100 drivers trapped in North Yorkshire as Arctic weather sweeps back in

ICY temperatures and further snowfall are expected to hit the region again today ahead of a brief thaw later in the week – before more Arctic weather sweeps in.

Scotland's Transport Minister was forced to apologise yesterday after hundreds of motorists were left stranded in their cars for more than 15 hours.

Temperatures barely rose above freezing again yesterday as the River Ouse froze over in York and fresh snow showers across eastern parts of Yorkshire caused further travel chaos, with the A171 between Scarborough and Whitby closed last night after a number of vehicles became stranded.

Large parts of East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire were forecast to be hit by fresh snow last night, with up to 15cms (six inches) in some areas.

More than 100 vehicles were trapped on an exposed route in North Yorkshire when a sudden heavy snow shower came in.

The A171 between Whitby and Scarborough had to be closed temporarily when snow fell on ice, making driving extremely hazardous, North Yorkshire Police said.

Officers working with the Highways Agency and other agencies responded from around 4.30pm when more than 100 drivers reported they were stuck.

A spokesman said: "As a result of this the road was reopened and all vehicles trapped were released and were able to drive along the A171 and complete their journeys."

There was chaos yesterday evening as Northern Rail cancelled trains between Leeds, Bradford and Ilkley, after earlier advising that they would run. Throngs of passengers crammed on to platforms at Shipley to try to get on to connecting services, many of which were also cancelled.

Scotland continued to experience the worst of the weather, with a long stretch of the M8 motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh still closed and expected to be closed today nearly 48 hours after the first motorists became stranded in some of the worst gridlock conditions in living memory.

Pensioners Stewart and Kathleen Hendrie were stuck on the motorway for 17 hours as temperatures plummeted to minus 14C. At least 170 cars were abandoned.

Mrs Hendrie, 66, said: "The hunger we could deal with, but the worst thing was the intense cold."

Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson faced heavy criticism from opponents after admitting the authorities had been ill-prepared for the severity of the weather, which he described as the "worst snow and ice conditions since the 1960s".

Mr Stevenson blamed inaccurate weather forecasts and described how snow plough blades had shattered as they attempted to shift the ice from major roads.

He said: "We had weather greater than we were ready for. We're facing temperatures so low that salt is no longer working.

"We continue to make very substantial efforts, but I'm sorry it will take time before we're back to anything approaching normal."

In Yorkshire, an inquest into the death of a driver who was hit by another vehicle after he stopped to help a stranded motorist was opened and adjourned.

The man was named by police as 57-year-old Paul Clarkson, from East Appleton, near Richmond.

They said Mr Clarkson was standing behind his Land Rover when he was struck by another vehicle. He had stopped to help to recover a Vauxhall Corsa from a ditch at Bellerby Bank, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, when the accident happened on December 2.

Road conditions are expected to remain dangerous in many areas today, with the AA revealing it dealt with more than 230,000 call-outs since the first widespread snowfall on November 24 – a 93 per cent increase on the same period last year.

While temperatures are expected to rise briefly towards the end of the week, a fresh wave of Arctic conditions are expected to follow.

Concerns have been raised about the icy state of pavements around the region. Hospitals in Goole, Scunthorpe and Grimsby said they had admitted nearly 450 patients injured after falling in the icy conditions between Friday and Monday alone.

But there was happier news for a little girl from Sheffield, whose birthday celebrations were saved with a phone call from a pop star.

Rosie Biggin's sixth birthday was in danger of being ruined as 18 inches of snow piled up outside the family home at Totley.

A meal out had to be cancelled, and cards and presents failed to arrive. But her dad James came to the rescue by sending out a Twitter message appealing for a call from any of Rosie's favourite pop stars.

He wrote on the online messaging site: "Six year old's birthday cards haven't arrived. Meal out cancelled, party on Sunday cd be cancelled – Could a pop star call my daughter at 5pm?"

An hour later Rosie was left speechless when singer Pixie Lott phoned to wish her happy birthday and to invite her to a concert in Sheffield.