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
Overnight temperatures dropped to -16C
Temperatures at Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands dropped to minus 16C on Wednesday night, making it the coldest night of the year so far, according to the Met Office.
It also marks the lowest temperature in the UK in the month of March since 2010, when minus 18.6C was recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire.
A yellow warning for snow and ice is in place in the north of Scotland, where temperatures were as low as minus 4C in the early hours of Thursday morning.
A further yellow warning is also in place for snow across the central belt, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders – with an additional warning for snow and ice in place for the south east of the country.
Blizzards and deep snow forecast
Snowstorms are due to affect large parts of England on Thursday after the coldest March temperature in more than a decade was recorded overnight.
An amber warning for “strong winds bringing blizzard conditions” has been issued for 21 hours from 3pm on Thursday until midday on Friday, covering major cities including Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds.
The Met Office says between 10 and 20cm of snow is likely to fall for an area stretching from Stoke-on-Trent to Durham, with up to 40cm in some places.
There is likely to be "significant disruption" to transport, power lines and mobile phone network coverage, with heavy snow, strong easterly winds and blizzards predicted.
East Midlands Airport closes ‘temporarily'
East Midlands Airport has temporarily closed its runway due to the weather.
The airport is under a yellow weather warning for snow in Leicestershire, which is in place until 2pm on Friday (10 March).
In a statement, the airport said: “Following a period of heavy snowfall, we have temporarily closed our runway. Health and safety will always be our top priority and operations will resume at the earliest opportunity.
“Passengers are advised to contact their airline for the most up-to-date flight information.”
The airport’s website says that four flights have been held at the gate, while others scheduled to depart later on Thursday have been delayed.
Train lines disrupted
Network Rail has said multiple fallen trees have blocked lines between Manchester and Sheffield, meaning no trains can run.
Train operators TransPennine Express and Northern are among those affected by the severe weather, with many services cancelled.
Merseyrail, which runs train services in Merseyside and surrounding areas, has said its operations would not start until around 10am on Friday due to severe weather.
The operator said: “Poor weather conditions means Merseyrail service is currently suspended until approximately 10am. Merseyrail have been unable to source any replacement buses due to the severe weather.”
Drivers told ‘only travel if absolutely necessary'
Heavy snowfall overnight has left drivers on the M62 motorway in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire stranded for more than seven hours.
National Highways North-West estimated at one point congestion on the eastbound carriageway between Rochdale and Saddleworth stretched to around eight miles.
Derbyshire Constabulary has urged drivers not to travel in the Peak District on Friday morning “unless absolutely necessary” as most roads in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales areas were “impassable”. The force said it is working with mountain rescue teams to respond to reports of stranded vehicles.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland also warned people to only travel if their journey is essential.
Flights delayed due to snow
The majority of flights departing from Liverpool John Lennon Airport were delayed on Friday morning due to heavy snow. Passengers are advised to check with airlines for the latest information on flights.
The airport said: “Heavy snow falls this morning have impacted on flights in and out of the airport. Our teams are continuing to clear the snow so we can be fully operational again soon but please check the status of flights with your airline if travelling today.”
Amber and yellow weather warnings in place
The Met Office still has several weather warnings in place for snow and ice, including two amber warnings covering northern England and the Midlands until midday and Wales until 9am.
Four yellow warnings for snow also cover much of the rest of the nation, with the exception of south-east England and western Scotland.
Snow chaos on roads ‘made worse’ by drivers’ actions
Drivers have been blamed for exacerbating disruption on the roads caused by heavy snow.
Greater Manchester Police said ploughing and gritting on the M62 was “severely delayed” by motorists illegally using the hard shoulder and closed lanes, while the RAC said “the situation was made worse” by drivers overtaking other vehicles and getting stuck in fresh snow.
National Highways said it was “well prepared” for the conditions and had deployed gritters for the past week. But some vehicles heading east across the Pennines from Greater Manchester on the M62 overnight were stranded for more than seven hours due to the conditions.
GMP’s traffic officers posted a message on Twitter which said: “(We are) doing our best, but ploughing/gritting have been severely delayed due to the hard shoulder and red X lanes being blocked by some drivers illegally using them.”
East Midlands Airport reopens
East Midlands Airport has reopened after being closed for around three hours on Friday morning.
Flights were also suspended at Birmingham Airport for around an hour to clear snow from the runway, while delays were also reported at Bristol Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport due to severe weather.
Passengers are advised to check the status of their flights with airlines if travelling today.
Network Rail to reopen snow-blocked routes
Network Rail said it hopes two Peak District rail routes blocked by snow will reopen between 3pm and 6pm today.
The closure of the Hope Valley line means no trains arecurrently running between Manchester and Sheffield, and there are no services between Buxton and Hazel Grove due to the Buxton line being blocked.
Ross Davies, Network Rail’s North West route head of control, said: “As expected substantial snowfall hit the Pennines overnight and our teams are out fighting against the elements to get trains moving on our higher routes through the Peak District.
“I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we make the Hope Valley and Buxton lines safe for trains to run and ask people to keep checking National Rail Enquiries for the latest travel information so they aren’t caught out in the cold.”