- Red snow warning issued for Scotland - up to 40cm could fall
- ScotRail urges commuters in red area to ‘go home now’
- First Glasgow bus services suspended after 3pm
- Glasgow Airport suspends all inbound and outbound flights
- Dozens of schools in Scotland remain closed
- Red alerts also issued for parts of Ireland
- Disruption across all Greater Anglia routes, with some lines closed
- TfL Rail warns customers to complete journeys as early as possible
- c2c Rail warns whole network is subjects to delays and cancellations
- All lines operating on Southeastern Rail apart from Bromley North
- Some delays on London Underground
- RAC endures busiest day in 10 years with 9,500 breakdowns
- Flights cancelled as airports warn of ongoing delays
- Some hospitals cancel non-urgent appointments and operations
- Temperatures could plummet to -15 by midweek
- PHE warns people to stock up on food and essential supplies
Commuters are facing major travel disruption this evening after severe weather throughout the day sent temperatures plummeting amid heavy snow.
Red, amber and yellow snow and ice warnings are in place across vast swathes of the UK, with delays and road closures occurring. The red warning - the highest level - has been issued for central Scotland with up to 40cm of snow expected.
Trains and planes were also affected, with travellers being urged to check for the most up-to-date information before setting off on their journeys.
Police and fire services across the UK reported having to rescue stranded vehicles and deal with crashes as several more centimetres of snow fell in some parts. Temperatures plummeted again overnight, with Benson in Oxfordshire recording a low of -10C.
Public Health England’s Dr Thomas Waite said: “With more cold and for some snow on the way, now is the time to think ahead. Consider what you need to stock up on. Do you need food or essential supplies such as medicines? It may be harder for some people to get out later this week when more snow arrives, so if you know someone at risk, someone with heart or lung conditions, young children or someone who is over 65, please take the time to check and see if there’s anything they need.”
Dozens of schools in Scotland will remain closed on Wednesday, including all schools in East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, Fife, Stirling and Fulbrick.
An amber weather warning is in place for much of the rest of Scotland, with police advising people not to travel. All three of Wednesday’s Ladbrokes Premiership games have been postponed because of heavy snowfall, the Scottish Professional Football League announced.
The red warning has been issued for Central, Tayside and Fife, South West Scotland, Lothian Borders and Strathclyde from between 3pm on Wednesday and 10am on Thursday.
ScotRail urged commuters in the red warning area to head home immediately and First Glasgow suspended all bus services throughout the city from 3pm.
The Met Office definition of a red warning is that “you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely. You must avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities”.
It said: “Heavy snow showers and drifting of lying snow in the strong easterly winds will become more widespread across the area later on Wednesday afternoon, through the evening and overnight into Thursday. Roads will become blocked by deep snow, with many stranded vehicles and passengers. Long delays and cancellations on bus, rail and air travel are expected. Some communities could become cut off for several days. Long interruptions to power supplies and other services.”
After weather officials issued a red alert for parts of the country, Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: “We are facing an extraordinary weather event. I have instructed all of the machinery of the State to work together to keep people safe. Be prepared in your homes, look out for vulnerable neighbours & avoid unneccesary travel in red areas.”
Also in Ireland, after the National Emergency Coordination Group met in Dublin to advise and plan for potential blizzards, its senior official Sean Hogan described the combined weather systems forecast for Thursday and Friday as bringing “life-threatening conditions”.
“We are asking people to heed the advice,” he said.
Met Eireann, the Republic’s forecasting agency, is warning of heavy snowfalls starting in the southern counties of Ireland from about 4pm on Thursday with conditions worsened by winds of more than 100 km/h.
It is expected that the mercury could plummet to minus -15C by midweek where there is snow on the ground, rivalling temperatures forecast for parts of northern Norway and Iceland.
A number of hospitals have cancelled non-urgent appointments due to the adverse weather. Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Grimsby Hospital, Scunthorpe General Hospital and Goole Hospital, cancelled all elective care today, including outpatient appointments.
And Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent has also postponed some non-urgent planned operations and outpatient appointments.
The National Emergency Pressures Panel (NEPP) warned the NHS “should be ready for continued pressure as a result of this cold snap”, with a rise in hospital attendance and admissions likely, NHS England said.
Chairman Sir Bruce Keogh said: “The panel wants to thank all NHS colleagues for their continued hard work and dedication in the face of a ‘perfect storm’ of appalling weather, flu and norovirus.
“With the severe conditions expected to continue we ask patients and their families to bear with us as we seek to minimise any disruption.”
In Gillingham, Kent, the Chatham Ski and Snowboard Centre was forced to close due to “weather conditions.” It said on its Facebook page: “Centre currently closed as we have an inaccessible car park and we have to be able to have emergency vehicle access and staff are struggling to get to site.”
By midday, the Met Office had extended its yellow weather warning for snow until 9am on Saturday.
From Thursday, forecasters predict that another weather system, Storm Emma, will bring blizzards, gales and sleet as it meets the chilly “Beast from the East” later this week.
The storm, named by the Portuguese Met Service, will move north through Europe and is due to hit the UK on Thursday and Friday, and will be “significantly disruptive”, bringing the risk of power cuts and transport delays.
Several major routes across the country have been left impassable following heavy snowfall overnight, forcing police to close large sections. In Yorkshire, the A61 has been shut between Harrogate and Skipton, while further north, in Durham, the A66 was closed between the A1M and A685.
The A1 in Durham was also closed between Scotch Corner and Catterick after a lorry jack-knifed.
Highways England said the A1 in Cambridgeshire had to be shut due to severe weather, between the A1M and A6121 at Tinwell.
In Norfolk, police also reported roads being blocked due to lorries and cars becoming stuck in the snow, including the A11 southbound at Wymondham and the A143 at Haddiscoe.
The RAC faced its busiest day in 10 years on Tuesday with around 9,500 breakdowns. This was more than a 30% increase with the normal number of call outs and Wednesday is expected to be even busier, a spokesman said.
National Rail has warned of further disruption to services on Wednesday.
TfL Rail, London Overground, c2c, Southeastern, Greater Anglia, Southern and South Western Railway all warned of the potential for cancellations or delays to services, which may continue into Friday.
Virgin Trains said the route between Carlisle and Scotland is closed with no trains or bus replacement services running. Alternative rail routes between England and Scotland are also “severely disrupted.”
Delays are occurring on Southern and Thamelink and the Gatwick Express was running a reduced service by Wednesday afternoon.
Greater Anglia faced a backlash from customers on Tuesday after cancelling scores of trains despite relatively light snowfall. On Wednesday the train operator said that due to the severe weather, services running across the whole network will be cancelled, delayed or revised. Passengers were advised to check with before travelling.
Great Northern was expecting to run a normal service, weather permitting.
Isle of Man Transport tweeted that all services were currently suspended.
The London Underground is experiencing delays and some suspended services due to the severe weather.
Some flights have been cancelled from Heathrow, including a number of British Airways services. The airline said the weather was likely to continue disrupting flights throughout the week and that those for later on in the week are “under regular review.”
London City Airport also said there would be some disruption to services, while Newcastle Airport said there could be some delays while the runway was cleared of snow.
Gatwick Airport said overnight that flights were arriving and departing as usual, but recommended passengers check with their airline ahead of travelling.
East Midlands Airport said it was fully operational, but that it would be monitoring weather updates throughout the day.
In a tweet this morning, Glasgow Airport said all services would be suspended until 1pm as the runways were cleared.
Shortly after the deadline, it confirmed the runway had reopened but that a number of airlines had cancelled a large number of flights, advising passengers to check with their specific airlines for flight information before travelling to the airport. However by 3pm the airport announced all incoming and outgoing flights had been cancelled.