Britain has been hit with travel chaos as the country endures cold and icy weather conditions – as forecasters warn milder conditions and the risk of flooding are just around the corner.
Last night temperatures nearly hit -10C in parts of the country, with Katesbridge in Northern Ireland and Sennybridge in Wales enduring a chill of -9.7C.
Almost seven inches of snow fell across parts of the UK overnight, with the village of Wittering in Cambridgeshire waking up to some 15cm, while 8cm fell in Coleshill, Warwickshire.
A yellow weather warning for ice persists across all of Northern Ireland and Wales, along with much of England, with a snow and ice warning for western Scotland – meaning roads and railways will likely be affected with longer journey times.
Northamptonshire Police have reported separate crashes on the snow-covered A14 – one involving a jack-knifed tanker truck – and are warning drivers to avoid going out if they can.
In High Wycombe, icy conditions on a steep main road has led to several crashes over the weekend, with one Mercedes seen ploughing through parked cars before sliding uncontrollably down the hill.
And in South Wales, a community helped dig out two ambulance crews and a paramedic trapped on a snowy street while they were trying to reach a care home. The nation saw its coldest night of the year so far as the temperature dropped to minus 9.7C at Sennybridge in Powys.
Highways England added that they were dealing with a ‘very high’ volume of incidents across the country, and urged people to only make journeys if they were essential and within government rules.
Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said it was the ‘snowiest spell’ the UK had experienced since late January 2019, when 20 weather stations in England recorded accumulations of 5cm or more for three days consecutively.
The Met Office said the weekend’s snowfall should remain on the ground through Monday, but by Wednesday temperatures across the south could have jumped back up to 10C or 12C.
Britain has been hit with travel chaos as the country endures cold and icy weather conditions. Pictured: Somerset Police come to the rescue of a motorist in Bridgwater, near, Taunton, who had fallen foul of severe wether conditions
The Derby West Response police account posted on Twitter: ‘Brrr a very cold first day shift back for group 4. We are out the station before the clock has even started making sure our cars are free of snow and fit for purpose. Make sure you all do the same and drive only if essential. Keep safe everyone’
Northants Road Police have shared two images of crash on the A14, warning drivers to stay at home if possible. ‘A14 remains incredibly treacherous this morning. With temperatures remaining low all day this is unlikely to improve quickly. The message remains the same “Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives”,’ they said in a tweet
Witnesses on the A14 in the East Midlands have reported ‘smashed up’ cars in ditches and shattered central crash barriers. Pictured: An abandoned 4×4 covered in police tape
A crashed car covered in police tape is abandoned on the side of a road in Newtown Linford, Leicestershire
Frost on the roads this morning in Manchester, January 25. Temperatures last night nearly hit -10C in parts of the country, with Katesbridge in Northern Ireland and Sennybridge in Wales enduring a chill of -9.7C
A frosty start to the day in Blackheath common, South East London this morning as cold weather hits the capital
Temperatures last night nearly hit -10C in parts of the country, with Katesbridge in Northern Ireland and Sennybridge in Wales enduring a chill of -9.7C. Pictured left: Minimum temperatures last night. Right: The weather this morning
In northern parts of Britain however temperatures have plunged so low at the coast children were pictured walking on the frozen sea.
Residents of Craster in Northumberland were stunned when they woke up to find dozens of sea-filled rock pools covered in a thick layer of ice.
Lois Pynn, 11, and her nine-year-old sister Addy were pictured exploring the wintery scene near Dunstanburgh Castle on Sunday (24/1) as temperatures hit -5C.
Dad Nathan, 42, said: ‘You know it’s a cold one when the sea actually freezes. A friend who has lived in the village for 25 years said he’d never known the sea to freeze here.
‘The ice was so thick my two girls were literally skating around on it. It was three or four inches thick in some places.’
Meanwhile, police in the East Midlands have warned of ‘incredibly treacherous’ roads after early-morning crashes on the A14 in Northamptonshire.
Witnesses on the road reported ‘smashed up’ cars in ditches, shattered central crash barriers and even a jack-knifed tanker lorry blocking off two lanes.
More lorries were left stranded on the A605 near Peterborough after losing their grip in the snow which turned to packed-down ice in -6C temperatures overnight.
A yellow weather warning for ice persists across all of Northern Ireland and Wales, along with much of England, with a snow and ice warning for western Scotland
Pictured: Snow covered homes in Horwich, Greater Manchester, are seen from the air at sunrise this morning
Dog walkers venture out into the snow covered landscape by a frozen lake on Wimbledon Common this morning after a night of sub zero temperatures following the first snowfall of the year
Grace, ten, and Evie Thomas, seven, enjoy sledging at Branford Hill Park, Brandhall, West Midlands
Sefton Park Palm House in Liverpool following snowfall on Sunday and overnight. The Met Office have said the weekend’s snow should remain on the ground through Monday, but the milder weather and the risk of flooding are just around the corner
But with milder weather set to return on Wednesday there will be a greater risk of flooding, with further problems possible in southern parts by the end of the week. Pictured: A flooded field next to the river Thames is frozen at Benson Lock in Oxfordshire
People enjoy the first rays of sunshine after yesterday’s snowfall in Richmond Park, south west London
Fire crews urge Britons to download app after rescuing a stuck-in-the-mud grandmother
People braving the ice and snow were urged to download a smartphone app today by fire crews who rescued a stuck-in-the-mud grandmother.
The teams from Wethersfield and Thaxted raced to Little Bardfield, Essex, where the OAP, in her 70s, was bogged down in a cold, muddy field.
Station manager Darren Driscoll said: ‘She was walking with her grandsons across fields when the boys, aged seven and nine, became stuck in the frozen quagmire.
‘She helped them out but then got stuck herself.
‘One of her legs was trapped up to the top of her thigh and she couldn’t move.’
She couldn’t give her exact location in her 999 mobile phone call.
Firefighters used the What3Words app and after ten minutes, found her a quarter of a mile from the road.
Helped by an inflatable sled and sand lance, which creates air pockets in the mud, they reached her with ladders and hauled her out.
What3words is a free smartphone app that helps people easily and accurately describe their location.
The app developers have broken the world down into trillions of three metre by three metre squares, each with a unique three-word address.
These three words can then be used to pinpoint locations more accurately.
Northants Highways tweeted: ‘Lorries are stuck having braked quickly on A605 near to the A14. We are there and have another gritter on way to assist.
‘All our precautionary routes have salt down and we are out now gritting the adverse routes.’
Northamptonshire Police posted pictures of cars crashed into the central reservation barrier and in ditches, although no major injuries have been reported.
They said: ‘The A14 remains incredibly treacherous on Monday morning and with temperatures remaining low all day this is unlikely to improve quickly.
‘The message remains the same ‘Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.’
‘If you do need to make that essential journey today, please take extra care on the roads. Even once the snow starts to melt, it will still leave lots of standing water.
Highways England, which manages the motorway and main road network through Northamptonshire, said: ‘We are dealing with a high volume of incidents across the region this morning. If you must make your essential journey, then please drive to the conditions.’
But with milder weather set to return on Wednesday there will be a greater risk of flooding, with further problems possible in southern parts by the end of the week.
Met Office meteorologist Simon Partridge said: ‘It’s a bit of a rollercoaster from cold and wintry conditions to wet and windy ones.
‘We are keeping an eye on rainfall totals because there are some areas that are very sensitive to rainfall and there is further possible flooding as we go through the second half of the week.’
The return of a warmer weather front will bring more anxiety to communities hit hard by Storm Christoph last week.
Heavy rain and 40mph winds are forecast for the south-west of England and Wales from Wednesday, with the bad weather moving east into Thursday.
‘Everywhere will likely see rain over the next week, as it moves west to east. Weather systems will pass over pretty much everywhere over the UK,’ a Met Office spokesman added.
‘With lots of the UK already saturated from the heavy rainfall we have seen last week, it doesn’t take much for it to tip the balance and provide another flood risk.’
Weather warnings for rain should be expected, he said.
A recent investigation by Greenpeace’s investigative arm Unearthed and the Guardian found many of flood defences across England could be in a state of disrepair following years of high rainfall.
Freedom of Information requests found 3,400 flood defence assets were deemed to be in a poor condition last year – 6% of all structures in England – by Environment Agency inspectors.
Many areas in northern, central England and Wales, particularly towns and villages along the River Severn, endured flooding last week.
According to the Guardian and Unearthed investigation, as many as one in 10 flood defences in these regions were in disrepair in 2019-20.
Heavy rain and 40mph winds are forecast for the south-west of England and Wales from Wednesday, with the bad weather moving east into Thursday. Pictured: Residents on a flooded street in Bewdley, Worcestershire, after the The River Severn burst its banks when flood defences failed due to rising water levels
Pictured: Part of the River Thames is frozen at Benson Lock in Oxfordshire.
A recent investigation by Greenpeace’s investigative arm Unearthed and the Guardian found many of flood defences across England could be in a state of disrepair following years of high rainfall
Residents of Bewdley in Worcestershire were hit by flooding for the third year in a row last week and residents have appealed directly to the Government for their defences to be upgraded.
The Environment Agency said, over the last year, repairs had been prioritised in areas at greatest risk.
A spokesman said: ‘We maintain approximately 78,000 flood assets across England, 95% of which are in good condition and repairs prioritised where there is significant threat to lives and livelihoods.
‘Our 2020 recovery programme inspected over 20,000 assets and, supported by a £120 million government investment, all of our assets are winter ready either through repairs or, where these have not been completed, robust contingency plans are in place.’
It said in areas where repairs were unfinished, it had deployed temporary barriers, and also had 250 high volume pumps available, 6,500 trained staff and a network of trained contractors.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘We know how flooding can devastate communities, which is why since 2015 a record figure of £2.6 billion has been invested in flood schemes, better protecting 300,000 homes, and over the next six years we are doubling that investment – £5.2 billion for 2,000 new defences to better protect a further 336,000 properties.’