01/02/2019 21:23 GMT

Snow And Ice Weekend Warnings As Bitter Weather Blasts Britain

February began with the coldest night for seven years.

PA Ready News UK

Hazardous ice and further snow flurries are forecast as freezing weather keeps a firm grip on Britain.

Travellers were hit by long delays and schools closed their doors as February began with the coldest night for seven years.

A coating of up to 14cm of snow caused havoc in the South West, forcing motorists to abandon their cars and seek shelter as traffic stood still.

By Friday evening, RAF Odiham in Hampshire had recorded 19cm of snow.

There were long delays on the M3 westbound between junctions six and seven near Basingstoke due to snow and stranded vehicles, with the tailbacks stretching to Farnborough.

One lane has now opened, Highways England said, but it urged travellers to delay their journeys or find alternative routes.

Most flights were cancelled from a snow-covered Bristol Airport on Friday, but normal service is expected on Saturday.

Flight disruption at airports in Cardiff and Bristol left queues of rugby fans facing a race to get to Paris ahead of Friday evening’s France vs Wales Six Nations opener.

Ex-Wales captain and BBC pundit Sam Warburton was one of the passengers due to fly on the cancelled 9.30am flight from Cardiff Airport to Charles de Gaulle, while fan Leon Brown’s axed flight forced him to put his two game tickets up for sale.

Salt-spreaders covered 80,000 miles of England’s motorways and major A roads through the night to keep traffic moving, Highways England said.

More snow is forecast going into the weekend, and though it is unlikely to be as heavy, there is a danger of untreated, treacherous ice covering paths and roads.

A fresh yellow warning for snow and ice covering large areas of the UK took effect from noon on Friday until the same time on Saturday.

It covers northern Scotland, most of Northern Ireland, the eastern coast of England and the west coast of Wales.

A separate warning for ice is in place for the southern counties between 1pm on Friday and 11am on Saturday.

Conditions will be largely bright and cold through Saturday but a widespread hard frost and freezing fog are forecast for the early hours of Sunday.

PA Ready News UK
A tractor with a snow plough clears the snow on the B3081 near to Shaftesbury in Dorset 

Elsewhere on Friday, a landslip at a village in Cornwall blocked off vehicle access to around 30 homes and kept other cars trapped inside a cul-de-sac.

Around 1,000 tonnes of hillside collapsed on to the narrow Scrations Lane, in the village of Lostwithiel, but no-one was injured and no property damaged, Cornwall Council said.

More than 100 people who left their cars on the A30 to seek shelter at a pub in Cornwall were told to pick up their vehicles “as soon as possible” by Highways England.

Councillor Geoff Brown, who handles transport at Cornwall Council, said “the actions of a few impacted on many” after abandoned cars blocked emergency services, delaying the clear-up.

Authorities asked motorists to completely clear their vehicles of snow and Wiltshire and Thames Valley police forces advised drivers to travel only if absolutely necessary.

One driver claimed he “could see perfectly well” after his car, with its side windows completely encased in snow, was stopped in High Wycombe, police added.

Meanwhile, images posted online showed firefighters working with shovels to clear a route out of their stations.

Thousands of schoolchildren were enjoying an extended weekend as hundreds of schools closed their doors on Thursday and Friday.

Friday’s closures included more than half of Bristol’s schools, more than 300 in Buckinghamshire, more than 150 in Cornwall and scores across Oxfordshire.

On the rail network, passengers were urged to check before they travel in case the conditions impact services and some Eurostar services were cancelled on Friday.

Transport for London also advised passengers to check their service status before setting off.

The Met Office said a low of minus 15.4C (4.3F) was recorded just before midnight on Thursday at Braemar in the Scottish Highlands.

Had it fallen more than 0.2C (0.4F) lower it would have surpassed the low of minus 15.6C (3.92F) set in 2012.