|Stuck: Heavy snow on the A9 near Blair Atholl, Perthshire, caused major disruption for motorists with tailbacks of up to five miles|
January 14, 2015 - BRITAIN - Motorists were urged to take extra care on the roads today as Britain braced itself for further snow and icy conditions.
Forecasters have warned more snow is expected after blizzards disrupted travel and closed schools - and it could be our coldest spell for two years.
A 57-year-old motorist died today after his car smashed into a lorry that had overturned and shed its load of logs in the wintry weather.
The lorry crashed on the A39 between Bideford and Barnstaple in Devon at 6.50am, and despite the driver being freed by fire crews he died in hospital.
All four lanes of the main road were blocked by the logs and police were investigating to see if the poor weather had contributed to the accident.
Meanwhile, a 56 year old woman was seriously injured in a crash between a truck and a 4x4 car near Two Bridges on Dartmoor in snowy conditions.
And more than 40 schoolchildren narrowly escaped serious injury after their coach skidded on ice on a country road and careered into a ditch.
Emergency services headed to the scene at 9.10am after the Johnsons coach became stuck in a ditch off near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said one of the children was assessed for a minor right eye injury, and was discharged at the scene.
The AA said it had rescued 57 vehicles and attended 8,200 breakdowns by mid afternoon, reporting poor conditions in Scotland's central belt and north-west England. The RAC has now warned drivers to put off any non-essential car journeys until Friday.
|Clearing a path: A snow plough passes a car which has come off the road in Cumbria today as snow sweeps across the country|
|Tailback: Lorries are queued on the A20 in Dover, Kent, as bad weather continues to delay ferry crossings across the English Channel|
|Requiring help: Difficult driving conditions are being experienced by motorists in Scotland today as a lorry slides on the A82 in Tyndrum|
|Mr Postman: A Royal Mail delivery van drives through snow today in Pitlochry, central Scotland|
|Scouring the area: A helicopter checks the rail line to Fort William for damage as snow continues to fall in Tyndrum, Scotland|
|Blocked: An overturned gritter on a country lane in Carmarthenshire in South-West Wales, as parts of the country were hit by snow|
|What a sight: A snowy scene at Nenthead on the Northumberland/Cumbria border, as more winter weather swept across the UK|
Thundersnow - winter-time thunderstorms with snow - was reported in areas including South Wales last night.
On a rural road in Blaen-y-coed, Carmarthenshire, a council gritter toppled onto its side on a snow-swept hill – while out gritting.
Meanwhile 1ft (30cm) of snow was said to have fallen in Aviemore in the Highlands, while 10in (24cm) was seen at Tulloch Bridge, east of Fort William.
And there are early signs of more snow this weekend and next week, reported BBC Weather, adding that it could be our coldest spell for two years.
The Met Office has issued an amber 'be prepared' alert in central and southern Scotland today, with the rest of Britain on yellow 'be aware' alert.
Gritters were out in force last night and commuters have been told to expect some delays and cancellations of services. In Scotland, which has been hit hardest by snow with up to 30cm drifts, the roads are being gritted and patrolled.
Network Rail has suspended four train routes and the AA said its crews were ready for a busy 48 hours.
South West Trains warned some services tonight 'will take longer than usual, with a plan to enforce blanket speed restrictions as a safety precaution'.
The lines expected to be worst hit are between Weymouth and Southampton, Exeter and Salisbury, and Southampton and Portsmouth.
There were also flight delays for arrivals at Heathrow and London City airport due to the strong winds. A spokesman for London City Airport has now said air traffic control has lifted the flow restrictions put in place earlier today.
The Environent Agency had issued three flood warnings and 44 flood alerts for England as of 8am this morning. And more cold weather is on the way.
THREE MINI-TORNADOES HIT BRITAIN IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS: LONDON, CORNWALL AND WALES ALL STRUCK
At least three mini-tornadoes hit Britain in less than 24 hours - with homes damaged, shed roofs ripped off and garages destroyed.
Photographs emerged today of damage to homes in Park Bottom, Cornwall, after a whirlwind that saw a shed thrown 100 yards down a road.
Local resident Roger May said: 'There was a massive great bang and all of the lights went out. My wife was terribly frightened and really upset.
'I looked outside and about 30 feet away there was a massive circular item. It looked like a UFO but it was a massive trampoline.'
The 60-year-old added: 'I have never seen weather like that before in my life. It was quite frightening. Someone could have been killed.'
Residents say the tornado – which only lasted a few seconds - picked up at least two sheds, a chainsaw and various pieces of garden equipment.
|Resident Dave Crabtree with his damaged car: The mini tornado appeared to hit Park Bottom, Cornwall, where several homes were damaged|
|Firefighters in Pembrokeshire said they had dealt with several properties with damaged roofs, while two people were taken to hospital|
John Budd, whose wooden summerhouse was ripped from his garden, said: 'All of a sudden there was a loud roaring noise and then a bang.'
The summerhouse roof had been blown four houses down the street and landed in Trev Harris's garden after striking his conservatory and roof.
Mr Harris said: 'I said to my wife 'We have a shed-load of material in the garden' - and then I realised it was a shed.'
Met Office meteorologist Dan Williams said no tornados were officially recorded but stated it could have been too small to pick up on their satellite.
Another mini-tornado hit yesterday in the Prendergast area of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, where shed roofs and gates were blown off.
One witness told the Western Telegraph: 'It was the most horrendous noise I have ever heard, like a lion roaring in my head. It was really scary.'
Firefighters there said they had dealt with several properties with damaged roofs, while two people were taken to hospital suffering from shock.
It comes after a suspected mini-tornado struck yesterday in Harrow, north-west London, causing a garage to collapse and damaging cars and homes.
Fire crews told of the sight as thunder, lighting and hail stones were followed by the tornado. They said it was 'like a scene from the Wizard of Oz'.
Met Office meteorologist Nicky Maxey told MailOnline: 'It's certainly looking colder over the weekend, and we've got a cold weather alert in place.
'We have had quite mild weather up until now this winter - and although last winter was wet and windy was mild, we didn't get any really cold weather.
'Next week is potentially looking colder and a little below average. This weekend is looking chilly - we've certainly got temperatures below freezing.'
She added: 'Friday night into Saturday, we've certainly got some temperatures around freezing or below overnight.
'Then daytime temps are looking at 4C, 5C, 6C or 7C, depending on where you are in the country - and the same for Sunday.'
And the Met Office's outlook for next week says: 'Temperatures will be generally below average with overnight frosts, locally severe.'
In Blaen-y-coed, commuters found the huge lorry blocking the road after it overturned last night, although both workers inside escaped uninjured.
Digital manager Ruben Lightfoot, 29, came across the stranded grit spreader on the B4299 while driving to work at about 8.30am today.
He said: 'As soon as we saw it we just hoped everyone was ok, but it seemed as if they had got out. It was clear that people had been there.'
Cllr Colin Evans from Carmarthenshire County Council said: 'Thankfully no-one was hurt in this incident. I would like to thank our crews for their work.
'They are out in difficult weather conditions at all hours and are doing a great job in keeping the county moving.'
Darron Burness from the AA's severe weather team said: 'It's a case of 'expect the unexpected' and drive accordingly.
'Untreated roads could be slippery, so keep your distance and watch your speed, as things can go wrong very quickly on snow and ice.
'If conditions are bad, even short journeys can take significantly longer, so allow extra time, as some delays are to be expected.
'Also make sure your car's windows and lights are clear of snow and frost before heading off.'
In Aberdeenshire the A93 Glenshee to Braemar route has been shut, as has the B974 Banchory to Fettercairn road and the A939 Ballater to Corgarff.
Traffic Scotland said there was heavy snow at the Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll and Bute, while on the A9 lorries stuck in snow caused delays.
|Delivering the mail: Postman Willie Devine on his rounds in the South Lanarkshire village of Forth today|
|Treacherous conditions: Snow falls early this morning at Wilsden, near Bradford in West Yorkshire, as weather warnings were issued in the UK|
|On the way: Forecasters have warned more snow is expected after blizzards disrupted travel and closed schools in Scotland yesterday|
|Graphically explained: The sea level pressure and precipitation from the early hours, showing the deep low pressure system and heavy rain|
Snow caused hazardous driving conditions around Launceston in Cornwall, and the A3074 near Lelant was closed after trees and power cables fell.
Also in Cornwall, a lightning strike blasted a hole in a house during the night - and a television in the house in Hayle was destroyed in the explosion.
Twelve firefighters from Camborne and Hayle went to the property and Western Power made the electrics safe.
The A361 in Frome, Somerset, was closed in both directions between the B3090 and the B3092 after an accident involving a lorry and a bicycle.
Police advised drivers to avoid the A4136 near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, where a lorry became stuck on Plump Hill due to the adverse conditions.
The A509 Kettering Road in Great Harrowden, Northamptonshire, was blocked because of an accident involving a car and a van.
Gritting lorries were out in Wiltshire as snow fell this morning, and rescue teams were on their way to a crash on the B4553 in Purton Stoke.
Snow has been falling across Dorset, hitting many main roads including the A37 at Maiden Newton, and gritting teams have been out all night.
Residents across Weymouth were treated to a spectacular display of lightning as bolts came from the sky at around 10.20pm last night.
More than 250 properties in the Caversham area of Reading, Berkshire, were blacked out by a power cut last night.
Reports of lights going out began coming in shortly after 9pm. Scottish and Southern Energy said they had engineers on the way to repair the fault.
A spokeswoman said 'We apologise for the loss of supply - we are working to get the power back on as quickly as we can.'
The local branch of Nando's said most customers had finished eating when the power failed and staff 'only had a few takeaways left to deliver'.
Meanwhile a plane with 27 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing after it was struck by lightning.
The Blue Islands S1718 flight from Jersey to London City was diverted to London Southend Airport as a precaution shortly after 6.30pm yesterday.
The ATR 42 plane landed safely and was due to be inspected by engineers, while the return flight to Jersey was cancelled.
The wintry blast took effect in Scotland yesterday, forcing the closure of more than 30 schools in the Highlands and creating difficult driving conditions.
And today, dozens of schools in Northern Ireland have also closed because of bad weather.
Snow showers continued overnight and gritting and ploughing of affected roads has taken place, Stormont's Regional Development Department said.
The North West around Londonderry saw its second day of disruption due to the conditions and public transport services were suspended.
Police have advised motorists to take care when travelling, particularly when driving on untreated roads.
Areas of counties Fermanagh, Armagh and Tyrone were also affected by the wintry conditions, with snow expected to turn to rain later.
In Dundee, a six-vehicle crash saw a car slide off the road and crash through railings into the wall of a property and a lorry jackknifed near Carrbridge.
Thousands of council gritters have been out on main roads across the country already this week, according to the Local Government Association.
Transport spokesman Peter Box said: 'Local government funding has been cut by 40 per cent and pressure on vital services continues to grow.
'However, preparing for cold weather remains a top priority and that is why councils stockpiled 1.3 million tonnes of salt ahead of winter.'
WHAT IS THUNDERSNOW?
Thundersnow starts out like a summer thunderstorm - the sun heats the ground and pushes masses of warm, moist air upward, creating unstable air columns. As it rises, the moisture condenses to form clouds, which are jostled by internal turbulence.
Lightning is caused by this rubbing of the clouds against each other - thunder is the sound of lightning but as sound moves more slowly than light we hear it later.
The tricky part for making thundersnow is creating that atmospheric instability in the wintertime.
When it is cold, and particularly in air conducive to snowfall, the lower atmosphere is dry, cold and very stable.
For thundersnow to occur there needs to be a very precise set of circumstances - the air layer closer to the ground has to be warmer than the layers above, but still cold enough to create snow.
When this happens warm air rises, snow falls and thunder, lightning and snow all occur at the same time.
The LGA's annual Winter Readiness Survey found 91 per cent of local authorities maintained or increased salt stock levels this winter.
A Met Office spokesman said yesterday: 'There is a risk of two spells of persistent snow.
'The first of these is likely to cross the amber area on Tuesday evening, with another one affecting the area on Wednesday morning - both of which could produce disruptive snowfall during busy travel periods.
'Meanwhile, snow is likely to continue to accumulate throughout this period on high ground.
'The public should be prepared for the risk of disruption and difficult driving conditions.'
The amber warning, in place until 10am, follows last week's fierce storms which left 120,000 properties without power in Scotland.
The homes have since been reconnected but BT is continuing to fix phone lines in the Highlands and Islands.
|North of the border: Aviemore resident Colin Cadden took this photograph of a snow-covered scene in the Highlands at sunrise today|
|Deep: This photograph of a huge amount of snow at Aviemore in the Highlands was taken by Calum Spud Fraser, known as 'Spud The Piper'|
|Whiteout: Twitter user 'RoseannaghM' took this photograph of snowfall in a garden about five miles from Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands|
|Making a path: Network Rail posted this picture of a snowplough train, which was aiming to keep the line between Perth and Aviemore open|
|Driving through: Snow was very deep on the A889 near Dalwhinnie in the Highlands, which is known as one of the coldest places in the UK|
Repair efforts have been hampered by fallen trees, ferry cancellations and traffic restrictions.
Road operator Bear Scotland said its teams were working around the clock to keep routes clear.
And Police Scotland said drivers should ask whether their journey is really necessary before getting behind the wheel.
Chief Inspector Louise Blakelock said: 'If you do decide to travel, ensure your vehicle is well prepared before setting off, make sure your windscreens are completely free of snow and ice, and your lights are working and clean.'
Network Rail said a limited number of train services would be suspended from noon today, when the worst of the winds are expected to strike.
No trains will run on the Dumbarton Central to Helensburgh Central and Glasgow to Oban lines until 6pm tomorrow. The Kyle to Dingwall and Kilwinning to Ardrossan line will also be suspended.
Elsewhere, a train that broke down due to snow on a single line section between Inverness and Aviemore has now been moved, and the line is now open after being cleared by snow plough trains.
Meanwhile, emergency crews had to remove a high rise statue blown over in strong winds in Tyne and Wear - and left hanging by a lightning rod.
The Terpsichore statue was left dangling off the Sunderland Empire Tower after it was battered by high winds. A cordon was set up and a crane brought in to remove the statue of the Greek muse of dance and chorus.
David Dickson, route managing director for Scotland, said: 'Safety has to be our first consideration during severe weather.
'Where conditions are predicted to be most severe, we have agreed to withdraw a limited number of services until the worst of the storms have passed.
'During periods of snow and extreme cold we use a number of measures to keep the network open including insulated points heaters to prevent freezing, snow ploughs to remove drifts and our snow train which uses hot air blowers and steam to thaw frozen parts of the network.
'Our teams are out on the network and will be working around the clock to keep the tracks clear.'
Yesterday's high temperature was just 10.3C (50.5F) in Swanage, Dorset, reported BBC Weather.
A yellow 'be aware' warning for snow and ice remains in place across Wales, Northern Ireland and much of England, with sleet and snow showers possible overnight.
The Met Office said: 'This is most likely to occur in the west of the yellow area, with the high ground of Wales, the moors of south-west England, the Mendips and Cotswolds at greatest risk of snow accumulations. - Daily Mail.