More than 1ft of snow is expected to fall in blizzards in Pennine areas of Yorkshire which have been worst hit by the unseasonal weather alongside other parts of the North, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, prompting predictions it could be the coldest March for 50 years.
Southern parts of Britain were lashed by torrential rain yesterday. Heavy downpours in Cornwall are believed to have claimed the life of a woman in her 60s when a landslide tore through her home.
Rescue crews retrieved a body from the debris of a block of flats in Looe at around 6pm last night which was believed to be that of Susan Norman, who police said was unaccounted for after the block’s other residents were evacuated.
Heavy snow blanketing Yorkshire caused more than 400 school closures and widespread travel disruption.
A number of flights were grounded at Leeds Bradford Airport after wintry weather closed the runway, with passengers facing cancellations and delays of up to four hours.
Scores of bus services were suspended or diverted, particularly in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale.
And drivers faced treacherous conditions which forced a number of road closures, including Snake Pass and Woodhead Pass through the Peak District.
Other major routes affected included the A6024 Woodhead Road at Holme Moss; A635 Greenfield Road at Holmfirth; A62 Manchester Road at Marsden; A640 New Hey Road at Buckstones and A58 Halifax Road at Ripponden.
Snow also shut lanes on the A1(M) between Leeds and York and the M62 near Brighouse.
In Cumbria, a number of motorists became trapped in snowdrifts as roads became impassable and even snowploughs became stuck. Last night around 1,500 homes were without power and repair work was being hampered by road closures. Electricity North West said it was considering using a helicopter to transport engineers.
In Scotland, 10,000 people in Argyll were left without power including the whole of the island of Arran, while some 200,000 were cut off in Northern Ireland at one stage.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said council gritting and ploughing teams had been out in force to try to ensure main roads remained passable.
LGA chairman and Wakefield Council leader Peter Box said hundreds of thousands of tonnes of salt had been spread this winter, but council depots were well-stocked and new deliveries were coming in.
“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,” he added.
Tens of thousands of homes across the region are also facing disruption to their bin collections, with normal services expected to resume next week.
Twelve months ago, Yorkshire was basking in a heatwave as temperatures soared above 20C.
But MeteoGroup forecaster John Lee said this March could be the coldest since 1962. “Comparing it to similar winters, it’s provisionally going to be the coldest March in 50 years, although that can’t be confirmed until the end of the month,” he said.
A number of events due to take place across Yorkshire this weekend have been cancelled such as the Reflections arts festival in City Park, Bradford, today and Epilepsy Action’s 10k run in the city tomorrow.
Katie Stocks, of the charity, said: “We are very disappointed that the run will not go ahead but the safety of our runners, volunteers and spectators must be our first priority.”
The race is now expected to go ahead on Sunday, April 28.