UK snow: travel chaos ahead of weekend as Storm Larisa batters UK with blizzards

Drivers on the M62 motorway were stuck for more than seven hours in miles-long tailbacks

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Storm Larisa has caused chaos in the UK today (10 March) with gale-force winds and blizzard blighting much of the country.

Three amber warnings were issued by the Met Office for northern England, the Midlands, North Wales and Northern Ireland, while four yellow warnings for snow also cover much of the UK. Travel was heavily affected by conditions across the country, including drivers on the M62 motorway in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire left stranded for more than seven hours.

Met Office meteorologist Jonathan Vautrey said the storm, which has been named by the French weather service, is bringing rain and snow to the UK. He said: “Storm Larisa, which Meteo France have named, is the same low pressure system that is bringing us the bands of rain.

“But essentially, we’re on the northern side of the low pressure system and it’s the southern side of that low pressure system that is going to be bringing particularly strong winds to parts of France.

“So that did originate out in the Atlantic and then it tracked its way eastward towards us, and the weather fronts that are swirling around that low pressure system have then been pushing into the cold air that has been in places across the UK and allowing that rain to start falling as snow across several areas.”

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said a pocket of western Scotland covering Glasgow and the county of Argyll may be the only region untouched by heavy rain and snow over the next 24 hours.

He warned that the worst of the weather is expected in north-west Wales and northern England, where “gusts of easily 50mph” are on a collision course with “30 to 40cm of snow”.

Snow and ice cause travel chaos as Storm Larisa hits UK with blizzards

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Coldest night of the year so far at -15C

Tuesday night was the coldest night of the year so far, the Met Office has said.

Temperatures at Kinbrace in the Highlands dropped to this year’s record low of minus 15.2C overnight – and more snow is forecast for much of the UK through the rest of the week.

Night-time sub-zero temperatures are predicted in all four UK nations until at least Friday, according to forecasters.

Yellow weather warnings in place

After a “very chilly” start to Wednesday, the Met Office has issued several yellow weather warnings for snow and ice across the UK.

The warnings cover northern and eastern Scotland until 10am, and Northern Ireland and southern England until 9am.

Forecasters have said snowfall will continue in most places until Friday, with a yellow warning for snow covering all of the UK north of Birmingham spanning from 3am on Thursday until 6pm on Friday.

A yellow warning for snow and ice also covers London and the south from midnight on Wednesday until 9am on Thursday.

Flights delayed due to snow

Flights from several UK airports have been hit by delays due adverse weather this morning, including at Bristol Airport which has temporarily closed for “snow clearing operations” until the next update at 11am.

At least 27 flights due to depart from the airport on Wednesday morning have been affected, while several arrivals have been diverted to Birmingham.

A spokesperson said “additional staff are on site to assist with the adverse weather response” and passengers have been advised to check with their airline prior to arriving at the airport.

Gatwick Airport said some passengers experienced “minor delays” on Wednesday morning but “the airport is open and flights are operating”.

Coldest overnight temperature drops further

The coldest overnight temperature of the year has dropped a further 0.2 degrees to minus 15.4C, according to the Met Office.

A reading of minus 15.2C was recorded at Kinbrace in the Highlands on Tuesday night and the temperature in the area has since decreased even further.

Level 3 Cold Weather Alert in place

A Level 3 Cold Weather Alert for the whole of England has been issued by the UK Health and Security Agency.

The alert is in place between 1am on Monday 6 March and midnight on Thursday 9 March.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, the agency’s head of extreme events and health protection, has advised people to check on vulnerable relatives and told pensioners and anyone with an underlying health condition to heat their home to at least 18C.

(Graphic: Mark Hall)(Graphic: Mark Hall)
(Graphic: Mark Hall)

Arctic air could generate ‘blizzard conditions'

Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey has said an “Arctic maritime air” drifting over the UK from the north is causing the widespread snowfall and it could generate “blizzard conditions” on Thursday (9 March).

She said: “We’re going to see a cold night again tonight, especially in Scotland. That Arctic maritime air will cross large swathes of the country on Thursday.

“There’s also some strong winds around tomorrow, so that has the potential to lead to some blizzard conditions and drifting of lying snow.”

Up to 5cm snow expected across UK on Thursday

Average snow levels of 2 to 5cm is expected across much of the UK tomorrow, the Met Office has said, including in major northern cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Up to 15cm (just under 6in) of snow is predicted to fall across higher ground in northern England, with “in excess of 25cm (just under 10in)” likely in the Scottish Highlands.

The national forecaster warned that temperatures could plummet to minus 3C in London on Wednesday night, and minus 5C in Edinburgh. The lowest predicted temperature of minus 12C is expected to be felt in Aviemore in the Highlands.

More snow is forecast across the UK on Thursday with much of the country set to see up to 5cm.

People play in the snow on the Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire (Photo: PA)People play in the snow on the Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire (Photo: PA)
People play in the snow on the Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire (Photo: PA)

‘Severe weather alert’ issued to drivers

National Highways has issued a “severe weather alert” for snow in parts of England for Wednesday afternoon, with drivers urged to only travel when essential.

The weather warning means driving conditions will be treacherous, especially for larger vehicles and those not equipped with four-wheel drive between 3pm and midnight in the West Midlands and the East of England.

HGV drivers have been asked to consider avoiding parts of the road network with steeper than normal inclines, where their vehicle could become jack-knifed or stranded, such as the M40 at junctions 4-5 and the A49 in Shropshire.

National Highways executive director of operations, Duncan Smith, said: “We are well prepared and our gritters have been out in full force since Friday and will continue to treat the roads. We are asking drivers to plan ahead, check the forecast and allow more time for their journeys.”

The latest weather warnings map

Here's the outlook for the next few days:

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