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Snow disrupts travel as cold and icy spell persists

Thousands are still without power and cars marooned by thick snow in Cumbria, with more warnings ahead.

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A rescue operation is under way to reunite drivers with their vehicles abandoned in heavy snow and restore electricity to 2,000 homes in Cumbria.

The Met Office estimates as much as 30cm of snow fell, trapping people in cars and forcing them to spend the night in temporary accommodation.

Further north, the coldest night since March was recorded in Scotland with the temperature dropping to -12.5C (9.5F)

More weather warnings for snow and ice come into force on Sunday evening.

A Met Office yellow warning for ice across much of northern England, the Midlands and northern Wales is in place until midday on Monday.

This means difficult travel conditions are likely, as well as icy patches on roads and pavements.

In eastern Scotland, a yellow warning for snow and ice will be in place at the same time.

On Monday, heavy rain is forecast across parts of southern England and south-east Wales.

The Met Office has a yellow warning in place for possible flooded homes and businesses and travel disruption from midnight until 18:00 GMT.

In Cumbria, police declared a “major incident” on Saturday evening after thick snow caused about 7,000 homes and businesses to lose power and made roads unpassable.

Drivers were forced to abandon their cars to seek warm places to spend the night.

Emma Thompson, from Ulverston, slept in a scout hut in Hawkshead after she became stranded on her way home from manning a chilli jam stall at the local Christmas fair.

“By 16:00 I was up to my knees (in snow),” she told BBC News.

The 54-year-old slept in a dormitory with 10 other women, while others stayed in the local church and school.

Mrs Thompson praised residents, who brought them tea, coffee and blankets. The vicar offered them soup, and a fish and chip shop provided food.

Meteorologist Tom Morgan estimated 20 to 30cm of snow fell in southern Cumbria but cautioned these were not official measurements.

Electricity North West (ENWL) said its network had been severely impacted but indicated it had restored power to nearly 5,000 customers on Sunday.

BBC Weather’s Paul Goddard said Cumbria was not likely to see any more disruptive snow over the next few days, after a change in wind direction.

Image source, Emma Thompson

Image source, PA Media

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Elsewhere, Ant Brett, from Essex, travelled to Cumbria for a family wedding but the conditions meant he was travelling for 19 hours.

He told the BBC he became stuck on Saturday afternoon while waiting on the A595.

“I was heading up to a family wedding – it’s fair to say I didn’t make it. The cars here haven’t had any water or food supplies.”

Image source, Lillian Berry

Image source, Anna MacMahon

Image source, Owen Humphreys

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said it worked through Saturday night to rescue people from cars trapped in deep snow.

Highways teams spent Sunday clearing and treating main routes through the county and advised drivers picking up abandoned cars to only use these routes on their journeys.

Cumbria police urged people to only travel if necessary and warned that black ice might become a risk in some areas.

Image source, PA Media

Image source, Jason Haine

Image source, Danny Lawson

Overnight on Saturday, the Met Office said Altnaharra, in the Highland region of northern Scotland, saw the coldest recorded temperature so far this winter at-12.5C.

Temperatures overnight on Sunday were not expected to be as cold as Saturday night, BBC Weather’s Paul Goddard said.

He added that colder-than-average temperatures would remain for the first half of the week, but by Thursday it could be wetter and windier but more mild, with a possible 13C in south-west England.

Separately, an amber health alert for cold weather, issued by the UK Health Security Agency, is in place until Tuesday for five central and northern regions in England. A yellow warning is in place for four other regions, including London and southern and eastern England.

The agency warned: “Cold weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service for an extended period of time, with potential for the whole population to be at risk.”

Heavy snow has also been causing disruption across Europe this weekend.

Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic have been hit by train and flight cancellations.

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