Drivers urged to take care as 'mini Beast from the East' tightens its grip

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Drivers are being urged to take extra care today after the return of wintry weather.

The weather system dubbed the 'mini Beast from the East' brought snow and ice overnight.

The 'mini Beast from the East' brought snow and ice over night

The 'mini Beast from the East' brought snow and ice over night

Main routes across the region are passable with caution but side roads are treacherous.

The A66 trans-Pennine route is closed and high winds are causing problems on the A1M between Durham and Darlington.

Newcastle Airport is 'open and fully operational' today. Passengers are advised to arrive as normal for their flights. There are no reports of delays to Metro or train services.

The Shields Ferry was suspended last night due to the river swell but services are running as normal today.

Bitterly cold temperatures will feel as low as minus 10C today and The Met Office has warnings in place for more snow and ice across the region this morning - but the bad weather is expected to ease as the day goes on.

Richard Leonard, Highways England's head of road safety, said: "Our gritter drivers will be out treating our roads around the clock but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow is forecast.

"Make sure you keep your distance and reduce your speed if you need to travel because, even in conditions that seem normal and when the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh salt has not been worked into the carriageway.

"Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel if they really need to travel."

Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson said: "It's going to be a very, very cold start, with a widespread frost and ice around as well.

"And we have plenty of snow showers to start the day. These will be heaviest and most frequent across southwestern areas, so we're talking parts of Wales and the south west of England in particular.

"Across some southwestern parts the snow will continue throughout the day. We're looking at some fairly large snowfall totals."

Mr Wilson said people could see 10-15cm of snow, and up to 25cm over higher ground.

He said snow showers in other parts of the country were expected to ease throughout the day, with some spells of sunshine possible.

"It will stay windy, and it will stay very cold indeed. Temperatures barely above freezing, and in the wind it will feel like it's well below freezing," he said.

Mr Wilson said it will feel as low as minus 8C or minus 10C in places, particularly across southern areas.

Heathrow Airport said 'extreme wintry weather' was expected, adding: "In preparation, we've worked with our airlines to consolidate Sunday's flight schedule, moving passengers on to fewer flights.

"This decision enables us to provide more certainty to passengers around departing flights, whilst ensuring safety and service standards despite the challenging conditions.

"Our teams will be working throughout the night to keep our runways and taxiways operational and we will be closely monitoring the weather forecasts with our on-site Met Office.

"As always, we advise passengers to take care when travelling to the airport and ensure they check their flight status with their airline before coming to Heathrow."

Hartlepool Rovers Rugby Club posted a pictue on Facebook of their goal posts bending in yesterday's havey winds.

Gatwick Airport tweeted on Saturday night: "Gatwick is currently operating a normal service, however the weather is predicted to deteriorate and all passengers are strongly advised to check with their airline for the latest flight information before leaving for the airport."

Stansted Airport and Luton Airport also advised passengers to check with their airlines.

The M25 was gridlocked on Saturday between junctions 17 and 18 anti-clockwise after an air ambulance attended a crash, while a collision also closed the westbound junction of the M4 in Wiltshire between junctions 14 and 15.

Meanwhile, 11 people were rescued or made their own way to safety after two rowing boats and an accompanying safety boat capsized in the River Stour in Bournemouth.
Local media reported that most of the group were teenage girls, along with one adult in the safety vessel.