Heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures caused chaos on the region's roads.
Sunderland was worst hit by the weather conditions after 5cm of snow combined with ice to hit all major roads in and out of the city.
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Accidents were reported across the area with emergency services warning motorists about the severe conditions.
Commuters heading into Wearside were slowed down by a broken down car on the A19 south bound, between the A1231 exit, and the A183 turn off, which caused queues beyond the Testos roundabout.
The A19 north bound was closed around Seaham and traffic was diverted along the A1018 and Ryhope but moved very slowly.
Hillside Way, the A182, was closed in both directions and the sheer weight of traffic diverted through Hetton brought Front Street to a stand still.
Motorist in South Hetton had a one hour wait after lorries became stranded and added to the problems by blocking the path of gritters which were trying to get through.
A car and van got stuck at the top of Chester Road, A183, between the Hastings Hill roundabout and the A19 added to the chaos.
Parts of the A690 Durham Road were closed after a number of lorries became stuck on ice and snow and Houghton Cut was closed in both directions as a result of a two car collision.
Traffic on the A1(M) between junction 61 and 65 was moving slowly and there were problems on the south bound carriage way at the Washington services.
Parts of Philadelphia Lane were closed were closed because of hazardous conditions and drivers on Newcastle Road, East Boldon, were advised to reduce their speed to 30mph after ice was reported on the road.
Inside the city limits feeder roads became clogged and many areas were grid locked after vehicles got stuck on untreated roads.
Drivers in Ashbrooke, Seaham, Washington and Country Durham also struggled with reports of long delays flooding in from the surrounding areas.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "All A roads in the area were passable although drivers may encounter untreated stretches of road way.
"The police advise that speeds are reduced and journeys planned and extra time is allowed to complete these journeys."
The Met office issued servere weather warnings and predicted that the heavy snow showers would continue adding to the accumulations of between two and five centimetres.
The public were advised to take extra care and refer to the Highways Agency for further advice on disrupted motor ways and trunk roads.
For more information call 08700 660115 or visit www.highways.gov.uk