UK weather: temperatures to plummet again on Saturday night

Thousands of people have been trapped, delayed and had their journeys disrupted by heavy snow that swept across parts of the UK, as forecasters warned more severe weather was on the way over the weekend. Scotlandcould see lows of minus 16C (3.2F) over Saturday night into Sunday as the cold snap continues, the Met Office said.

Hundreds of motorists were stranded on Friday, while air and rail passengers faced cancellations or difficult journeys and more than 1,000 schools were closed. Some householders experienced power cuts and sporting fans had events cancelled or travel plans wrecked.

Trains on the South Western Railway network were expected to be disrupted until 9am on Saturday after heavy snowfall, according to National Rail Enquiries. Southeastern, Transport for Wales and Great Western Railway services were expected to run as normal.

Temperatures are likely to plunge again by Saturday evening, according to the Met Office. Meteorologist Alex Burkill said parts of England could also see sub-zero temperatures reach double digits. “Over Saturday we’ll see some snow showers around the far north, the far west and the far east of the UK. Elsewhere it’s a cold day again and feeling especially cold in the south where it will be breezy, but for most it will be dry and sunny.

“[Saturday] night it’s likely to be very similar to Thursday night – we could get down to minus 16C (3.2F) in Scotland, but it’s worth bearing in mind that even across the south we could get into negative double figures.”

He said Benson in Oxfordshire was one of the spots predicted to reach minus 10C (14F) or below. “Across the bulk of the UK, tomorrow night’s going to be really cold.”

Salt-spreaders covered 80,000 miles of England’s motorways and major A roads through the night to keep traffic moving, Highways England said. Kent traffic police said on Saturday that it had been an “incredibly busy night” with multiple vehicles stranded on the A229 and the A249. The force said there had also been “numerous RTCs [road traffic collisions] and vehicles going the wrong way on the motorway”. The Met Office said Kent had seen the most snow late on Friday and into Saturday morning, although it was beginning to ease off.

Most flights were cancelled from a snow-covered Bristol airport on Friday, but normal service was expected for Saturday. London City airport closed its runway on Friday night due to heavy snowfall, causing some flights to be diverted and others to be cancelled. The airport said flights were expected to resume as normal on Saturday morning. Flight disruption at airports in Cardiff and Bristol left queues of rugby fans facing a race to get to Paris ahead of Friday evening’s France vs Wales Six Nations opener.

There were also cheerful tales of people coming to the help of others. Staff at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall opened its doors for 140 people trapped on the A30, while at Callywith college a few miles away, workers stayed all night to help care for students who could not get home through the snow.

There were long delays on the westbound M3 between junctions six and seven near Basingstoke caused by snow and stranded vehicles. Tailbacks stretched to Farnborough.

Emergency services personnel, local authority workers and NHS staff were praised for battling into work through the driving snow and windswept drifts and helping keep the country moving as much as possible.

Temperatures in some places dipped into minus double figures, with Braemar in the Scottish Highlands hitting -15.4C (4.3F), making it the coldest night in the UK for seven years.

The areas worst hit by the snow, however, were south Wales, the West Country, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. By Friday evening, RAF Odiham in Hampshire had recorded 19cm of snow. In some places, there were drifts to depths of 1 metre or more.

Emergency services personnel, local authority workers and NHS staff were praised for battling into work through the driving snow and windswept drifts and helping keep the country moving as much as possible.

Temperatures in some places dipped into minus double figures, with Braemar in the Scottish Highlands hitting -15.4C (4.3F), making it the coldest night in the UK for seven years.

The areas worst hit by the snow, however, were south Wales, the West Country, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. By Friday evening, RAF Odiham in Hampshire had recorded 19cm of snow. In some places, there were drifts to depths of 1 metre or more.

Claire Cranton, who works for the mobile network operator’s trade body GSMA, was trapped in her car on the A303 near Chicklade, near Warminster, Wiltshire, for more than two hours on Friday. “It has been quite entertaining,” she said. “You see a bit of the British spirit of people walking up and down talking to each other and trying to sort out what’s going on.”

Also affected were rugby fans and pundits trying to get to Paris for the Six Nations opening game between Wales and France on Friday night. Disruption to flights from airports in Cardiff and Bristol left queues of fans facing a race against time to get to the game.

England’s national medical director, Prof Stephen Powis, said: “It is extraordinary to see the lengths that NHS are going to in order to make sure that people get the care they need. Volunteers have dug out ambulances from the snow, slept over in hospitals to make sure they are there to care for patients and braved the wintry conditions to get to work.”

The UK is not yet out of the deep freeze, though the snow is unlikely to be as heavy. A fresh yellow warning for snow and ice covering the eastern coast of England, the western coast of Wales, most of Northern Ireland and northern Scotland took effect from noon on Friday until the same time on Saturday.

There was also a yellow warning for snow to the south-west of London – covering as far south as the Channel coast and as far west as the North Wessex Downs – from Friday afternoon until about midnight.There was a similar warning for ice covering most of southern England and Wales that was valid until about 11am on Saturday.

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