January 26, 2023

An ice warning covering much of the Southeast will remain in effect until 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, after snow, ice and fog caused widespread travel disruption in parts of the country.

While Scotland experienced the lowest temperatures, with the mercury dropping below -15C, transport problems were greatest in the South East. The first inches of snow to fall this winter knocked motorists traveling on treacherous roads and some train services out of action as airports canceled flights after ice and fog closed runways.

The Met Office said cold weather would continue throughout the week and issued a yellow snow and ice warning for northern Scotland and north east England from Tuesday midnight to Thursday afternoon.

The Met Office said heavy snow would fall in parts of the north and Scotland on Tuesday, with as much as 8 inches (20 cm) above high ground, and the potential for temperatures in northern Scotland to drop even further than -15.7 C recorded in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, overnight on Sunday.

Milder conditions were expected by the weekend, although a Met Office spokesman said the outlook remained uncertain.

Train drivers and train passengers in the southeast in particular had a hard time on Monday as winter conditions closed major roads and railway lines in the early morning.

National Highways said it had reopened all south-east motorways before lunchtime after many routes, including the M25, were blocked in places by snow and accidents.

The UK’s busiest motorway, which orbits London, was partially covered in snow and completely closed for several hours between Junctions 23 and 25 in Hertfordshire due to scissor lift lorries. Gritters, snow plows and emergency services were deployed to reopen all roads in the region.

National Highways said it had up to 25 gritters treating the M25 like snow and ice overnight, spreading 960 tonnes of salt and more than 18,000 liters of antifreeze. The agency urged motorists to continue driving with caution because of the icy conditions.

The AA president, Edmund King, said breakdown reports were about 25% higher than normal.

On railways, winter conditions hit services in the South East particularly, after several inches fell around London, Anglia and Kent. Southeastern trains issued a “do not travel” warning on Monday morning and there was also significant disruption to Greater Anglia, South Western Railway and Southern services ahead of the strike action due to begin on Tuesday.

Network Rail said it is deploying de-icing trains to treat tracks, particularly in the South East where electrified services rely on third rail. It said the first early morning trains were likely to be most affected by freezing weather.

Early train services around Edinburgh were disrupted when icicles in a tunnel caused signal failure. All East Midlands Railway trains were delayed due to a low speed freight train derailing and blocking the line.

London Underground trains were delayed and disrupted, particularly the outer network, as ice and snow caused equipment failures on several lines.

Network Rail said most services in Britain outside the South East were running normally on the first day of a new weekday timetable, following the official changeover of Sunday timetables.

More than 300 flights to UK airports were canceled on Sunday and Monday, including Heathrow, Manchester, Luton and Bristol. Gatwick and Stansted airports temporarily closed their runways on Sunday to clear snow. Gatwick was the hardest hit, according to data from Cirium, with 91 flights canceled over the weekend and dozens more on Monday morning.

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Police warned people to continue to avoid open water after three children died after being pulled from a lake in Solihull in the West Midlands on Sunday afternoon after falling through ice.

Richard Stanton, the area commander of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We know the weather forecast for the next few days is expected to be bitterly cold. Please, both adults and children, stay away from open water. Under no circumstances should you venture on ice, no matter how thick or safe you think it is.”

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