Snow: Hundreds Trapped In Cars Overnight

March 12th, 20136:04 am @

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Hundreds of motorists have been trapped overnight in their cars for up to 10 hours after heavy snow brought traffic in Sussex to a standstill.

The British Red Cross sent emergency teams out to help those who had been stuck in the freezing conditions on the A23 with tailbacks stretching 30 miles.

Snow ploughs and gritters struggled to get through to clear the roads, as up to 10cm (4in) of snow fell, after a number of vehicles jackknifed causing gridlock.

Abandoned cars had to be moved to allow the gritters, snow ploughs and emergency teams to pass.

The worst affected areas were the A23 between Crawley and Brighton and the M23 around Handcross Hill.

Snow ploughs and gritters were stuck in the traffic. (Pic: Jonathan Lava)

The Met Office has issued an orange “be prepared” warning for parts of the south east and yellow warnings for Scotland, across the north and Midlands and down the east coast.

Cheryl Baker, the 1980s popstar with the Eurovision-winning group Bucks Fizz, was among those stuck on the roads as she tried to make her way along the A23 to Brighton to her children.

In a series of furious tweets she said: “8 hours and still at a complete standstill. Bloody ridiculous. And they KNEW snow was coming.

“Could have flown to NY by now. Was it the wrong kind of snow?”

Popstars Toyah Willcox and Cheryl Baker were among those trapped

Toyah Willcox, another 1980s popstar also found herself stranded on the A23 around 15 miles from Brighton tweeted: “Still on A23, not moved yet northbound is moving freely. 6 hours! Come on snow isn’t that bad.”

Others talked of nine and 10 hour waits, including Nathan Hetherington, who finally got home at 3.20am, and posted on Twitter: “home now thanks. 9 hours on the a23 all for about an inch of snow. Mind blowing!”

One motorist, Mike Roche, estimated that he had moved around five or six miles on the A23 in 10 hours.

Speaking from his vehicle he told Sky News: “I have been in the car now for just over 10 hours. I left work in Surrey, in Thames Ditton, at 5.30pm and it’s now 3.30am. It normally takes me an hour and a quarter to get back to Hove.”

A number of motorists questioned why gritters had failed to keep the roads clear despite clear forecasts of heavy snow.

Poor road conditions have hampered much of the UK

A Highways Agency spokesman said that extra gritters had been out on the roads since 6am on Monday preparing for the freezing weather.

He said: “We’ve been working hard with our contractors and partners, including local authorities and the police, to keep the roads across the south east open.

“Our roads have been treated throughout the day; however some lorries have jack-knifed causing closures at several locations and as a result our salt spreaders and recovery vehicles have become stuck in the traffic.”

He said Highways Agency crews had been trying to recover broken down vehicles and checking up on motorists in stranded vehicles.

Sussex Police said they were working to full capacity to help motorists stuck in their cars and urged those with very young children to call 999.

More picturesque snow scenes at Allendale in Northumberland

Inspector James Biggs from the Road Policing Unit said: “Many drivers have been rescued but I know many more have endured long hours stuck in their vehicles.”

Further north, intense showers and possible snowfall was due across Suffolk, Essex and the London area, with gusty winds of up to 55mph.

Eastern and central parts of Scotland have also been hit by poor weather conditions, and a dusting of snow is expected in all other areas of the country.

By 12.30pm on Monday, there were yellow weather warnings in place across the south east coast of England, and northern and eastern parts of Scotland.

Jersey Airport was shut due to snow, and on the roads there were hazardous conditions on many major routes.

A man walks his dog in Tynemouth

Blizzard conditions were reported on the M40 in Warwickshire and there were numerous morning rush-hour accidents.

On the trains, poor rail conditions led to delays in Sussex and Hampshire, while there was also a number of signalling problems.

The closure of Jersey Airport meant a number of flights had to be cancelled.

On the roads, there were hazardous driving conditions on the A69 and A6 in Cumbria and on the A54 in Cheshire.

One lane of the M48 Severn Bridge was closed and falling trees blocked some Welsh roads.

Some of the roads where driving conditions were at their worst today included the A46 in Nottinghamshire, the A14 in Suffolk and the A353 in Dorset.

Up to 10cm (4in) of snow was forecast to settle in the worst-affected areas, including Kent, Sussex and southern Hampshire, as well as over higher ground in areas like the Pennines, while large areas could see around up to 4cm (1.6in) accumulate.

After further snowfall today, temperatures will remain below freezing in many areas for the next few days, with minimum temperatures as low as -7C.

Ladbrokes said they have been forced to slash the odds of snow reappearing across Easter weekend, March 29 to April 1.

Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1063376