As the country struggles in the icy grip of the now infamous ‘Beast from the East’, small acts of kindness are providing welcome shards of light amid the frigid gloom.
Hundreds of drivers found themselves stranded overnight on Scotland’s M80 motorway after heavy snow blanketed the area. It is the first red alert for snow in Scotland since a new warning system came into place in 2011.
With traffic stationary, many were forced to spend up to 13 hours in their vehicles, cold, hungry and no doubt fearful as the snow continued to pile up.
But for many, these fears were allayed by big-hearted local individuals and groups who took it upon themselves to trudge through the deluge and deliver drinks and snacks to the stranded.
One tweet which has since gone viral came from Rachel Muircroft, who revealed: “Been stuck on this bus on the motorway for 3.5 hours in the snow chaos. A guy who lives nearby just came on handing out water and snacks donated by his local shop. What a guy! That’s the Scotland way!”
Caroline McDermott tweeted her thanks to the “amazing local midnight angels and heroes” who brought juice and snacks to vehicles that had been stranded in the snow for more than eight hours.
Another tale of salvation came from Robyn Duncan, who tweeted: “My faith in humanity has been restored, my dad has been stuck near Glasgow in his car for almost 15 hours with no food, nothing. Locals braved the weather and walked down the motorway giving people food and water.”
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said on Thursday: “The travel advice in the affected areas today could not be clearer – do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
“Even after the red warning is lifted, large parts of Scotland will still be subject to high-level amber weather warnings for snow. This should not be under-estimated. An amber warning means there is a real possibility that vehicles and drivers will become stranded – something that we have already seen happen during this period of snow.”
Away from the motorways, Peter Barron reported: “Just spoken to my mum on Teeside: ‘Are you OK?’ I asked. ‘Yes, I’ve cleared my path and delivered the papers to the old people down the street.’ She’s 86.”
Meanwhile NHS workers across the country have also been pitching in to make an extra effort to ensure they can treat their patients, with some even sleeping at their hospitals over night.
Staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital were praised by the public after sleeping over to make their shifts the next day, while the lead nurse from Fife hospital, Sally O’Brien, tweeted: “13 nurses stayed overnight at Stratheden hospital & now working early shift @nhsfife @FifeHSCP @nickyconnorfife #severeweatherheroes.”
Dr Asma Anwar tweeted: “Salute to the NICU staff Queen Elizabeth University Hospital 4 staying for the night after a 12 hr day shift to cover 4 those who couldn’t make it to work due to the weather.I have no words to appreciate & thank u all hats off a BIG THANK U.”
Friends and loved ones of NHS staff also took to Twitter to describe the efforts of the nurses, doctors and staff in their families.
Christopher Kiltie wrote on Twitter: “Girlfriend off to work with extra uniforms & toiletries so she can work through the night/sleep there incase hospital staff can’t get in due to the weather, so that patients still get the care they need. Nurses/NHS workers are a different breed.”
And Lucy Oliver tweeted: “So much respect for the NHS this evening. My neighbours, both doctors, are choosing to leave their kids at home with friends to sleep at the hospital & cover colleagues who are affected by snow. They aren’t obliged, they just care, how lucky are we?!”
Temperatures plunged to a widespread low of between minus 6C (21F) and minus 4C (25F) overnight, and forecasters have warned it could feel as chilly as minus 11C (52F) during the day as the winds continue to strengthen.
Gusts of up to 60mph could also bring “blizzard-like conditions”.
As well as the red alert – which has never before been issued for Scotland, England or Northern Ireland – amber warnings have also been issued for the north-east of England and the central belt of Scotland, in place between 10am and 8pm on Thursday, and for south west England and south Wales from 12pm until 8am on Friday.
On top of these, yellow snow warnings have been issued for vast swathes of southern, central, and northern England, Northern Ireland and Wales – in place for most of Thursday.
Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said some parts of the south west could see up to 50cm of snow by Friday morning.
“If you don’t have to go anywhere over the next few days, stay at home,” he warned.
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