Black ice Monday: UK weather chaos leaves thousands stranded

Snow and icy conditions halt travel services, shut schools and leave homes without power

British Airways Heathrow
British Airways planes wait on the snowy runway at Heathrow
(Image credit: Twitter)

Wintry conditions have caused chaos across the UK as heavy snow results in flight and train delays, icy roads and school closures, and leaves thousands of homes without power.

At least 50,000 passengers were stranded at Heathrow Airport yesterday, after “torrential overnight rain meant that de-icing could not begin until the first wave of planes were ready to go”, reports The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder.

British Airways cancelled a further 70 short-haul round trips today, along with nine long-haul flights including departures to Rio De Janeiro, Tokyo and Los Angeles. That’s in addition to more than 140 outbound short-haul flights and 26 long-haul BA departures cancelled from Heathrow on Sunday. Delays and cancellations were also expected at Birmingham Airport.

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Meanwhile, hundreds of schools across England and Wales were closed today as the wintry conditions persist. The Government has set up a postcode finder for parents to check if their child’s school is still open.

“Efforts have continued overnight to reconnect power to thousands of homes cut off after snow and high winds affected supplies,” adds the BBC.

Almost 3,000 customers of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks spent a night without electricity, “but the company has restored power to 48,000 households”, says The Guardian. The worst-hit areas were Oxfordshire, where 800 homes are without power, Wiltshire and parts of Berkshire.

Temperatures have fallen to lows of -1C in built-up areas, and to -10C in more rural areas. A Met Office yellow severe weather warning for ice remained in place for large parts of the UK until about 11am. A yellow warning means that you should “plan ahead thinking about possible travel delays, or the disruption of your day to day activities”.

In Calais, hundreds of Eurotunnel passengers faced a series of delays on services to the UK yesterday. The shuttle service operator said the wait was five hours, but some social media users claimed to have waited much longer. Eurotunnel says services are back to normal today, although weather conditions remain “very challenging”.

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Motorists are “being warned of havoc on the roads”, says The Guardian, as snow turns to black ice after the weekend’s wintry blast. Pete Williams, the RAC’s road safety spokesman, said the motorists’ service was expecting 11,000 breakdowns on Monday, 20% above the seasonal norm.

“I think the big thing is people are not going to leave enough time,” he said. “Journeys will take two to three times longer. It’s going to be treacherous driving conditions.”

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