Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ICE AGE NOW: Heavy Snow Closes Airports, Wrecks Havoc on UK Railways and Turns Roads into Ice Rinks - Met Office Blindsided, Over 40 Flights Cancelled, Traffic Chaos, 45 Crashes, 10 Injured!

December 05, 2012 - BRITAIN - A dusting of snow caused chaos at airports and on roads yesterday as council bosses admitted they had been caught out by the winter weather. Southern England, the Midlands, the North East, Wales and Scotland were hit by a brief snow shower early in the morning after forecasters warned temperatures would plunge to minus 8C. In most places the snow amounted to less than an inch but it grounded more than 40 flights, closed schools and left major roads in gridlock. Five airports, including Stansted and Luton, closed temporarily, leaving passengers stranded.

Wrecked: The crumpled bumper of a car after it hit another vehicle in a snowy
North East of Scotland near Banchory, Aberdeenshire.
Wheels go round: Trapped drivers were forced to hop out of their cars and push
when the snow and ice in Essex became too bad.
‘We had early snow followed by falling temperatures and then more snow, which settled on ice, compounding the problem,’ said Mark Davison from Stansted airport. ‘It was certainly worse than had been forecast. We had the runway open again within two hours which, under the circumstances, we are satisfied with. A total area of 500,000 square metres needed to be cleared.’ Conditions on the roads were hazardous with a ten-car pile-up on the London-bound A299 in Whitstable, Kent. In Essex alone, at least ten people were injured in 45 crashes. In the North East, motorists were stranded in their cars for hours because the treacherous Birk Brow Bank, between Whitby and Guisborough, in North Yorkshire, was covered in ice and snow. By 11.30am the AA said it had attended almost 5,000 breakdowns, with a peak of 1,300 an hour. There were major delays to rail services with South West Trains advising passengers to travel only if ‘absolutely necessary’. Last night council chiefs admitted they had failed to respond quickly enough. Derrick Louis from Essex County Council, which had reports of drivers travelling just 150 yards in two hours, said: ‘We were caught out and the weather took us by surprise. We responded as quickly as we could but it did take three hours to get the gritters out.’ Commuters were angry at delays on roads and rail. Melissa Cousins, 28, from Ealing, West London, said: ‘We have winter every year. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. What is surprising is how inefficient the system can be when something small disrupts it.’

Police condemned ‘tank commander’ drivers who didn’t bother to defrost their windscreens properly. In a survey, one in three admitted to driving without being able to see out of their windscreen. Officers have called them ‘tank commanders’ because of the way they peer through small slots in their snow-covered windscreens and have no visibility to the side or rear. They urged them to take an extra few minutes to make sure their screens were clear. Passengers stranded at Stansted were incredulous at the trouble caused by such a small amount of snow. Patrycja Kubiak, 20, from Poznan in Poland, was due to fly home at 7.05am but at 8.30am was told the flight was cancelled. ‘It was snowing in Poznan yesterday, and they just had minor delays,’ she said. ‘It’s just too much panic for that amount of snow.’ Back in the UK, forecasters predict a bright start to today with a few snow flurries rapidly turning to heavy rain. Forecasters warned up to six inches of snow could fall last night - causing further travel mayhem across the country today.

Scraping by: A car valet has a long day ahead of him as he starts to clear snow
off cars at Birkbrow Motors near Guisborough.
The Met Office issued severe weather warnings as experts predicted up to an inch of snow at low levels across the South-East, East, North and Scotland. Some areas over 250m in the north of England were expected to see up to four inches of snow with parts of Scotland over 400m could see up to six inches. The Met office weather warning for the UK today states: 'After a very cold night with widespread frost, sleet and snow will spread from the west during the early hours of Thursday. 'At lower levels 2 or 3 cm of snow is likely locally before turning to rain from the west through the morning. Despite turning to rain, the lying snow and ice will struggle to melt and this will bring some treacherous conditions. 'The public should be prepared for the risk of significant disruption to travel, especially over the M8 corridor to the east of Glasgow, across Perthshire and over much of inland eastern Scotland. ' It comes after forecasters admitted they were taken by surprise when unexpected heavy snow blanketed the South of England overnight. Experts wrongly said on Tuesday that London and the South East would be 'cold and dry' with 'scattered showers - some wintry' in the South West. - Daily Mail.

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