Flights face snow disruption
Britain faces another day of travel disruption today as heavy snow that blankets much of the country turns to ice.
Hundreds of passengers were left stranded yesterday as airports across the UK suspended flights, and motorists struggled through blizzards along treacherous roads. Heathrow Airport said that although its runways were open there had been 100 cancellations so far - 67 departing and 33 arriving - due largely to displaced aircraft and crews.
The severe weather is hampering the efforts of Leinster fans trying to get to Exeter. A number of flights carrying Irish fans were delayed or cancelled yesterday, or were rerouted from Bristol airport to Gatwick for a four-hour train ride.
Two British Airways flights from Dublin, scheduled to depart at 8.45am and 10.40am, have been cancelled. There are no reports of disruption of flights from Cork.
Although the ERC have kept a close eye on all their match venues over the weekend, the expectations are that all games will proceed as scheduled.
British Airways has apologised to people trapped on planes in appalling weather at Heathrow airport as they waited for a slot to take off, and hundreds of others had flights cancelled. More than 400 flights were cancelled at the airport, and hundreds of people spent the night on the floor as they waited for flights to be rescheduled.
There were angry scenes at Heathrow today as travellers had to sleep on the floor for a second day. Frustrated passengers claimed they were not given enough information.
Tempers frayed in Terminal 5, with accusations of queue-jumping in the lengthy lines.
Steve Greenwood, from Yorkshire, who was travelling to Seoul with his wife, shouted at a group of passengers, saying they “just push in where they want”.
Mr Greenwood was one of a number of passengers hitting out at British Airways, adding: “BA stands for bloody awful.”
BA and the airport insisted they were doing everything they could in difficult circumstances.
The arctic blasts forced nearly 2,000 schools to shut their doors, meaning some sixth-form and college students had their A-level exams postponed.
But the weather heaped misery on more than 10,000 households in South Wales, where residents found themselves with no power yesterday morning.
There are warnings of further misery today. Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “With the snow compacting down and turning icy, we’re likely to see treacherous driving conditions throughout the weekend.
“Any fresh snow on top will just add to the problems.” The Met Office is forecasting less snow, but has issued yellow warnings for ice over much of the country. The Highways Agency said its fleet of snow ploughs and gritters will continue to be out in force across the weekend to ensure roads are passable.
This morning the M48 Severn Bridge was closed in both directions between junctions one and two because of hazardous conditions.
Rail travellers experienced upheaval yesterday as operators scrapped services.
South West Trains will run an amended timetable today as a precaution against the heavy snowfall, while the Eurostar will run with speed restrictions until tomorrow because of snow and ice in the UK and northern France. Two services have also been cancelled.
Snow fell across much of the UK yesterday, with South Wales experiencing the worst of the weather, forcing the Met Office to issue a “red” severe weather warning.
Sennybridge in Powys had 25cm of snow, while many other places across the UK saw between 5cm and 10cm.
Further snow fell overnight in the Midlands and London, while Suffolk and Essex had up to 4cm, Paul Mott, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said.
Heavy snow showers are expected to develop across parts of northern England and eastern parts of Scotland, with up to 4in (10cm) falling locally over the North York Moors.
Temperatures are likely to remain low - down to about -3C, and ice is expected to form on any untreated roads.