“Over half of these incidents and over 3,000 of these customers are in
West Wales. The road network is really badly affected and even with 4X4s we
are unable to gain access to many locations.

“We have additional crews attempting to travel in from Brecon and
helicopters on standby to move staff into the area when it stops snowing.”

But the possibility of further incidents is high as low temperatures are set
to continue through the weekend.

Hospitals are preparing for a spike in admissions as high numbers of people
are injured in falls on icy ground.

Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol and Southampton Airports were closed for parts of
the day.

Heathrow cancelled more than 240 flights and closed one of its runways
throughout the morning. Other airports reported disruptions.

More than 400 schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 300 in Norfolk, 300
in Gloucestershire, 110 in Northamptonshire, 300 across Bedfordshire,
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire and 1,100 schools in Wales were closed.

Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire were
particularly also badly hit – with almost 700 schools across the four
counties closed by the early afternoon.

Many major roads including the M4 eastbound between Bristol and Bath and the
M50 eastbound in Herefordshire at junction three were closed.

Numerous accidents added to the problems for motorists. Among major routes
affected by accidents were the M25 in Hertfordshire, Essex and Surrey; the
M4 at Theale in Berkshire; the M3 in Surrey; the M1 in Leicestershire, the
M6 and the M54 in Staffordshire and the M62 in West Yorkshire.

The AA said they were dealing with around 900 breakdowns an hour.

Train operators were running revised schedules with one in five trains either
delayed or cancelled and Eurostar cut some journeys between London and
Brussels.

Commuters faced the possibility of being stranded tonight as all trains out of
London’s Victoria station were cancelled just before rush hour.

The Met Office warned that the snow that has fallen is here to stay – and
there will be more for London and the South East on Sunday.

But as the snow eases across many areas, ice is expected to become the main
hazard over the weekend and the Met Office has issued yellow warnings across
much of Britain.

The current flurries are expected to ease tonight but the temperatures for
most of the country will hover at around zero or -1C.

Forecaster Robin Thwaytes said: “For the weekend it will be mostly dry and
pretty cold.

“We have another band coming up from the South East that will push snow across
London and East Anglia.”

Although the wintry showers will be patchy they could bring another two inches
of snow.

Mr Thwaytes added: “The snow is probably going to take a long time to melt,
and we don’t want it to melt really quickly because we have had such a wet
winter, that would bring with it other problems.

“It looks like it will be a slow thaw, probably by next week or the week
after.”

Merthyr Tydfil was among the worst hit areas in the country today, with
reports of panic buying causing some local shops running out of stock.

Council staff in Surrey and Milton Keynes enlisted the help of 4×4 drivers to
deliver services to the vulnerable – with Surrey even managing to get 50
farmers with ploughs on board to support its existing highways teams.

The Met Office confirmed that the snow fell across the country largely as
predicted – with 30cm in some areas of Wales and four inches across large
swathes of the country.

Only Cornwall and areas of Northern Scotland escaped the white-out.

Trains between Bridgend and Cardiff Central were delayed, while there were no
services between Radyr and Coryton in South Wales, nor between Liskeard in
Cornwall and Plymouth in Devon, nor between Severn Beach and Avonmouth near
Bristol.

There were 60-minute hold-ups for passengers on trains between Derby and
Birmingham New Street due to a broken-down train at Burton-on-Trent.

Another broken-down train – near Gloucester- led to delays between Gloucester
and Newport in South Wales.

As the snow settled quickly around London, the Romford-Upminster rail line was
closed due to a train fault.

Train passengers in the centre of the capital faced delays of up to 60 minutes
to services through Blackfriars station.

On the Isle of Wight, where old Tube trains operate on the Island Line, all
services were suspended until the end of the day.

Delays continued between Bicester North and London due to a lineside equipment
problem between High Wycombe and Beaconsfield.

Trains were not stopping at most of the London Overground stations between
Watford Junction in Hertfordshire and Queen’s Park in North West London.

The NHS has urged elderly people to stock up on supplies and to avoid trips to
the shops during the worst of the weather.

Frank Saunders, Met Office Chief Forecaster, said: “Although some further
slight snowfalls are likely, with 1 to 2 cm of fresh snow in a few places,
the focus switches to ice, with temperatures staying below zero over snow
cover for many areas.

“The public should be aware of the risk of localised disruption to transport
during this spell of wintry weather.”

Steve Crosthwaite, head of the Highways Agency’s National Traffic Operations
Centre said: “We advise drivers to check road conditions and the Met Office
weather forecast before they set off and during severe weather to consider
whether their journey is essential. They may want to delay their travel
until conditions improve and to allow our winter fleet the chance to treat
the roads.”

Snow will take weeks to thaw as millions face travel chaos – Telegraph.co.uk
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