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Weather eases - but more snow to come

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Councils spread grit and salt on roads throughout south-east Hampshire today as the wintry conditions eased slightly. Icy temperatures overnight made driving conditions hazardous this morning, but main routes were passable.

Hampshire Police did not open their emergency weather centre, saying that conditions had eased, although chief constable Alex Marshall said the centre would open again if the weather deteriorated.

Forecasters say today will be cloudy with temperatures rising to around 2C, but that no more snow is expected. They say that there are likely to be scattered snow showers in the Portsmouth area tomorrow.

People are being urged to take care on the roads today as yesterday’s snowfall turns to slippery ice.

Weekend staff from Portsmouth City Council and its highways contractor Colas are on hand to salt roads and keep pavements clear as the temperatures drop again.

Hampshire County Council has also had its workers out salting priority routes in the area.

The First bus company says most routes in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Waterlooville are running.

Emergency services are warning people only to travel if absolutely necessary and to be prepared before making any journeys.

Roads in and around Portsmouth are passable as the weather remains cold but without snow.

Saturday looks to remain dull and cloudy with a light snow in some rural areas. Temperatures will plummet below freezing again tonight, making the roads very icy.

Colas, the council’s road contractor, have been working around the clock to salt priority routes, including the motorway. They have used 50 tonnes of salt so far – double the normal amount.

The M275 was gritted twice yesterday and again at 3am and 7am this morning.

Weekend staff will continue to maintain the work.

Council staff have been out clearing pavements and 40 additional staff will be working throughout the weekend.

They will be working on clearing pavements on Havant Road, Bylerly Grove, Hilltop Crescent, Northern Road, Walton Road and also pavements around train stations, shopping centres and footbridges.

Extra refuse collections will be taking place today and Monday to catch up from collections that had to be suspended yesterday.

The Portsmouth Recycling Centre at Port Solent will remain closed until conditions improve.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘We’ve used twice the normal amount of salt on the roads, have been treating main routes round the clock to keep the city moving and will continue to do so over the weekend.

‘If you need to get around the city this weekend, please take extra care. We will carry on doing all we can to keep pavements clear, especially around stations, bus stops and the shopping areas. If you are able to safely clear the pavement outside your property, this will help to keep the city moving too.

‘I would also urge everyone to think about their elderly or vulnerable neighbours and take some time to check and make sure they are okay.’

On the trains most services are operating normally in the local area. A signalling problem is causing delays on services through Three Bridges and a broken down train is causing disruption at Horsham.

South West Trains have listed disruption to their services and will be operating a special timetable. People planning to travel with them are advised to check their journey before they travel.

Virgin Trains have lifted ticket restrictions and any ticket dated the Saturday, January 19 can be used on any train on the 19 January. Customers who choose not to travel today may apply for a full refund from the point of sale.

All Eurostar trains are delayed due to the snow and ice in the UK and northern France. Speed restrictions have been put in place and all trains will be delayed over the weekend.

National Express coach service are operating a normal service from Portsmouth and Fareham today, although some services from London to Wales have been affected.

The QA Hospital is operating a normal weekend service, although it is encouraging people to ‘choose well’ when it comes to where they go to receive treatment.

There are walk in centres at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth and minor injuries centres at St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre in Milton, Petersfield Community Hospital and at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Pharmacies can give expert, confidential advice on common minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, headaches and cystitis, as well as medicines and emergency contraception.

Health advice is also available from NHS Direct by calling 0845 4647 or going to nhsdirect.nhs.uk.

Across the country, Britain faces another day of travel disruption today as heavy snow that blankets much of the country turns to ice.

Hundreds of passengers were left stranded yesterday as airports across the UK suspended flights, and motorists struggled through blizzards along treacherous roads.

British Airways last night apologised to people trapped on planes in appalling weather at Heathrow airport as they waited for a slot to take off, and hundreds of others had flights cancelled.

More than 400 flights were cancelled at the airport, and hundreds of people spent the night on the floor as they waited for flights to be rescheduled.

The arctic blasts forced nearly 2,000 schools to shut their doors, meaning some sixth-form and college students had their A-level exams postponed.

But the weather heaped misery on more than 10,000 households in South Wales, where residents found themselves with no power yesterday morning.

There are warnings of further misery today. Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “With the snow compacting down and turning icy, we’re likely to see treacherous driving conditions throughout the weekend.

“Any fresh snow on top will just add to the problems.”

The Met Office is forecasting less snow, but has issued yellow warnings for ice over much of the country. The Highways Agency said its fleet of snow ploughs and gritters will continue to be out in force across the weekend to ensure roads are passable.

This morning the M48 Severn Bridge was closed in both directions between junctions one and two because of hazardous conditions.

Rail travellers experienced upheaval yesterday as operators scrapped services.

South West Trains will run an amended timetable today as a precaution against the heavy snowfall, while the Eurostar will run with speed restrictions until tomorrow because of snow and ice in the UK and northern France. Two services have also been cancelled.

Snow fell across much of the UK yesterday, with South Wales experiencing the worst of the weather, forcing the Met Office to issue a “red” severe weather warning.

Sennybridge in Powys had 10in (25cm) of snow, while many other places across the UK saw between 2in (5cm) and 4in (10cm).

Further snow fell overnight in the Midlands and London, while Suffolk and Essex had up to 1.5in (4cm), Paul Mott, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said.

Heavy snow showers are expected to develop across parts of northern England and eastern parts of Scotland, with up to 4in (10cm) falling locally over the North York Moors.

Temperatures are likely to remain low - down to about -3C (37.4F), and ice is expected to form on any untreated roads.

“It will be a cloudy, breezy and cold day for most areas, with raw easterly winds,” Mr Mott said, “and it will struggle to get over 0C (32F) in most places.

“There will be light flurries of snow today, but nothing like yesterday. Eastern Scotland may see a bit more, perhaps 4cm (1.5in) to 5cm (2in).

“But it looks like more moderate to heavy snow is on the way tomorrow afternoon and evening, affecting eastern and south-east England.

“There could be 5cm (2in) to 8cm (3.2in) in some places, and most of it will be in Kent, East Anglia, Lincolnshire and London.”

British Airways said it was doing everything it could to help passengers whose flights have been disrupted by bad weather at Heathrow.

A spokesman said: “We are also offering customers who no longer wish to travel today and tomorrow the option to rebook their flight to a later date.

“Due to the severe weather yesterday, there will be knock-on disruption to flights today and we would strongly advise customers to check the very latest status of their flight via ba.com before coming to the airport.

“Only customers with a confirmed booking on a flight which is operating should come to the airport.

“We are keeping our schedule under constant review and will adjust it further if we need to. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

 

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