UK weather: Snow causing widespread travel disruption

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Commuters have been warned of major disruption on the road and rail networks after a second day of severe weather across the UK.

The Met Office has issued Scotland’s first red snow warning – meaning there is a risk to life and people should take immediate action to keep safe.

Amber warnings are also in place for other parts of the UK including northern and eastern England.

A man has died trying to rescue a dog from a frozen lake in London.

Police said the man, who was in his 60s, was pulled from the water in Danson Park in Welling at about 16:00 GMT.

Rail passengers have been warned to avoid travelling to or from Scotland for the rest of Wednesday or Thursday.

On the rest of the rail network, almost all operators have been affected by the conditions, with numerous cancellations and delays. About 50 rail stations in Kent will be closed on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Public Health England (PHE) has urged people to plan ahead to ensure they have enough food and medicine.

The Met Office forecast warned: “Roads will become blocked by deep snow, with many stranded vehicles and passengers.

“Long delays and cancellations on bus, rail and air travel are expected [and] some communities could become cut off for several days.”

A 16-vehicle collision has closed the A1 in Nottinghamshire with some motorists having been stranded there since 11:30 GMT.

The RAC said where driving was necessary motorists should stick to the main routes.

The worst affected areas in England have been Kent, East Anglia and north-east England, and problems are continuing.

All flights to and from Glasgow have been cancelled for the rest of the day while more than 100 flights at Heathrow were dropped and services at London City were also suspended.

Schools in Wales are set to close until next week while more than 2,624 schools in England and 1,600 in Scotland have been shut, with the expectation that many will remain shut tomorrow.

Rural communities have also been warned they could be cut off by power outages and mobile phone signal failures.

In other travel developments:

  • British Airways and Ryanair were among airlines to cancel dozens of domestic and short-haul flights
  • Most flights out of Edinburgh have been cancelled and more than 90 departures have been cancelled from London City Airport
  • Train services impacted include c2c, Caledonian Sleeper, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Grand Central, Greater Anglia, Hull Trains, London Overground, Merseyrail, Northern, ScotRail, South Western Railway, Southeastern, Stansted Express, TfL Rail, TransPennine Express, Virgin Trains and Virgin Trains East Coast
  • Major problems and closures on main roads across the country including various parts of the A1, and the A66 across the Pennines
  • The AA says it received three times as many breakdown call-outs than normal for a Wednesday morning
  • A number of other roads across the UK have been affected so check your local BBC website for updates

What is a red weather warning?

The Met Office red warning covers Scotland’s central belt – from Edinburgh to Glasgow – from 15:00 GMT until 10:00 on Thursday.

The Met Office issues a red warning when it is forecasting extreme weather which is likely to pose a risk to life and cause widespread disruption, travel troubles and damage.

It is the strongest warning that can be issued and, according to BBC meteorologist Matt Taylor, is “exceptionally rare” and means people should take action immediately, for example avoid travelling wherever necessary or staying indoors.

The red snow alert is only the second ever issued by the Met Office – with the first covering Wales in 2013.

Other incidents include:

  • A boy in Basildon, Essex, was saved by firefighters after he got trapped in the middle of a frozen lake when the ice broke up
  • The Scottish Premiership has postponed its games for Wednesday night and Doncaster Racecourse has cancelled its meeting on Friday
  • Police in Macclesfield said they arrested two suspected thieves after tracking their footprints through the snow
  • The army being called in to help emergency services in Lincolnshire
  • Hospitals in Glasgow, Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole cancelled all outpatient appointments while Harrogate hospital asked staff who can walk to work to go in to cover shifts
  • The Met Office’s website struggled to cope as it received more than 10 times the normal number of visitors
  • Chatham Ski and Snowboard Centre in Gillingham, Kent, has been forced to close because of the heavy snow

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The Met Office has predicted up to 10cm (4in) of snow for parts of Scotland and northern England by Thursday evening – although it could be as much as 40cm (15in) over hills, while 15cm (6in) is forecast for parts of eastern England and up to 20cm (8in) in the South, Wales and West Midlands.

From Thursday, the Siberian system is set to meet with Storm Emma, with forecasters predicting more snow, gales and sleet.

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