Warning to motorists as North East braces for icy weather

Drivers are being urged to take extra care as the cold weather continues across the North East.

Sunday, 10th December 2017, 11:55 am
Updated Sunday, 10th December 2017, 12:00 pm
People take part in sledding on Gold Hill Common, Chalfont St Peter, in Buckinghamshire, today. Much of the country has been affected by snow and icy conditions.

The region looks to have avoided the worst of the weather affecting the rest of the country.

But temperatures are set to dip sharply overnight and Cleveland Police has Tweeted: "Roads may be icy or slushy in places today; allow extra time for your journey and drive according to the road conditions #drivetoarrive ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️"

Heavy snowfall across parts of the UK is causing widespread disruption, closing roads and grounding flights at an airport.

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Severe weather is forecast for a swathe of North Wales and central England today and snow has already fallen on parts of Powys, Herefordshire and Shropshire at a rate of several centimetres an hour.

Significant build-ups have been also reported in Leicestershire, Worcestershire and Bedfordshire, while snow has been falling heavily in Birmingham city centre.

Flights have been suspended at Birmingham Airport while the runway is cleared, leaving passengers facing delays, while a north-bound section of the M1 has been closed in Leicestershire due to numerous vehicles being stranded.

Police forces in Wales and across the Midlands have urged motorists not to travel unless "absolutely necessary" as they deal with surging calls.

Persistent heavy snowfall is expected in the region throughout the morning, leading the Met Office to issue an amber weather warning that will be in place until 6pm.

Up to 10cm is expected to build up quite widely, with 15-20cm in some spots, raising the prospect of roads becoming impassable.

The amber alert is accompanied by a yellow warning of wind for parts of eastern England, London and the South East, the South West and Wales that could bring "short-term loss of power and other services" as well as transport disruption.

London and the rest of southern England and Wales will instead be lashed by strong winds and rain, where gusts could reach 70mph, according to the Met Office.

Highways England has advised road users across the Midlands and northern England to check the forecast and routes before heading out as a section of the M1 was closed.

The authority tweeted that traffic had stopped on the M1 northbound between J16 and J17 due to "numerous break downs/stuck vehicles".

North Wales Police, Leicestershire Police and the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) urged motorists not to travel unless "absolutely necessary".

The CMPG tweted: "Lots of snow overnight and it's still falling, difficult driving conditions across the motorway network & region's roads please only travel if absolutely necessary, make sure your car is fit to travel in & take extra clothes, drinks and snacks in case you get stuck or delayed."

Met Office forecaster Steven Keate said: "The worst of the snow is currently across parts of Wales and the west and southern Midlands, while there is some snow falling over the home counties as well.

"Herefordshire, Shropshire and Powys have seen a few centimetres in a couple of hours.

"Steady snow is expected as this weather system moves over the next few hours into the afternoon roughly from mid-Wales to the north of London.

"There's going to a split from the M4 corridor south, where it will mostly be rain, although the winds are really picking up there as well with gusts up to 60mph in some places in the south.

"North of the Humber should get away with it today, although there may be showers in the far north of Scotland."

An NHS trust in the West Midlands was forced to appeal for help online after the snow left hospitals with nurse shortages.

Heart of England trust, which represents hospitals in Birmingham and Solihull, asked on Twitter: "Do you have a 4x4 and can volunteer to help our nurses get into our hospitals at good hope 424 7564 or heartlands 424 0483 pls give us a call. Thanks"

Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield serves northern Birmingham, while Heartlands hospital is based in Bordesley Green, in the east of the city.

The trust earlier said online: "Trained nurses needed at goodhope hospital due to heavy snow. If can get in pls call site office 424 7564."

Luton Airport shut down its runway for around an hour on Sunday morning, temporarily suspending all flights just after 10am.

It reopened the strip for departures only at 11.30am, writing online: "For the latest status of your flight please check with your airline.

"Passengers are advised to leave additional time for your journey to the airport. We apologise for any inconvenience."