Britain closes down as snow worsens

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A man uses a snow-covered phone box in Dunblane

Large areas of Britain have been brought to a halt as the big freeze tightened its grip on the nation.

Two major airports – Edinburgh and Gatwick – have closed, with motorists and rail passengers also experiencing severe disruption.

Temperatures fell as low as nearly minus 20C in the Scottish Highlands overnight – minus 19.8C was recorded in Altnaharra – and thousands of children were expected to stay at home again due to school closures.

Around six inches (15cm) of snow is expected on higher ground, with strong 30mph north-easterly winds making the temperatures feel as low as minus 7C in parts of the UK.

Forecasters warned that the onslaught of Arctic weather will not show signs of letting up until Friday. Met Office forecaster David Price said: “It will remain bitterly cold today with the strong north-easterly winds continuing to bring snow showers and making temperatures feel as low as minus six or seven degrees.

“There will be fresh snowfall across the majority of the country, with the only areas really escaping being the Midlands, the far south west of England and the west and north-west of Scotland.”

Mr Price said the snowy conditions will continue throughout Thursday, adding to the existing levels that have accumulated over the past week: “On Friday we should expect a reprieve from the showers. However, it will remain extremely cold and the snow will be back over the weekend.”

Severe weather warnings were in place for the whole of Scotland, with widespread icy roads and heavy snow expected in central and south westerly areas. Warnings were also in place for northern England, the south coast and parts of Wales.

On Wednesday, commuters worked from home, thousands of children could not go to school and motorists faced travel chaos as a number of roads were impassable. Hundreds of motorists were left stranded overnight as the weather conditions disrupted road networks. Driving conditions were described as hazardous with the AA receiving an average of 1,350 calls an hour. The RAC said callouts to breakdowns peaked at 2,000 an hour.

Train services all over the country have also been badly affected by the severe weather, with some services not operating and others being badly delayed.

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