Gary Parsons, Bay Search and Rescue’s station officer, said: “They were
all a little bit chilly and shaken. The snow came down so fast and it was
driven by the wind – that was the big factor. It got up to 14 or 15 feet
around hedges.

Gary Parsons, Bay Search and Rescue

“It was a freak weather event. We’ve never seen anything like it up here
before. It was not a Cumbrian scene at all, more like something you see in
Canada or somewhere like that.”

Two ex-military “snowcat” vehicles were used to reach stranded
motorists and transport them to a nearby school hall which served as an
overnight emergency centre.

Forecasters said it was expected to be Britain’s largest snowfall since 1981,
with wintry conditions expected to stretch into Sunday afternoon for most
parts of the country.

Snow in Harrogate, North Yorkshire (Jonathan Pow)

Overnight 200,000 electricity customers suffered a blackout in Northern
Ireland while 14,000 houses in Scotland and 1,500 properties in Cumbria were
also left without power.

Engineers were still working to restore power to 35,000 homes on Saturday
morning, Northern Ireland Electricity said. Electricity North West said it
had restored power to all but 450 customers.

There were more than 3,000 homes without power in north Wales while Scottish
Power said 6,000 homes in Wigtownshire, Portpatrick and Newton Stewart in
Dumfries and Galloway were still without electricity.

Emergency generators were being taken to the island of Arran in an attempt to
restore supplies.

Strong winds saw speed restrictions put in place over the Skye, Tay and Forth
Road Bridges while ferries between Gourock and Dunnon, Coll and Tiree were

Trains have also been disrupted in many parts of the country with routes
between Kilmarnock and Carlisle, Ayr and Stranraer, Carlisle and Skipton all
being being cancelled.

There is disruption around Huddersfield, Wrexham, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Buses are replacing trains between Leeds and Bradford and there are delays
to services from Manchester Piccadilly.

East Midlands and Bradford airports were both forced to close runways to allow
snow clearance on Saturday morning. All flights from Humberside Airport were
also cancelled. East Midland’s airport reopened at 12.30pm.

Snow and fallen trees brought road closures in Staffordshire and forced Alton
Towers and Drayton Manor theme parks to close their doors to the public.

Many football matches have been cancelled as a result of
the poor weather while the Saturday’s racing schedule has also been

The winter storms are believed to have already claimed the life of one woman.

A landslide and floodwater in Cornwall, thought to have been triggered by
torrential rain, smashed through a block of flats partially collapsing the

Last night emergency crews and specialist investigators found a woman’s body
after picking through debris at the Veronica flats in Looe.

The body is believed to be that of Susan Norman, a grandmother in her 60s who
had not been heard from since returning to the flat on Thursday night.

More than two inches of snow is expected to cover parts of England, Scotland
and Wales from London northwards, with heavy showers and sleet hitting the

Blizzards cause huge snow drifts which cover cars on a road in
Hadfield, Derbyshire (LNP)

While the south-west is expected to be spared the heavy downpours and flash
flooding it suffered yesterday, more than 90 flood risk alerts are still in

Chris Hogan, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division for the Press
Association, said: “The worst of this severe weather was yesterday,
although there is still some significant snow fall to come.

“London will mark the border of rain and snow, with everywhere north
looking at a covering of snow and around six cms (two inches) in the
Midlands, Wales, north England and southern Scotland.

“Higher areas could see more than 10cms (four inches).

“But the rain will move across to the south-east today where it will be
persistent but not as heavy as yesterday in the south-west.

“Temperatures will stay around freezing, but will feel much colder
because of the bitter winds.

“The winter weather will gradually ease throughout today and tomorrow
though there is no sign of any warmer weather coming through yet.”

Roads have been affected in Scotland, Cumbria, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and
Lancashire as well as North Wales, Cornwall, West Sussex and Dorset.

The AA issued warnings to motorists that even short journeys could be
difficult, and there could be a repeat of the scenes in southern England
last week when hundreds of drivers were stranded in their cars overnight.

Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “It’s going to
be a real witch’s brew of driving wind, rain and snow, which will inevitably
cause disruption on the roads.”

Police in Cumbria established a multi-agency “Gold Group” to
co-ordinate its response after 20 calls yesterday morning asking for help
after multiple crashes, impassable roads from trees falling, road signs
blowing over and heavy snowfall.

In Birmingham, weather woes caused gridlock after melting snow flooded the St
Chad’s Queensway tunnel, shutting the key road artery and leaving traffic
backed up along main routes into the city centre.

Engineers spent all morning trying to pump the water out of the tunnel.

On the railways, flooding meant a house became unstable on the line near Looe
in Cornwall, affecting First Great Western train services, and no
alternative transport could be laid on because of poor road conditions.

There were also delays near Hatton in the West Midlands, Ilkley station in
West Yorkshire, Shrewsbury and West Sussex.

The Local Government Association said council gritting and ploughing teams
were out in force to try to ensure main roads remained passable.

Peter Box, of the Local Government Association, said hundreds of thousands of
tonnes of salt had been spread this winter, but stocks were still plentiful
in council depots and new deliveries were coming in.

He also urged people to check elderly or vulnerable neighbours to ensure they
were well.

Greg Dewhurst, a Met Office forecaster, said it was expected to be the largest
snowfall for 32 years.

“There hasn’t been an equivalent snowfall in terms of the amount of snow
since 1981,” he said.

“Of course, final figures on the depth of snow and how widespread it is
will be known once this band of rain, sleet and snow loses its intensity

“We had significant snowfall in early April in 2008, so the current
weather conditions are not unusual in terms of the time of year, but back
then it was confined to a smaller area of the country.”

Man found dead in snow drift –
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