Big freeze conditions easing but more snow on way for region

BRITAIN'S big freeze is expected to ease in coming days but not before more snow hits the region.

Forecasters issued another severe weather warning amid predictions of up to four inches of snow in parts of Yorkshire overnight and today before it turns to rain.

Milder weather is expected in coming days before there is a return to more overnight frosts.

Travel disruption caused by Arctic weather in the UK has now eased but flights to and from the east coast of the United States are being severely disrupted by a snow storm.

States of emergency have been declared between the Carolinas and Maine after more than a foot of snow fell. Train and bus travel in the eastern states has been brought to a standstill.

Heathrow Airport said flights were now mostly back to normal after last week's chaos, except for passengers travelling to the eastern states who were facing long delays and cancellations. British Airways said most flights to and from Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington were cancelled or delayed.

The improvement yesterday did not come in time for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which became the latest victim of the weather, forcing it to suspend all services.

A revised timetable will be in operation today on the route between Pickering and Grosmont after vital water supplies for the steam locomotives and carriages froze.

General manager Philip Benham said: "The weather conditions are particularly harsh this year and despite all our efforts it is the continued sub-zero temperatures that are taking their toll."

Yesterday hundreds of hunt supporters braved the wintry weather to attend festive meets but numbers were well down on previous gatherings.

Senior joint master of the Holderness Hunt William Bethell turned out on a snowy Beverley Westwood for a canter with a dozen other riders but the ice and snow made it impossible to hunt.

A new survey commissioned by the Countryside Alliance claimed to show six out of 10 people believe the Hunting Act is a waste of police time.

Only 33 per cent of people thought the ban on hunting and the need to police hunts was a good use of police resources, with 62 per cent disagreeing.

Jill Grieve, from the Countryside Alliance, said clarification was needed on a "farcical" situation.

She said: "The people going out on horseback and the people who are involved, who think they are acting within the law, are under fear of finding themselves locked up in a police cell and are under threat of prosecution every time they go to work."

Weather forecasters said snow was likely to be a problem early today in Yorkshire before turning to sleet and rain as milder weather moved in from the south.

Around two inches of snow was expected widely but as much as four inches could fall in the North York Moors and in the Dales.

Temperatures would rise during the day to a maximum of around 5C (41F), leading to a further thaw.

But a spokesman for the Meteo Group of forecasters said the respite from freezing temperatures was expected to be brief with frost returning on Thursday night although there was no prospect of a return at present to the Arctic temperatures of recent weeks.

Musicians may miss parade

Hundreds of musicians scheduled to perform at the 25th New Year's Day parade in London face a race against time to fly to the UK after they were grounded by blizzards in the United States.

Around 1,000 American musicians and cheerleaders had their flights cancelled for Saturday's parade.

Parade director Bob Bone said: "These performers have been saving for at least two years to make the trip and we are imploring the airlines to realise that they are not here for a holiday – but to live their dreams and entertain the world."