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Fresh snow warnings as thousands left without power in -12C cold snap

Hundreds of households were left without power on Sunday after heavy snowfall wreaked havoc as a cold snap hit the country.

Overnight temperatures in the Scottish Highlands dropped to minus 12.5C according to the Met Office, which issued fresh yellow weather warnings for snow and ice on Sunday affecting large swathes of Scotland, the Midlands, Wales and the North East.

In Cumbria dozens of drivers were trapped in their cars on Saturday night after being stuck in the snow. The county’s fire and rescue service scrambled to rescue motorists as police urged people to avoid travel.

In a post on social media on Sunday morning it said: “CFRS have been working through the night rescuing people from their cars trapped in deep snow. Please do not travel unless necessary as many roads are still affected with snow and ice.”

Cars abandoned in Cumbria on Sunday morning as police declare a major incident (@nigeltomo)
Cars abandoned in Cumbria on Sunday morning as police declare a major incident (@nigeltomo)

The region faced further turmoil on Sunday morning as more than 2,500 people woke up without power thanks to heavy snow, Electricity North West said.

In most cases, the electricity operator estimated that power would be restored at 10pm on Sunday.

Electricity North West posted online: “Access is difficult and our teams are using 4x4s to try to reach sections of the damaged network.”

Met Office chief meteorologist, Jason Kelly, said: “The first Atlantic air mass for a while is making some inroads across southern and central parts of the country bringing less cold conditions to many southern areas, whilst the cold air mass continues to hold on in the north. Where these two air masses meet is the focus for continuing ice risk.

“For parts of northeast Scotland, wintry showers will bring some icy conditions overnight [early hours of Monday], as well as some accumulating snow inland.”

A farmer checks on his cattle in the the North York Moors National Park (PA)
A farmer checks on his cattle in the the North York Moors National Park (PA)

Kendal resident Hannah Smith said she had never seen such heavy snow in Ambleside and Grasmere in the Lask District. It took Ms Smith nine hours to get home in Kendal from Grasmere on Saturday night – a journey which usually takes under 30 minutes.

She said she decided to abandon her car and walk to the nearest train station in Windermere after waiting in traffic with two young children for four-and-a-half hours.

Ambleside resident Harrison Ward said the snow was the heaviest he had seen during eight years of living in the Cumbrian town, adding that lots of people had abandoned their vehicles on Saturday as they “tried to find refuge”.

Mr Ward said: “It really feels like you’re walking through the Alps or some ski resort at the moment. Once a few cars have stopped or crashed or been abandoned, then it all comes to a halt.

Scenic scenes in Blyth, Northumberland, yesterday (PA)
Scenic scenes in Blyth, Northumberland, yesterday (PA)

“So we’ve seen complete gridlock through the town with lots of wheel spinning going on – there’s a real smell of burnt clutches in the air. Some vehicles moved about 100m in an hour’s time.”

One driver said they were stuck between Ambleside and Windermere for more than five hours on Saturday.

The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We’ve had no communication from any of the authorities and we’ve not seen a single gritter trying to free anyone.

“My wife and four-year-old had to walk two miles – there were cars driving on the wrong side of the road that caused more jams.”

The snow-covered peak of Beinn Eighe and the mountains of Torridon reflected in Loch Glascarnoch near Ullapool, Wester Ross (PA)
The snow-covered peak of Beinn Eighe and the mountains of Torridon reflected in Loch Glascarnoch near Ullapool, Wester Ross (PA)

The adverse weather also caused East Midlands airport to temporarily close its runway after heavy snow blanketed the ground.

The airport said in a tweet at about 8.10am on Sunday: “Due to snow, our runway is temporarily closed. We will update you as soon as possible.”

It comes after Glasgow airport suspended all flights on Saturday morning as many inbound aircraft were diverted, delayed or cancelled.

The UK Health Security Agency has issued yellow and amber cold-health alerts for the health sector covering all regions of England through until Tuesday.