Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Britain struggles as snow takes grip

London and the south-east of England was finally hit by snow on Tuesday and with it came the usual chaos for a country seemingly unable to cope with wintry conditions. Scotland and the north of England has been suffering for several days with temperatures plunging way below zero. Snow has been measured at 50 cm in parts of Scotland and up to a metre deep in the north of England. London and the south-east of England saw only 10 cm of snow, but many roads came to a virtual standstill and rail and airports were severely affected. 

As the snow fell in London news coverage of the inclement weather increased. The weather became the top story on BBC and Sky News as well as local news programmes and radio stations. Commuters attempting to get to work on Tuesday morning found themselves trapped in hours of traffic. There were accidents across London and the home counties but most were only minor incidents. The biggest problems were seen overnight as up to 400 lorries became stranded on the M25 in Surrey for more than 12 hours. The railway network also suffered later in the day with services being severely disrupted or cancelled altogether. In Kent in the south-east of England three trains became stranded and passengers had to be rescued. Travellers faced long delays at many of Britain's airports. Many flights were delayed on Tuesday and Edinburgh and Gatwick airports both shut-down altogether on Wednesday.

There were some enjoying the snow however. With more than 1,500 schools shut in Scotland and around 2,400 others closed in England, many children were out in parks tobogganing, building snowmen or enjoying snow-ball fights.

The novelty may wear off however as low temperatures continue. Scotland is forecast to see temperatures as low as -25°C though London will be less cold with highs of 1°C. More snow is predicted for for many parts of England tonight [Wednesday], particularly in London and the south-east. As the temperatures drop many roads will be extremely hazardous and drivers have been advised to to venture out unless absolutely necessary. The Dartford tunnel, which joins the M25 between Kent and Essex was shut on Wednesday for several hours due to ice and long tailbacks stretched back several kilometres. Accidents and jack-knifed lorries compounded problems on the northern Essex stretch into Kent with drivers facing several hours' delay. 

There have been reports of power outages as snow brought down power cables in the Maldon area in Essex affecting at least 500 homes. The bad weather is affecting business too. Hotel cancellations, cancelled restaurant bookings and emptied shopping centres is taking its toll for many small businesses. The picturesque scenes across the country may please the children and photographers, but it is doing little for Britain's economy.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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