The military have been helping rescue services reach hundreds of motorists stranded overnight on snow-covered roads as Storm Emma battered Britain with winds of up to 90mph.
The UK is waking up to a fourth day of chaos after the coldest spring day on record claimed at least 10 lives, including a seven-year-old girl, and brought snowfall to nearly every part of the country.
A deadly combination of the so-called Beast from the East and Storm Emma has caused blizzards and drifting snow in some parts of the country – with more forecast for Friday.
In Hampshire, police declared a major incident on Thursday night as motorists were stranded for several hours on the A31.
Shortly before 6am, the force said some traffic was moving again but officers were still trying to clear trapped cars and recover abandoned vehicles.
In Greater Manchester, dozens of volunteers battled through snow to take supplies to people stranded on the M62 motorway for more than 10 hours. Police said wind speeds over the Rakewood Viaduct in Greater Manchester had reached 90mph.
In the south-west of England, which was issued a rare red weather warning, police said they were carrying out a rescue operation to help people stuck in their vehicles across Somerset, including about 100 vehicles trapped in snow on the A303 at Ilminster.
The red weather warning – the second issued by the Met Office in 24 hours – expired at 2am, but amber warnings for snow are still in place for much of Scotland, the North East of England, and parts of Northern Ireland, running until 10am, and for wind and snow in south western parts of the UK until 8am.
Up to 50cm (19in) of snow could yet fall over parts of Dartmoor, Exmoor and south east Wales, forecasters said.
Yellow warnings for snow are also in place for vast swathes of the country for the whole day, while a yellow warning for wind covers the North East of England and Wales until midday.
Temperatures will once again be below freezing for many parts of the UK during the day, with strong winds making it feel even chillier.
Met Office meteorologist Steven Keates said We are not out of the woods yet. There’s further snow to come, as well as a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain.
Even parts of London and the South East are not immune to seeing more snow through the afternoon – not as much as yesterday, but still enough to cause further disruption.
Thousands of homes are without electricity in the north west of England as temperatures remain sub-zero with bitter gales blowing.
Power company Electricity North West said power outages had affected parts of Stockport, Oldham, Preston, Blackburn, Bolton, Manchester, Carlisle and other parts of Cumbria and parts of Derbyshire, where 5,000 households are without power in Buxton alone.
The firm said that because of the high winds and heavy snow some of their work teams have had to stop repairs until it is safe to continue.
Thomas Hamilton, a driver stranded on the A31 in Hampshire, described scenes as apocalyptic.
It’s quite hard to describe really, there is a kind of apocalyptic scenes, he said.
There are no emergency services, no grit is on the road and actually the kind of weather has not been too bad, but just a lack of gritting just means that… I mean there are hundreds of trucks, cars littered everywhere, been past burning cars, it’s quite extraordinary.
He added At one stage we got stuck and did not move for a couple of hours, only really moved because a few do-gooders.
This is crazy. Hoping that we can all get home soon! #m27 #A31 #Traffic pic.twitter.com/g5z28IxokF
On the M62, Eleanor Kelly, 19, said residents in Milnrow, Rochdale, had been taking hot drinks, food and blankets to those stuck on the carriageway – including to a father with a baby and toddler in the car.
We came to a halt at about 5.30pm last night and have been here since, Dave Webb, 37, from Wakefield, said at about 3.30am.
We brought water, snacks and blankets for myself and my wife and have plenty of petrol, but we just want to be home now.
Good people of Milnrow running supplies up the hill to the motorway to get supplies to stranded drivers ð??ð?»#M62 #Milnrow pic.twitter.com/AIXS0dhVwq
After the Army was on Thursday forced to step in to Britain’s snow relief efforts, the military was on Friday drafted in to help hospitals and medics in the Midlands and West Country.
Devon and Cornwall NHS and Shropshire NHS have both asked for assistance, which began at 6am on Friday.
The Army has sent 10 4×4 vehicles and 20 troops to Shropshire while the Royal Marines have deployed the same resources in Devon and Cornwall.
Due to the current weather & road conditions, we are being assisted by members of the RAF. This kind chap was able to get through the snow & help one of our 999 control room colleagues get in today, helping to protect the county. pic.twitter.com/zljnB6F0Er
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said The MoD helps in cases of extreme weather when we receive a request from our civilian authority colleagues.
There are three UK standby battalions held at high readiness to respond to UK contingencies and emergencies, including support to local authorities.
We have the right people with the right training to respond to a range of contingencies.
Commuters are facing another day of disruption as the weather continues to cripple the UK’s travel networks.
Several roads remain impassable and have been closed, and drivers have been warned not to travel unless absolutely essential. Train services and flights have also been affected.
Here are some of the latest reported issues
The A303 in Devon has been closed between the A30 and the A358, with Avon and Somerset Constabulary declaring a major incident due to stranded vehicles.
The A38 in Devon was also shut, between the A379 and A380. Highways England said a large number of vehicles were struggling to pass through due to extremely hazardous road conditions.
Two separate collisions closed the M2 eastbound in Kent, between junctions 3 and 4, while the A46 in Gloucestershire was shut between the A4 and M4 due to severe weather conditions and a number of stranded vehicles.
In Warwickshire, a lorry crash closed the M40 southbound between junctions 14 and 12.
High winds were particularly affecting the North West on Friday morning, and the M62 remained closed between junctions 24 and 21, while surrounding roads such as the A62, A618 and A66 were also shut.
In the North East, the A1 was closed between the A192 and the Scottish border, while the A19 in County Durham was shut near Hartlepool due to several incidents, Highways England said.
In Scotland, the A68 was shut southbound after Jedburgh, and the A9000 Forth Road Bridge was closed in both directions.
Train services will be cancelled and delayed across nearly all operators on Friday, with many urging passengers no to attempt to make journeys.
All cross-border trains between England and Scotland remain suspended. The West Coast Main Line is closed between Carlisle and Scotland, with no trains or replacement buses.
Virgin Trains East Coast is pleaded with passengers not to travel on the entire East Coast Main Line between London and Scotland. No trains will run between Newcastle and Edinburgh on Friday.
ScotRail said train lines will need to be tested on Friday morning to check if they are safe, which means there will not be any services in the worst affected areas during the morning peak.
Southeastern will continue to run a modified timetable on Friday as heavy snowfall is expected in the South East during the afternoon and overnight into Saturday.
Virgin Trains East Coast has cancelled its services to and from Edinburgh, leaving some people stranded in Scotland and unable to get home.
#VTECUpdate We will no longer be able to run a service to and from #Edinburgh on the 2nd March. This is due to significant snow fall in the #BerwickUponTweed area blocking all lines. We are in the process of updating the website, check back here https//t.co/MMCzGKaaRy.
The rail company said it would reimburse those affected by reimbursing them for any hotel stays required during the cold weather, and that it will not be able to tell customers whether they will be able to travel tomorrow until this evening at the very earliest.
Many rail companies have warned commuters in Scotland not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
The impact of the weather on flight schedules will be even more severe on Friday with hundreds of flights already cancelled.
Heathrow, the world’s busiest two-runway airport, will see at least 322 departing or arriving flights cancelled, representing a quarter of all scheduled services.
Airlines were asked to reduce their flights at the west London hub following discussions with airport officials and air traffic control provider Nats.
The high demand for slots at Heathrow means there is very little slack during normal operations and therefore the number of flights has to be cut during disruption.
Dublin Airport will see at least 331 cancellations on Friday, and 95 planned Edinburgh Airport services will not operate.
So this is what a ??Red Alert for heavy snowfall?? actually looks like @DublinAirport. We??ll have further updates in the morning. Stay safe. #StormEmma #BeastFromTheEast #Snow pic.twitter.com/ENajr7xaFX
The number of Friday cancellations stands at 67 at Glasgow Airport, which was closed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Almost 5,000 flights have been cancelled to or from European airports since Tuesday, meaning many UK travellers are now stranded abroad.
A spokesman for travel trade organisation Abta said Customers who are overseas and whose flight arrangements are delayed or cancelled should liaise with their tour operator or airline regarding changes to their travel itineraries and new flight arrangements.
If their flight is in the European Union or their airline is an EU carrier, customers will be entitled to food, refreshment and overnight accommodation or a refund of proportionate costs and will be flown home as soon as is possible at their airline’s expense.
Including this baby rabbit in Essex, picked up by a local police officer.
Nice pic from today of a cold confused hairy little creature (holding a rabbit) ð pic.twitter.com/QgmmHwZR72
In between shovelling snow, helping stranded vehicles and keeping people safe, this police force found a rabbit that may have frozen to death without their help.
The Prime Minister has thanked emergency services for their work in this cold weather.
In the current bad weather, I want say thank you to everyone going the extra mile to keep our country moving – and to keep us safe. Thank you to NHS staff and care workers, the police and the armed forces, and all those working to keep our vital public services going. pic.twitter.com/qyY4dN0Fwg
She tweeted In the current bad weather, I want say thank you to everyone going the extra mile to keep our country moving – and to keep us safe.
Thank you to NHS staff and care workers, the police and the armed forces, and all those working to keep our vital public services going.
More than 1,000 schools were closed on Thursday during disruption which was described as the worst in a generation, and hospitals cancelled non-urgent operations and appointments.
The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which prmet oovides services in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire, appealed for help from 4×4 owners to move its staff around in the adverse conditions.
Panic-buying and snowbound delivery lorries left supermarket shelves empty of food in some parts of the country.
Theresa May has been forced to move her long-awaited Brexit speech from Newcastle to London, while households are being urged to carry on cooking after the National Grid issued a gas deficit warning, prompting fears of a shortage.
Energy minister Claire Perry tried to downplay the National Grid’s warning Do carry on using your gas heating and cooking meals as normal.
Thursday’s low temperatures set a record for the UK’s coldest spring day. In Tredegar in Wales, the mercury never got above -5.2C, beating the previous record low of -4.6C at Cassley in Sutherland, Scotland, on March 2 2001.
The so-called Beast from the East, which met Storm Emma on Thursday, has already proved deadly.
A seven-year-old girl became the latest to die during the severe weather on Thursday.
The child, believed to be a pedestrian, was fatally injured after a car hit a house on Bodrigan Road in Looe at about 2.30pm, Devon and Cornwall Police said.
A 75-year-old woman was earlier found dead in a snow-covered street in Leeds, while Hampshire Police said a 46-year-old man died after a collision involving a lorry and van on the A34 southbound near Tot Hill services.
A 60-year-old man who died after being pulled from the water at Danson Park, near Welling, south-east London, on Wednesday, was named by the Metropolitan Police as Stephen Cavanagh.
The whole of the Irish Republic is also on red alert, valid until 6pm on Friday, after being hit by the worst snow in 35 years.
Evelyn Cusack, senior forecaster with Met Eireann, warned 40cm of snow could fall in parts of the east and south.
In Scotland, disruption to travel was set to continue today even after the expiry of a severe weather warning.
A number of rail and bus services in the amber alert area have been suspended throughout Friday morning over concerns for safety of staff and passengers.
How well prepared was Britain for the snow? Join the debate by leaving a comment below.
News Source TelegraphNews