Travellers across Britain were hit by chaos on roads, train lines and airports as snow disrupted major transport routes.

As the snow hit London and south east England, Heathrows runways had to be closed temporarily at separate times for de-icing and snow clearance. The airport saw at least 240 flights cancelled on Friday, with the bad weather also affecting local airports around the country.

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A plane sits on the runway at Heathrow airport, as snow shut roads and disrupted train travel today across the UK.

At Gatwick, the single runway remained open and the only cancelled flights at the West Sussex airport today were ones to and from the Channel Islands.

Southampton airport said there would be no flights before 5pm at the earliest. Flights remained suspended at Birmingham Airport, with snow still falling.

Bristol airport said its runway was clear and flights were departing. But it warned passengers to expect delays and cancellations.

Channel Tunnel rail firm Eurostar axed four services between London and Brussels, and there were amended services on a number of domestic routes.

Wales bore the brunt of the early-morning disruption. The M4 was closed between junction 36 at Bridgend and junction 37 at Pyle due to snow.

Southern, Greater Anglia, South West Trains and the Eurostar have been running amended services on a number of routes or with speed restrictions because of the snow.

Gritters have been out in force, and the Highways Agency has issued an amber alert, advising motorists to take extra care and check weather forecasts before they travel.

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A cyclist uses a snow covered cycle path in Bristol, as snow shut roads

Weather experts warned it would be "bitterly cold" in England today, with temperatures likely to remain below zero. Most of the UK is likely to be covered with between five and 10cm of snow.

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The Met Office has issued a "red" severe weather warning for heavy snow in upland parts of south east Wales, which is set to experience the worst of the weather.

Drifting snow of up to 12in (30cm) is likely to cause severe disruption, the Met Office said, and warned people to avoid all but essential journeys.

Amber alerts were in place for the Midlands, London and the South, the east of England, the South West, the North West and Northern Ireland.

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A cyclist decides it is safer to walk as he walks through snow and ice in Bristol

Gemma Plumb, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said snow had been coming in "from all directions" overnight.

"We have had heavy snow showers in Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and much of the east coast, where we have had reports of 3cm-4cm falling," she said.

"A band of more persistent and heavy snow has moved up from the South West, across South West England, central and southern parts of Wales and central and southern England.

"The winds in the South West and Wales are strong, meaning there are blizzard conditions there.

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Commuters struggle to get home at London Bridge

The snow is expected to ease off later in the day, remaining largely in eastern areas, and in Devon and Cornwall it will turn to sleet and rain.

But it is likely to stay very cold over the weekend, with more snow likely.

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A woman makes a snow-angel in the snow in Bristol

Both Green Flag and the AA reported a lower-than-normal number of morning breakdowns, with many people staying at home.
But as the snow reached the Home Counties, the number of calls for assistance increased.

By around 2pm, the AA said it had dealt with about 6,800 breakdowns - or around 900 an hour.

The busiest areas were the south coast, parts of south west England, the Midlands and London.

By the end of the day, the AA expected to attend around 11,000 call-outs, compared with around 9,500 on an average Friday.

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Members of the public walk across Westminster Bridge as snow falls on January 18, 2013 in London

Darron Burness, the AA's head of special operations, said: "After such a busy week, today's been a 'snow day' for millions with far fewer breakdowns.

"However, there's been a big impact on the roads as the snow fell so heavily with traffic crawling on many routes and we've had reports of journeys taking three or four times longer than usual.

"With the snow compacting down and turning icy, we're likely to see treacherous driving conditions this evening and throughout the weekend. Any fresh snow on top will just add to the problems.

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Shoppers walk in the high street after heavy snowfall in Guisborough


On the Tube, there were severe delays on the Metropolitan line between Harrow-on-the-Hill in north west London and Aldgate in the City of London.

There was no service anti-clockwise on the Circle line due to an earlier faulty train at South Kensington in west London.

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  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A man uses a tractor as he tries to try and keep the roads open in Tanfield, Durham as more snows falls in the UK.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A woman digs her way out after more snow falls today in Tanfield County, Durham.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A woman digs her way out after more snow falls today in Tanfield County, Durham.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A man uses a tractor as he tries to try and keep the roads open in Tanfield, Durham as more snows falls in the UK.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A woman digs her way out after more snow falls today in Tanfield County, Durham.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A woman digs her way out after more snow falls today in Tanfield County, Durham.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    Two woman battle through the snow after more snow falls today in Tanfield County Durham.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A man shovels snow after more snow falls today in Tanfield County Durham.

  • Winter weather Jan 25

    A woman digs her way out after more snow falls today in Tanfield County, Durham.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A man struggles in the snow as he walks past the starters box on the PGA Centenary Course after more snowfall today at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. The course will be used for the 2014 Ryder Cup.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A road traffic sign covered in snow and ice at Spring Cottage, Derbyshire as the winter weather continues across the UK.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    People struggle in the snow with shovels on a golf course at Gleneagles after more snowfall today in Perthshire.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A man struggles in the snow as he walks past the starters box on the PGA Centenary Course after more snowfall today at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. The course will be used for the 2014 Ryder Cup.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A man walks his dog near Auchterarder, Perthshire after heavy snowfall overnight.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Loggers Trucks collect trees in Kielder Forest, Northumberland where snow fell overnight.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Snow and ice cover barges and boats at Foxton Locks in Market Harborough, Leicestershire as the winter weather continues across the UK

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    General view of a street in Pricetown, Dartmoor, as snow starts to fall again.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Don Clegg, 80, clears snow from his drive in Kielder, Northumberland as the winter weather continues across the UK.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Loggers Trucks battle up the hill in Kielder Forest, Northumberland where snow fell overnight.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A man fits snow chains to his car in preparation for driving in hazardous conditions as the winter weather continues across the UK.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Don Clegg, 80, in his garden in Kielder, Northumberland as the winter weather continues across the UK.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Loggers Trucks collect trees in Kielder Forest, Northumberland where snow fell overnight.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Loggers Trucks collect trees in Kielder Forest, Northumberland where snow fell overnight.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Mum Stephanie Koch (right) and daughter Kadie 4 enjoy the snow in Kielder, Northumberland as the winter weather continues across the UK.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Dogs walking in Innerleithen, the Scottish Borders as snow showers hit the East of Scotland.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A car sets off down a snow covered road in the Borders as snow showers hit the East of Scotland.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A snow covered road in Galashiels the Scottish Borders as snow showers hit the East of Scotland.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A horse runs along a snow covered field in the Borders as snow showers hit the East of Scotland.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Sheep look for food in the Scottish Borders as snow showers hit the East of Scotland.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A snow covered road in Galashiels the Scottish Borders as snow showers hit the East of Scotland.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    A car sets off down a snow covered road in the Borders as snow showers hit the East of Scotland.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Mum Stephanie Koch (right) and daughter Kadie 4 enjoy the snow in Kielder, Northumberland as the winter weather continues across the UK.

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Snow and ice cover Foxton Locks in Market Harborough, Leicestershire as the winter weather continues across the UK

  • Winter weather - Jan 22nd

    Snow and ice cover Foxton Locks in Market Harborough, Leicestershire as the winter weather continues across the UK

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

    A woman walks a dog through a snow covered Rose Garden at The Arno in Birkenhead, northwest England, on January 21, 2013. Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has left closed schools and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Freddy the Boston Terrier plays in the snow on January 21, 2013 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Canada Geese fly from the snow covered banks of the River Trent on January 21, 2013 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Wild birds feed on the snow covered banks of the River Trent on January 21, 2013 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: A snowman complete with cigarette and coffee cup is viewed by a squirrel in St James's Park on January 21, 2013 in London, England. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Canada Geese fly from the snow covered banks of the River Trent on January 21, 2013 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: A woman walks on Birdcage Walk as snow falls on January 21, 2013 in London, England. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

    Models pose around a plastic palm tree in the snow in front of Tower Bridge in central London on January 21, 2013, during a 'pop-up beach resort' promotion on the day that many consider to be the most depressing day of the year. Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has schools closed and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

    A woman walks a dog through a snow covered Rose Garden at The Arno in Birkenhead, northwest England, on January 21, 2013. Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has left closed schools and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

    People walk a dog through a snow covered Arrowe Park in Birkenhead, northwest England, on January 21, 2013. Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has left closed schools and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

    A woman walks a dog through a snow covered Rose Garden at The Arno in Birkenhead, northwest England, on January 21, 2013. Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has left closed schools and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Canada Geese fly past the snow covered banks of the River Trent on January 21, 2013 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: A man walks on The Blue Bridge over the partially frozen lake in St James's Park on January 21, 2013 in London, England. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

    People walk a dog through a snow covered Arrowe Park in Birkenhead, northwest England, on January 21, 2013. Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has left closed schools and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

    Models in swimwear pose in the snow at a 'pop-up beach resort' promotion in front of Tower Bridge in central London on January 21, 2013. Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has schools closed and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Pigeons look for food in a snowy St James's Park on January 21, 2013 in London, England. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Heavy Snow Fall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Pigeons try to keep out of the snow by resting on a signpost in St James's Park on January 21, 2013 in London, England. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)