Going SNOW where: Gridlocked drivers are trapped on blizzard-hit A1

Heavy snowfall was causing chaos on the roads today as cars overturned and motorways ground to a halt in the wintry weather.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for snow and ice for most of the UK, sparing only parts of Scotland.  

Britons were warned to remain cautious when venturing out into the hazardous conditions brought by the cold snap. 

Icy surfaces were already wreaking havoc on the roads this morning and police in Derbyshire used an image of an upturned car to warn other drivers to be careful behind the wheel.

The A1 in County Durham has been brought to a standstill with motorists enduring hour-long tailbacks because of problems caused during the snow, including a stalled truck.

And in Harrogate, Yorkshire, cars and pedestrians were seen braving blizzard-like conditions as the snow bucketed down upon them.

Yet morning dog walkers embraced the wintry weather and trudged through the thick snow which settled as temperatures plunged to as low as -6C. 

A romantic image saw the Angel Of The North statue, in Gateshead, looming over acres of land covered in snow, as children armed with sledges visited the iconic hilltop landmark.

It comes amid warnings that the memorable Beast from the East, which caused chaos across the country in 2018 and forced school closures, could return. 

COUNTY DURHAM: The A1 in County Durham has been brought to a standstill with motorists enduring hour-long tailbacks because of problems caused during the snow, including a stalled truck

An HGV lorry lies overturned on the A68 in Otterburn, Northumberland, this morning, where conditions were snowy

An HGV lorry lies overturned on the A68 in Otterburn, Northumberland, this morning, where conditions were snowy

An HGV lorry lies overturned on the A68 in Otterburn, Northumberland, this morning, where conditions were snowy

HARROGATE: In Harrogate, Yorkshire, cars and pedestrians were seen braving blizzard-like conditions as the snow pelted down upon them

HARROGATE: In Harrogate, Yorkshire, cars and pedestrians were seen braving blizzard-like conditions as the snow pelted down upon them

HARROGATE: In Harrogate, Yorkshire, cars and pedestrians were seen braving blizzard-like conditions as the snow pelted down upon them

DERBYSHIRE: Police share image of overturned cars where motorists have fallen foul to the icy road conditions

DERBYSHIRE: Police share image of overturned cars where motorists have fallen foul to the icy road conditions

DERBYSHIRE: Police share image of overturned cars where motorists have fallen foul to the icy road conditions

GATESHEAD: A romantic image saw a frosted-tipped Angel Of The North, in Gateshead, looming over acres of land covered in snow

GATESHEAD: A romantic image saw a frosted-tipped Angel Of The North, in Gateshead, looming over acres of land covered in snow

GATESHEAD: A romantic image saw a frosted-tipped Angel Of The North, in Gateshead, looming over acres of land covered in snow

WARWICK: Morning dog walkers embraced the wintry weather and trudged through thick snowfall which settled as temperatures plunged to as low as -6C

WARWICK: Morning dog walkers embraced the wintry weather and trudged through thick snowfall which settled as temperatures plunged to as low as -6C

WARWICK: Morning dog walkers embraced the wintry weather and trudged through thick snowfall which settled as temperatures plunged to as low as -6C

SHEFFIELD: A salt spreader drives down the road in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

SHEFFIELD: A salt spreader drives down the road in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

SHEFFIELD: A salt spreader drives down the road in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

Blizzard-like conditions in Harrogate, Yorkshire, where the snow showed no sign of relenting this morning

Blizzard-like conditions in Harrogate, Yorkshire, where the snow showed no sign of relenting this morning

Blizzard-like conditions in Harrogate, Yorkshire, where the snow showed no sign of relenting this morning

In the early hours the Met Office revised its forecast and spared only the South East and parts of western Scotland from the yellow weather warnings

Police cars stuck in snow after rescuing ‘stupid motorist’ 

Motorist who broke down in Moel Famau

Motorist who broke down in Moel Famau

Motorist who broke down in Moel Famau

Two police cars got stuck in heavy snow while trying to rescue a ‘stupid’ motorist who skidded off the road after breaking lockdown rules by travelling to a North Wales peak.

Police said the driver made the 20-mile journey from Ellesmere Port to Moel Famau Country Park, which straddles Flintshire and Denbighshire, amid heavy snowfall and temperatures as low as -1. 

Officers said the traveller ignored the closure of the road and lost control of the car after skidding on ice, which caused the vehicle to veer off the road.

North Wales Police officers braved the freezing conditions to rescue the driver but got stuck in the heavy snow.

The frustrated officers were left with no choice but to call out a local volunteer rescue group to assist them.

North Wales Police Rural Crime Team tweeted: ‘We have two vehicles on scene trying to assist but the weather is  atrocious meaning both police vehicles are stuck.

‘It has caused us major issues. Freezing conditions, putting my officers at risk in many ways and not just the cold.’ 

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Temperatures will struggle to climb beyond 5C and north of the border will plunge to as low as -6C as forecasters urged to ‘wrap up warm and take care if you have to step outside’.

Fog patches are also expected for parts of the South, while outbreaks of sleet and snow have been forecast for the Midlands and parts of the North. 

After another freezing night with national temperatures ranging from -6C to just 3C, Saturday will usher in sunnier spells with no weather warnings – although it will still be very chilly.

Thick cloud across northwest Scotland will sink southwards during the day across much of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England, bringing a chance of light rain which may be wintry at times.

Although all of the UK is under strict ‘stay at home’ orders – with exceptions such as for essential work – to stem the spread of coronavirus, drivers were warned to be careful on the roads.

Gritters, snow ploughs and salt-spreaders were on the roads early this morning to try to make the tarmac as safe as possible. 

Drivers in the North East were told to only take to the roads if absolutely necessary as the weather caused huge logjams.

Highways England tweeted: ‘We are currently monitoring heavy snowfall which is causing disruption in the area of County Durham.  Traffic officers and gritters are out patrolling the area. With delays reaching 60 mins on the A1M southbound we are advising drivers to only travel if essential.’

In nearby Otterburn, Northumberland, a lorry skid rounf a tight bend and crashed through the barriers.

It is pictured coming to a rest tilted slightly to one side on a steep bank, while part its front damaged. 

Thames Valley Police, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, said: ‘Please take extra care when driving this morning as some roads could be icy. If you’re driving this morning, please fully de-ice your car windows, adapt your driving to the conditions, keep well back from vehicles in front, and leave extra time for travel.’ 

Surrey Police warned that just because the roads have been gritted it ‘does not ensure that they are entirely ice free! Drive safely and be aware that black ice on roads is possible.’ 

In North Wales, the police themselves had to be rescued after trying to rescue a ‘stupid’ motorist who skidded off the road before getting stuck themselves.

Police said the driver made the 20-mile journey from Ellesmere Port to Moel Famau Country Park, which straddles Flintshire and Denbighshire, amid heavy snowfall and temperatures as low as -1. 

Officers said the traveller ignored the closure of the road and lost control of the car after skidding on ice, which caused the vehicle to veer off the road. 

The frustrated officers were left with no choice but to call out a local volunteer rescue group to assist them.

North Wales Police Rural Crime Team tweeted: ‘We have two vehicles on scene trying to assist but the weather is  atrocious meaning both police vehicles are stuck.

‘It has caused us major issues. Freezing conditions, putting my officers at risk in many ways and not just the cold.’  

In Otterburn, Northumberland, a lorry appears to have skid and crashed through the barriers. It is pictured coming to a rest tilted slightly to one side on a steep bank, while part its front has been damaged

In Otterburn, Northumberland, a lorry appears to have skid and crashed through the barriers. It is pictured coming to a rest tilted slightly to one side on a steep bank, while part its front has been damaged

In Otterburn, Northumberland, a lorry appears to have skid and crashed through the barriers. It is pictured coming to a rest tilted slightly to one side on a steep bank, while part its front has been damaged

People get out of their cars to see what is going on on the A1 Motorway in County Durham is currently grid locked with traffic queuing for miles as more heavy snow dumps down on the North East region

People get out of their cars to see what is going on on the A1 Motorway in County Durham is currently grid locked with traffic queuing for miles as more heavy snow dumps down on the North East region

People get out of their cars to see what is going on on the A1 Motorway in County Durham is currently grid locked with traffic queuing for miles as more heavy snow dumps down on the North East region

Children armed with sledges visited the iconic hilltop landmark, The Angel Of The North

Children armed with sledges visited the iconic hilltop landmark, The Angel Of The North

Children armed with sledges visited the iconic hilltop landmark, The Angel Of The North

A runner braves the chilly weather and goes for a jog through snow-covered St Nicholas Park in Warwick

A runner braves the chilly weather and goes for a jog through snow-covered St Nicholas Park in Warwick

A runner braves the chilly weather and goes for a jog through snow-covered St Nicholas Park in Warwick

Frost and snow covers the Forth and Clyde Canal near Kelpies in Falkirk, Central Scotland, this morning

Frost and snow covers the Forth and Clyde Canal near Kelpies in Falkirk, Central Scotland, this morning

Frost and snow covers the Forth and Clyde Canal near Kelpies in Falkirk, Central Scotland, this morning

Drivers in the North East were told to only take to the roads if absolutely necessary as the weather caused huge logjams

Drivers in the North East were told to only take to the roads if absolutely necessary as the weather caused huge logjams

Drivers in the North East were told to only take to the roads if absolutely necessary as the weather caused huge logjams

A salt spreader drives down the road in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

A salt spreader drives down the road in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

A salt spreader drives down the road in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

What was the Beast from the East?

The Beast from the East was the name given to the freezing winds that came to Britain at the end of February 2018 from Siberia, which were caused by the jump in temperatures over the Arctic. 

The cold spell saw temperatures in parts of Britain drop as low as -10C and brought snow to much of the country. The weather was so cold in Brecon Beacons national park that an entire waterfall froze solid.

Sixteen people died in winter-related deaths, including a seven-year-old girl from Loos, Cornwall, who was hit by a car that slid on ice. 

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Lorry drivers working throughout the night this morning warned others taking to the roads this morning to be cautious amid icy conditions. 

One Somerset-based distribution company tweeted a picture of snow falling on one of their vehicles, saying: ‘Another cold night with patches of snow across the country! Go careful on the road.’ 

North East traffic cameras showed heavy snowfall with the roads blanketed with the white stuff.  

The same conditions that brought snow storms three years ago are forming again high up in the atmosphere. 

The ‘sudden stratospheric warming’ (SSW) event happens when the temperature in the stratosphere soars by 50C (122F). This ‘reverses’ Britain’s wind pattern, from the warmer west out in the Atlantic to the east – and Siberia.

It can take two weeks for the effects of a SSW to be felt. This was the case in February 2018 with the infamous Beast from the East, which saw much of the UK gripped by travel chaos and school closures amid heavy snow.

The cold spell saw temperatures in parts of Britain drop as low as -10C and brought snow to much of the country. The weather was so cold in Brecon Beacons national park that an entire waterfall froze solid.

Sixteen people died in winter-related deaths, including a seven-year-old girl from Loos, Cornwall, who was hit by a car that slid on ice. 

Dr Richard Hall, an expert in SSWs from the University of Bristol, said it ‘loads the dice’ or ‘tips the odds’ in favour of another blast of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures from Siberia. 

A study by experts at the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath shows how dramatic meteorological changes above the North Pole can have severe consequences for the weather in the UK. 

Gritters, snow ploughs and salt-spreaders were on the roads early this morning to try to make the tarmac as safe as possible

Gritters, snow ploughs and salt-spreaders were on the roads early this morning to try to make the tarmac as safe as possible

Gritters, snow ploughs and salt-spreaders were on the roads early this morning to try to make the tarmac as safe as possible 

A view of a frozen over Lochan na Achlaise in Glen Coe, Scotland as freezing temperatures continue

A view of a frozen over Lochan na Achlaise in Glen Coe, Scotland as freezing temperatures continue

A view of a frozen over Lochan na Achlaise in Glen Coe, Scotland as freezing temperatures continue 

Snow falls over the countyside in Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire, this morning as large swathes of the UK awoke to cold conditions

Snow falls over the countyside in Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire, this morning as large swathes of the UK awoke to cold conditions

Snow falls over the countyside in Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire, this morning as large swathes of the UK awoke to cold conditions

Dawn breaks over a snow-blanketed field in the Cotswolds as most of Britain wakes to snow and ice weather warnings

Dawn breaks over a snow-blanketed field in the Cotswolds as most of Britain wakes to snow and ice weather warnings

Dawn breaks over a snow-blanketed field in the Cotswolds as most of Britain wakes to snow and ice weather warnings

Drivers on the road early this morning had to contend with snowfall and icy conditions in Birmingham

Drivers on the road early this morning had to contend with snowfall and icy conditions in Birmingham

Drivers on the road early this morning had to contend with snowfall and icy conditions in Birmingham

Dog walkers brave the elements this morning following snowfall across Gasteshead and other parts of the North East

Dog walkers brave the elements this morning following snowfall across Gasteshead and other parts of the North East

 Dog walkers brave the elements this morning following snowfall across Gasteshead and other parts of the North East

A motorist attempts to clear snow from his car window in Gateshead this morning

A motorist attempts to clear snow from his car window in Gateshead this morning

A motorist attempts to clear snow from his car window in Gateshead this morning

What is Sudden Stratospheric Warming? 

Severe conditions that hit Britain in February 2018 were described by the Met Office as a ‘cocktail of weather events’.

The cold spell dubbed the ‘the Beast from the East’ – which also coincided with the arrival of Storm Emma – was caused by a jump in temperatures high over the Arctic, known by meteorologists as ‘sudden stratospheric warming’.

The phenomenon, which in Britain usually leads to cold periods, begins 30km (18 miles) into the atmosphere in the high altitude jet stream, which usually flows from west to east, bringing relatively warm and wet air from the Atlantic into the UK.

A disturbance hits the jet stream, pushing its waves down towards the Arctic and reversing the stream from east to west. As the air is compressed over this region, it begins to warm.

This leads to high pressure over the North Atlantic, blocking the usual flow of mild air that flows into Britain from the west.

Instead, colder air from the east is sucked over the British Isles, resulting in colder temperatures.

 

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During an SSW the stratosphere – the layer six to 31 miles above the Earth’s surface – can increase in temperature by up to 50C over a matter of days.

This disturbance can travel down through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface and cause shifts in the jet stream, the fast-moving air currents that cool Europe.

UK experts studied 40 stratospheric warming episodes from the last six decades in the latest study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Dr Hall said an SSW happens ‘every two years in three’ and one is ‘taking place at the moment’. 

In 2018 there was an SSW event two weeks before the ‘Beast from the East’ brought 50cm (20in) snowfalls. 

However Dr Hall said only two thirds of SSWs reach the surface and the current one could ‘just peter out’.

He added: ‘The main area of impact is over Siberia where you get intense cold and that then extends westwards toward Europe. 

‘We are right on the edge of this and so slight variations can affect if it reaches us.’ 

The phenomenon, which in Britain usually leads to cold periods, begins 30km (18 miles) into the atmosphere in the high altitude jet stream, which usually flows from west to east, bringing relatively warm and wet air from the Atlantic into the UK. 

A disturbance hits the jet stream, pushing its waves down towards the Arctic and reversing the stream from east to west. As the air is compressed over this region, it begins to warm.

This leads to high pressure over the North Atlantic, blocking the usual flow of mild air that flows into Britain from the west.

Instead, colder air from the east is sucked over the British Isles, resulting in colder temperatures. 

People make their way through the snow-covered St Nicholas' Park, in Warwick

People make their way through the snow-covered St Nicholas' Park, in Warwick

People make their way through the snow-covered St Nicholas’ Park, in Warwick

Snow blankets the hills in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

Snow blankets the hills in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

Snow blankets the hills in Midhopestones, in the borough of Sheffield

Although all of the UK is under strict 'stay at home' orders - with exceptions such as for essential work - to stem the spread of coronavirus, drivers were warned to be careful on the roads (North East pictured)

Although all of the UK is under strict 'stay at home' orders - with exceptions such as for essential work - to stem the spread of coronavirus, drivers were warned to be careful on the roads (North East pictured)

Although all of the UK is under strict ‘stay at home’ orders – with exceptions such as for essential work – to stem the spread of coronavirus, drivers were warned to be careful on the roads (North East pictured)

Outbreaks of sleet and snow have been forecast for the Midlands and parts of the North (North East pictured)

Outbreaks of sleet and snow have been forecast for the Midlands and parts of the North (North East pictured)

Outbreaks of sleet and snow have been forecast for the Midlands and parts of the North (North East pictured)

Snow falls in Birmingham this morning as a cyclist carefully navigates his way through slippery conditions

Snow falls in Birmingham this morning as a cyclist carefully navigates his way through slippery conditions

Snow falls in Birmingham this morning as a cyclist carefully navigates his way through slippery conditions

Temperatures will struggle to climb beyond 5C and in north of the border will plunge to -6C this morning as forecasters urged to 'wrap up warm and take care if you have to step outside' (Bradford pictured)

Temperatures will struggle to climb beyond 5C and in north of the border will plunge to -6C this morning as forecasters urged to 'wrap up warm and take care if you have to step outside' (Bradford pictured)

Temperatures will struggle to climb beyond 5C and in north of the border will plunge to -6C this morning as forecasters urged to ‘wrap up warm and take care if you have to step outside’ (Bradford pictured)

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