Wednesday, 23 January 2013

'End in sight' for freezing weather - BBC News

There is an end in sight to the wintry weather that has caused problems in the UK since Friday, forecasters say.

But disruption continues for motorists in areas including South Wales and south-west England after fresh snowfall in the past 24 hours.

The Met Office says the flurries are set to ease, with milder and wet conditions by the weekend.

Hundreds of schools remain closed across the country although numbers are far down on the start of the week.

In Somerset, gritter crews have had their work cut out after almost 15cm of snow fell in 24 hours.

Somerset County Council said that, to combat icy conditions for motorists, twice the usual amount of salt would be used to treat roads on Wednesday night.

Motorists spent a night in a shelter after the A39 closed in the county.

Police said about 30 people were affected when snow and fallen trees rendered the section of the road between Bridgwater and Williton impassable at about 01:00 GMT.

In the West Midlands, a gritting lorry and a fuel tanker collided on the M42 overnight but no injuries were reported.

And a woman was cut free from her car and taken to hospital after a crash on the A90 near Stonehaven, in Aberdeenshire, in what police described as "hazardous" conditions. Her injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

The freezing temperatures are expected to continue until Saturday.

The Met Office has issued yellow warnings advising people to "be aware" of more snow in parts of Wales, south-west England, north-west England, and eastern and north-eastern Scotland through the day and into the evening.

It says a further 2-5cm (1-2in) of snow is likely, with as much as 10cm over high ground.

It adds that icy surfaces will continue to be a threat across much of the UK, especially where snow has fallen over recent days.

The Environment Agency says rain and melting snow are expected to lead to rising water levels in rivers in south-west England and has four flood warnings in place.

In other developments:

Dozens of Heathrow flights were cancelled on Tuesday and a smaller number are still being affected by the weather. The airport said it was "fully operational" but acknowledged there might be further disruption due to the conditions in the UK and Europe.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the airport's chief executive, Colin Matthews, said Heathrow had invested £36m in snow-clearing equipment and was "in no way in the same position as 2010" when a runway closed for nearly four days.

He said two-thirds of flights operated on Monday and nearly 90% on Tuesday.

"I'm really sorry for every passenger who got caught up with the disruption and the cancellations but the fact is when it snows we have to clear the snow off the runway," he said.

"It takes us a little time to clear the snow off and during that time we can land less aircraft and take off less aircraft than in normal conditions and therefore because we are full any amount of snow is going to cause some disruption."

There were also delays at airports including Gatwick, Birmingham, Stansted and Luton on Tuesday.

National Rail said all UK train companies were expected to run a full service following delays on Monday and Tuesday due to the weather.

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