UK

UK Weather: Winter Storms Sweep The Country As Forecasters Say It's The Coldest March For 50 Years

23/03/2013 08:48 GMT | Updated 23/03/2013 12:30 GMT

Heavy snowfall across many parts of the UK has caused disruption to communities and the nation's transport network today - with warnings of more wintry weather to come.

The severe weather has brought down power lines, leaving thousands of homes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and areas of northern England without electricity.

Airports have been forced to close their runways, with road closures hitting motorists.

About 70 people stranded in their cars in Cumbria overnight were put up in a local high school. In North Wales, the British Red Cross was brought in to help transport medical staff to hospitals in 4x4s after roads became impassable.

More than two inches of snow is expected to cover parts of England, Scotland and Wales from London northwards, with heavy showers and sleet hitting the south-east.

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This gritting lorry had to be pulled from a ditch in Stirlingshire

While the south-west is expected to be spared the heavy downpours and flash flooding it suffered on Friday, more than 90 flood risk alerts are still in place.

A landslide and floodwater in Cornwall, thought to have been triggered by torrential rain, smashed through a block of flats partially collapsing the building.

Last night emergency crews and specialist investigators found a woman's body after picking through debris at the Veronica flats in Looe.

The body is believed to be that of Susan Norman, who is in her 60s and police said was unaccounted for, having not been heard from since returning to the flat on Thursday night.

More than a dozen residents in Sandplace Road were evacuated after most of the building's front-facing wall crumbled away, with debris and mud crashing on to the back of the property from the road behind it.

Last night Electricity North West said about 1,500 properties in Cumbria remained without power but repair work was being held back by road closures, preventing access to some communities.

The company was considering using a helicopter to transport engineers to the areas which were unable to be restored.

Chris Hogan, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division for the Press Association, said: "The worst of this severe

weather was yesterday, although there is still some significant snow fall to come.

"London will mark the border of rain and snow, with everywhere north looking at a covering of snow and around six cms (two inches) in the Midlands, Wales, north England and southern Scotland.

"Higher areas could see more than 10cms (four inches).

"But the rain will move across to the south-east today where it will be persistent but not as heavy as yesterday in the south-west.

"Temperatures will stay around freezing, but will feel much colder because of the bitter winds.

"The winter weather will gradually ease throughout today and tomorrow though there is no sign of any warmer weather coming through yet."

Another weather expert warned this month could be the coldest March in 50 years, dashing any hopes of spring.

Forecaster John Lee of MeteoGroup said the average temperature expected for central England at this time of year is 6C (42.8F), but so far this month the average is 2.2 degrees below that - at 3.8C (38.8F).

That is significantly colder than last March, when averages were 8.3C (46.9F) - 2.3 degrees above the expected average.

"Comparing it to similar winters, it's provisionally going to be the coldest March in 50 years, although that can't be confirmed until we reach the end of the month," Mr Lee said.

He referred to 1962 - when average temperatures were even colder, at 2.8C (37F), adding: "That will take some beating.

"But the way we are going it looks like we are heading towards being the coldest March since then."

On Friday several hundred schools were closed in the north following the dumping of snow.