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Snow and rain cause havoc in UK

A snow plough22/03/13

By Will Roberts

Snow and flooding across much of the UK has quashed to any hopes that spring was on its way.

Up to eight inches of snow is expected to fall in some parts of north west England, north Wales and south west Scotland, while some of the higher areas could see up to 16 inches.

Meanwhile the south west of England was hit by heavy rain which brought with it flooding.

Schools have been shut and emergency services reported an early surge in weather-related call-outs as blizzards and freezing winds battered the country. Motorists have been warned to take care on the roads if travelling, with many covered in snow, ice or water.

Leeds Bradford International Airport suspended all its flights while heavy snow between Thursday and Friday also caused severe traffic problems and school closures across West Yorkshire.

Snow closed a lane on the A1(M) between between Leeds and York, and on the M62 near Brighouse.

James Wilby, a forecaster for Meteogroup, admitted the cold weather wasn't showing any signs of changing.

"The heavy rain, snow and strong winds will continue into the weekend, with the heavy snow spreading south to East Anglia and Bristol tomorrow," he said.

"And I'm sorry to say that there is no sign of things getting any better next week, it's going to remain cold and bleak."

The Met Office said people should expect "severe disruption" to transport and energy services while the Environment Agency has put out 18 flood alerts along the south west coast, with a further 80 alerts issued to areas at risk.

Devon and Cornwall will see the worst of the rain today, with between 1.6 to 2.4 inches set to fall, with up to 4 inches on exposed southern slopes.

The AA warned that even the shortest journeys could see delays, and didn't rule out a repeat of the scenes in southern England last week when many drivers were stranded in their cars overnight.

Darron Burness, the AA's head of special operations, said: "It's going to be a real witch's brew of driving wind, rain and snow, which will inevitably cause disruption on the roads.

"Drivers should be well prepared as even short journeys can quickly turn bad."

Local authorities are tackling the icy winds with gritting and ploughing teams covering the major routes. According to the Local Government Association, thousands of tonnes of salt had been spread this winter but there is plenty more available in depots with new deliveries scheduled in the coming days.

Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said: "Council staff will be out and about over the next few days checking in on the people they know to be vulnerable and delivering hot meals and portable heaters, collecting prescriptions, defrosting pipes, fixing frozen boilers and making sure they have what they need."

Mr Box said people who had elderly or vulnerable family or neighbours should check in on them to make sure they were prepared for the cold weather and snow.

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