New big freeze hits early get-aways


Lunchtime joggers brave the snow in London's Embankment Gardens

Swathes of Britain have ground to a halt as the big freeze made its return, throwing early Christmas getaway plans into jeopardy and threatening to leave homes without heating or presents over the festive period.

Arctic conditions meant flights were cancelled at several airports, while some rail services were axed entirely and traffic was brought to a standstill.

Plunging temperatures meant motorists faced “possibly the worst driving conditions imaginable” in Aberdeenshire as Scotland saw a near-repeat of the chaos earlier this month.

The disruption came as travel companies prepare for one of the busiest weekends of the year, with schools breaking up for the festive period and shoppers flocking to the high street.

And there is more misery for those who opted to order gifts online as many are left facing the prospect of depleted Christmas stockings after a number of retailers stopped deliveries entirely.

Weathermen have suggested some parts of south-east England could see snowfalls of up to 11.5cm on Saturday.

Aisling Creevey, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said the weekend looks bleak for almost every part of the UK, with some areas experiencing “significant” snowfall.

“Pretty much everywhere in the UK will be affected by snow showers at some point this weekend and temperatures will really struggle to rise above freezing during the day,” she said.

Those hoping to travel were warned they may be forced to delay their plans, with the AA warning of the impact of wintry conditions on an already busy road network.

Budget airline easyJet has already cancelled all of its flights in and out of Gatwick airport between 6am and 10am on Saturday, and warned of further disruption throughout the day.

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