Britons face the prospect of a treacherous journey home from work as heavy snow continues to blanket the country, causing severe disruption in parts.

Trains have been cancelled and motorists have been caught up in slushy traffic jams, while hundreds of schools told parents to keep children at home.

Blizzards and strong winds are set to make conditions dangerous on many roads for the rest of the day.

South Wales had to bear the brunt of the wintry weather first thing, with a rare “red warning” in place from the Met Office there and up to 30cm – a foot – of snow expected.

At first the Home Counties were spared the early-morning flurries, with millions leaving home for work before the London area was hit.

Winter weather
A runway at Heathrow Airport was closed earlier

But with the ice-cold conditions expected to continue for the rest of the day, there are fears the country’s transport network could be at buckling point for the rush hour.

Flights have been cancelled at airports including Heathrow, where a runway was closed so workers could clear snow and ice. It had reopened by midday after around 170 flights were pulled.

The West Country, eastern England, the North East and Scotland have also been hit hard.

More than 1,000 schools in Wales were among those shut for the day, with some sixth-form and college students having their A-level exams postponed.

No bread at Sainsbury's in Ripley as panic-buying is reported ahead of snow
Panic-buying has been reported at supermarkets in Derbyshire and Wales

Most of the UK is seeing temperatures hover around zero. Amber alerts are in place for the Midlands, London and the South, the east of England, the South West, the North West and Northern Ireland.

In Wales, a power cut left 10,000 people without electricity. There were reports of panic-buying in South Wales, the West Country and the Home Counties as shops ran low on stock.

Merthyr Tydfil has been among the worst hit areas and the A4232 leading into Cardiff was packed with commuters who left home despite the conditions. The closure of a section of the M4 at Bridgend caused morning rush hour headaches for many.

There have been severe hold-ups for rail passengers, with many companies cancelling services to help them cope with problems caused by the weather.

Winter weather Jan 18th
Some have been making the most of the weather

Eurostar axed four services between London and Brussels. Train firms are advising passengers to check with operators before travelling.

While commuters have been facing misery, the winter wonderland scenes have brought joy to thousands of youngsters who got the day off.

Sky’s David Crabtree said pupils at well over 100 schools were told to stay at home across the West Midlands as the region braces for a 14-hour deluge of snow.

Few parts of the UK will escape the wintry weather as it continues into the weekend.

Sky News weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said between 20-30cm of snow could fall in South Wales, with blizzards and snow drifts in higher areas.

A red alert in South Wales - with up to 30cm expected.Yellow and amber alerts for other parts of the country.
The Met Office has a red alert in South Wales – amber and yellow elsewhere

She said: “There will be heavy snow across Wales for most of the day.

“Southwest England can also expect snow, and it will continue spreading east into the Midlands, northwest England, central and southern England by this afternoon.”

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Snow will later reach Scotland, northeast England, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and East Anglia, she said.

A bactrian camel braves the snow at Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire.
A bactrian camel braves the snow at Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire

There is up to 10cm of snow likely in northern and eastern England as well as Ireland and southern and eastern Scotland on Saturday. Snow elsewhere will be lighter but it will be bitterly cold.

Sunday could also bring persistent but light snow to southeast England and some flurries for Scotland.

Darron Burness, from the AA, said commuting in the wintry conditions was “likely to test man and machine”.

Those who decide to travel have been urged to travel prepared with a fully charged mobile phone, warm waterproof clothes, boots and a blanket, some food and drink, and have a torch, ice scraper, de-icer and a shovel.

Snow: Travel Fears For Rush Hour Commuters – Sky News
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