Met Office extends snow and ice warnings as UK freeze leaves thousands without power
Thousands of people have spent a second night without power in freezing conditions
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The weather alert comes after the Scottish government declared a major incident for Shetland on Tuesday (13 December) after thousands of people spent a second night without power as temperatures plummeted.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution is working to restore supplies to about 2,800 homes, but warned that full restoration is only likely by the end of the week.
SSEN spokesman Graeme Keddie told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Firstly I’d like to apologise to those customers still without power and reassure them that we are making every effort to get to them.
“This morning, as of overnight, we have 2,800 homes without power across Shetland. We made very good progress yesterday reconnecting 1,000 homes and hope to make continued progress today, particularly as the travel situation we talked about, the flights restarting, and also we’ve got 15 additional line crews are coming over on this morning’s freight ferry and more by helicopter so that will make a real difference to restoration efforts.
“This has been a very concentrated and explosive weather event on Shetland which was far more severe than forecast. The local teams have said this is the worst they’ve seen since 1995 over the Christmas period.”
Elsewhere, snow fell in parts of Cornwall on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning and the coldest night of the year was recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire on Monday into Tuesday at minus 17.3C.
More snow on the way
Met Office spokesperson Becky White said that areas covered by the latest weather warnings could see up to 10cm of fresh snow on higher ground. She said: “We could see a good few new centimetres of snow accumulation. We could see around 1-4cms at lower levels and 5-10cm on higher ground across the Highlands.
“There will be a risk of ice across the country over the next few days, but particularly tonight. There is a band of rain moving in from the South West, but it may turn into snow as it reaches land.”
Ms White added that the South West could see 1-2cm of snow at lower levels, and 1-10cms of snow at higher ground such as Dartmoor and Exmoor. An ice warning is in place in eastern England and in northern parts of Northern Ireland, including Belfastuntil noon on Wednesday.
The freezing weather saw scores of schools across the UK forced to close for a second day on Tuesday, with councils from Aberdeenshire to Cambridgeshire reporting closures for reasons including heating failure, burst pipes and snow and ice.
In Sheffield, engineers said they had just over 100 households left to reconnect to gas as of Tuesday evening after nearly 2,000 homes in the city lost supplies 11 days earlier when a burst water main filled the local gas network with more than a million litres of water.
Drivers also faced delays on the roads with motorists on northern sections of the M25 stranded for several hours as traffic was at a standstill. Other roads in the area which suffered long delays included the M11, M2, A21, A27 and A249, while Sussex Police issued a warning for “treacherous” roads.
AA president Edmund King warned that the number of breakdown callouts is around 25% higher than normal and urged drivers to check fuel levels and take warm clothing, a charged mobile phone, food and drink before travelling. He said: “Many drivers were stranded or severely delayed on the northern section of the M25 last night between London Colney and the M11.
The cold weather also brought tragedy in Solihull as three boys aged eight, 10 and 11 died after falling into an icy lake. A boy, aged six, is still fighting for his life after falling into the water during the same incident. He was pulled from the water by emergency crews, including a police officer who tried to punch through ice during the rescue efforts and remains in a critical condition in hospital.