SCHOOLS were shut and transport was disrupted as any hopes of spring were dashed by yet another onslaught of snow and flooding today.
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Emergency services saw an early surge in weather-related call-outs as some parts of the country were hit by blizzard conditions as forecasters warned this month could be the coldest March in 50 years. Government agencies issued a string of warnings urging the public to take care on the roads.
More flooding was expected in the south west as yesterday’s heavy rain continued.
Higher areas could even see up to 16 inches, while bitterly cold gale-force winds create blizzard-like conditions and plunge temperatures down to well below freezing.
Leeds Bradford International Airport suspended all flights due to “adverse weather conditions”.
The airport told passengers: “We advise you to contact your airline or tour operator and check the status of your flight before arriving at the airport.”
Heavy overnight snow also caused severe traffic problems and school closures across West Yorkshire.
Leeds City Council highways maintenance manager Russell Martin said gritters were encountering drifting snow in parts of east Leeds.
Among the main roads affected in the region were the A1(M) between the end of the M1 and the A62 junction, between Leeds and York, where snow closed a lane, and the M62 near Brighouse, where another lane was closed due to the weather.
Schools affected in Leeds included: Bankside Primary, Brodetsky Primary, Fieldhead Carr Primary, Greenhill Primary, Grimes Dyke Primary, Hawksworth C of E Primary, Hawksworth Wood Primary, Hugh Gaitskell Primary, John Smeaton Community College, Parklands Primary, Queensway Primary, Ralph Thoresby High, Seacroft Grange Primary, Seven Hills Primary, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, Pudsey, Swarcliffe Primary, Westgate Primary, Whinmoor St Paul’s C of E Primary, Yeadon Westfield Infant and Yeadon Westfield Junior.
Sheffield schools affected included Beck Primary School, Deepcar St John’s Church of England Junior School, Dore Primary School,
Grenoside Community Primary School, Norfolk Park Primary School, Royd Nursery & Infants, Woolley Wood School, Handsworth Grange Community Sports College, Henry Fanshaw - Dronfield, Heritage Park Community School, Holgate Meadows Community Special School, King Ecgbert School
King Edward VII School, Seven Hills Special School and Talbot Specialist School.
A number of schools were also closed across the Bradford, Huddersfield and Rotherham areas while in Derbyshire, dozens of schools, colleges and nurseries were closed as were several roads, mainly in the north of the county. Many schools in Nottinghamshire also closed their doors.
There was also widespread disruption on the buses, with Calderdale and Kirklees particularly badly hit.
A signalling problem at Ilkley train station added to the problems for commuters, with services facing delays of up to 20 minutes.
Roads hardest hit by the weather included the A61 Harrogate Road between Moortown and Harewood as well as the A659 Bradford Road in Otley.
Hazardous driving conditons were also reported on the M1 between Flushdyke and Parlington, and on the M62 between Chain Bar and Lofthouse.
The Woodhead Pass on the A628 in the Peak District was closed in both directions between the A57 roundabout in Mottram and the A616 roundabout at Flouch.
The M62 and A66 trans-Pennine routes are currently open.
Events across West Yorkshire have been cancelled this weekend because of the weather.
With more snow expected on Saturday and Sunday, the decision was taken to call off a number of events today. (Friday)
Tonight’s Super League clash between Wakefield and Leeds Rhinos has been postponed until Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 3.30pm.
A Rhinos spokesman said: “Wakefield have taken the decision following the snowfall and with the forecast of more to come later today. All tickets purchased for tonight’s game are still valid for Sunday’s game. If you have purchased your tickets from the Leeds Rhinos ticket office and can not make Sunday’s re-arranged game, please contact the Headingley Carnegie ticket office and you must return your unused ticket for a full refund.
“Fans travelling with the official coach can still do so on Sunday, the coach will now depart from Car Park F on St Michael’s Lane at 1.30pm.”
Saturday’s scheduled U19 fixture between the two sides has also been postponed with a date to be arranged for this U19 fixtures.
Saturday’s Players Reunion at Headingley Carnegie has also been postponed and will now take place next Saturday, March 30, with the same timings.
Age UK’s Harewood House Wrap Up & Run 10k event, scheduled for 10am this Sunday has been postponed.
Paul Farthing, Director of Fundraising at Age UK, said: “We are really disappointed to have to cancel this weekend’s event, however the safety of participants is absolutely paramount. We are aiming to reschedule the race for next month and we will announce the new date early next week. We are sorry for any disappointment caused and we really appreciate the understanding and cooperation of participants.”
Participants should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 169 8787 for more information or go to www.ageuk.org.uk/10k for updates on the event.
The British Heart Foundation Heart Walk in Leeds, scheduled to take place on Saturday has also been postponed.
Fundraising Volunteer Manager for the BHF, Sue Green, says: “We were really looking forward to the Heart Walks taking place, but it is with regret that we have to postpone this event.”
“The health and safety of our participants is our paramount concern and the expected conditions would make it impossible for us to guarantee the safety of the event’s participants. We have therefore taken the decision to postpone the walk on this occasion, we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Organisers are contacting all participants and a re-scheduled date for the Heart Walk will be announced on the BHF website.
And all sports pitches managed by the council have also been taken out of action.
A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Due to the current ground conditions and the forecasts for continued snow, all Leeds City Council-managed sports pitches will be unavailable for use this weekend.”
James Wilby, a forecaster for Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said there was no prospect of any immediate let up.
He said “The heavy rain, snow and strong winds will continue into the weekend, with the heavy snow spreading south to East Anglia and Bristol tomorrow.
“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 issued a number of severe weather warnings urging the public to be prepared for “severe disruption” to transport and energy services.
The Environment Agency has 18 flood alerts in place along the south west coast warning of flooding, with a further 80 alerts issued to areas at risk.
Between 1.6 to 2.4 inches is set to fall over southern Devon and Cornwall today, and up to 4 inches on exposed southern slopes.
Last night Cornwall Council set up a designated control room to handle calls.
Spokesman Dave Owens said the county’s fire and rescue service received more 50 calls, and eight properties had flooded.
Environment Agency spokesman Ben Johnstone said: “We strongly urge people to sign up to flood warnings on the Environment Agency website, keep a close eye on local weather forecasts and be prepared for possible flooding.
“We also ask that people stay safe and not try to wade or drive through any deep water.”
The AA issued warnings to motorists that even short journeys could be difficult, and there could be a repeat of the scenes in southern England last week when hundreds of 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.”
The Local Government Association said council gritting and ploughing teams were out in force to try to ensure main roads remained passable.
Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said hundreds of thousands of tonnes of salt had been spread this winter, but hundreds of thousands more tonnes were available in council depots and new deliveries were coming in.
And he 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.”
But he also urged residents with elderly or vulnerable family or neighbours to check in on them to make sure they were coping with the latest freeze.