Winter blasts back to bring more road, school and airport chaos

HEAVY snow and sleet hit parts of Yorkshire yesterday forcing Leeds Bradford airport to close for a while and creating treacherous driving conditions on major routes.

Flights were delayed as the runway was cleared, but the airport reopened at 4.15pm. Passengers were warned however of further possible delays and advised to contact airlines before travelling.

Elsewhere, police described the M1 in South Yorkshire as hazardous, while there were also delays for drivers on the A61 and A628 Woodhead Pass.

The icy blast also forced more than 30 schools in Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees, Halifax and Leeds to close.

West Yorkshire Police said the weather affected both main and minor roads and urged drivers to be cautious.

However, Wales saw the worst of the snow on Thursday night, with as much two inches settling in some areas, especially over higher ground.

The wintry showers then spread north and east from Wales and the Midlands to northern England.

One forecaster said: "Wales have had the worst of the snow so far but it's heading northwards. It's gradually turning to rain in the south as milder conditions come in."

More than 30 schools across Wales were closed as several inches of snow fell on high ground. Some flights were cancelled at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport.

Temperatures are varied but last night milder conditions appeared to be on the way, with southern England hitting 10C-11C.

In northern England, however, the mercury was unlikely to go much above freezing.

Parts of Scotland were braced for more snow showers last night, with heavy downpours set to continue into the weekend. Forecasters predicted areas north of the border would see snow, with as much as four inches over higher ground.

Drivers across Scotland and Northern Ireland were warned to expect icy road conditions following overnight rain, sleet and snow.

The Met Office issued severe weather warnings of heavy snow for several regions, including the Highlands, Grampian, Strathclyde, Central, Tayside and Fife, plus south west Scotland, Lothian and Borders.

The AA reported a busy day for breakdowns yesterday with calls up 70 per cent. Its "snow-busting" Land Rovers worked alongside the regular patrol force to rescue 89 cars, with the busiest areas reported in Leeds, Bradford, Aberdeen and other areas of north east Scotland.

Darron Burness, the AA's head of special Operations, said: "Although it hasn't been as busy as it was during the previous cold snap when breakdowns doubled most days, the adverse weather has caused problems for drivers across most areas. Even in areas that have escaped the heavy snow and sleet, patrols have reported very difficult driving conditions due to torrential downpours."