UK weather: Temperatures plunge to -12C as snow disrupts travel

UK weather: Temperatures plunge to -12C as snow disrupts travel

LONDON — Temperatures have fallen below freezing in parts of the UK, with 15cm of snow causing serious travel disruption.

Yellow weather warnings for snow and ice have been issued for the north west of England, the Midlands, the south, and parts of Wales and Scotland.

Drivers in Cumbria told the BBC they had been in stop-start traffic with no food or water for up to 19 hours. Meanwhile, the mercury dropped to -12C (10.4F) in Scotland.

A “major incident” has been declared in Cumbria after heavy snowfall, with police urging people not to travel on Sunday unless necessary.

Some drivers in the area spent the night in temporary accommodation or stuck in cars.

Emma Thompson, from Ulverston, slept in a Hawkshead scout hut dormitory — having been stranded after manning a chilli jam stall at the local Christmas fair.

“By 16:00 I was up to my knees (in snow),” she told BBC News.

The 54-year-old slept in a room with around ten other women, and says others in the hut stayed in a male dormitory, while the local church and school also put people up.

Thompson praised residents, who brought tea, coffee and blankets to those who were stranded — while the vicar gave them soup, and a fish and chip shop provided food.

“We’re still not going to get out for quite some time… we can hardly see my car”, she added on Sunday morning.

Elsewhere, Ant Brett, from Essex, traveled to Cumbria for a family wedding but the conditions meant he was traveling for 19 hours.

“I’ve been stuck since 4 p.m. on Saturday,” he told the BBC while waiting on the A595.

“I was heading up to a family wedding — it’s fair to say I didn’t make it. The cars here haven’t had any water or food supplies. I’m down to my last bit of water and having to ration it. I know the emergency services are busy but we’ve just been left here without help.”

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service said it had been working through the night to rescue people from cars trapped in deep snow.

It added it was also using 4X4 vehicles to help “vulnerable people stuck in the snow as required”, and assisting at reception centers.

Paul Smith was stuck on a local road heading towards the town of Ambleside on Saturday evening after experiencing serious delays on the M6 motorway.

“The snow just came down and… the road all the way down is still blocked,” he said.

“We’re still about a mile-and-a-half from Ambleside and it’s just been like moving ten yards, stopping and moving again.”

Cumbria Constabulary said the M6 southbound motorway between junctions 38 and 37 was blocked on Saturday due to jack-knifed lorries and that the A595 between Millom and Furness was impassable.

In an update issued at midnight on Saturday, superintendent Andy Wilkinson said there were “a number of incidents” in which officers and other officials were verbally abused.

“We understand people’s frustration during this time”, he said, adding that the snow had been “much more significant” than forecast.

“However, agencies are working hard to improve the situation in Cumbria and are also facing the challenging road conditions when responding.”

National Highways said it was also dealing with a large number of stranded vehicles on Saturday evening, particularly on the M6 between junctions 38 and 40.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for ice for the area from midnight until 11:00 on Sunday.

Another warning for snow and ice is in force until midday on Sunday across much of northern England, the midlands and northern Wales.

A separate warning for ice in similar areas will come into force from 17:00 on Sunday and run until midnight on Monday.

In eastern Scotland, a yellow warning for snow and ice will be in place at the same time.

Separately, an amber cold-health alert issued by the UK Health Security Agency remains in place for five regions in England, and a yellow warning is in place for four more.

The agency warned: “Cold weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service for an extended period of time, with potential for the whole population to be at risk.”

The amber alert is in place for the East Midlands, West Midlands, North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber until 5 December.

Heavy snow has also been causing disruption across Europe this weekend.

Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic have been hit by train and flight cancelations, with the German weather service predicting that 30-40cm of snow could fall by Saturday evening. — BBC

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