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Fair use for educational/research purposes only Heavy Snow Across UK Causes Travel Chaos
Thursday, December 28, 2000
LONDON (Reuters) - Britons were told to stay at home on Thursday and enjoy the rest of the Christmas holiday period as plunging temperatures and snow clogged roads and closed airport runways.
Police and motoring organizations described driving conditions as "treacherous" after a band of snow moving eastwards overnight dumped a white blanket across much of Britain.
The Meteorological Office said it was the most widespread snowfall to hit the country since February 1994, and has warned that the icy weather is set to continue into Friday.
Thousands of air travelers' journeys were delayed as snowbound runways grounded aircraft and prevented inbound flights from landing.
"A band of snow has pushed across England and Wales during the night and given one or two inches of snow in most places," a spokesman for the Met Office told Reuters.
The heaviest snowfall in mainland Britain was in western Scotland, where up to a foot of snow fell in some places, and across the hills of mid-Wales which saw 5-6 inches during the night.
Birmingham saw four inches of snow, Manchester 3.5 inches and central London, which seldom sees a white carpet on the ground, woke up to a light dusting.
Luton Airport, north of London, was closed due to snow on the runway for much of the day, as was Glasgow Airport, where up to a foot of snow drifted across the runway. East Midlands airport was also shut until midday.
The snow restricted morning flights out of London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and there was also severe disruption to flights in and out of Birmingham, Belfast, Leeds and Bradford.
A spokesman for AA Roadwatch said its message to drivers had been "try and enjoy the rest of Christmas and don't go out unless it's absolutely necessary."
By mid-afternoon the situation had eased with major routes cleared of snow, but falling temperatures as night approached were expected to cause black ice on many roads.
Much of Northern Ireland, where wintry weather closed in on Wednesday, was under 5-6 inches of snow.
The coldest overnight temperature was recorded in Northern Ireland where the mercury fell as low as -13 celsius.
The province is in for more arctic misery after tumbling temperatures and freezing fog struck as darkness fell late on Thursday.
"I think that most places will get down to -7 Celsius and a lot of places will be between that and -13," a Met Office spokesman told Reuters. "It is pretty severe."
Shops closed early in Belfast to ensure staff got home safely. Transport services were disrupted. Road gritting trucks were kept busy.
"Driving conditions across Northern Ireland are becoming dangerous with a combination of extensive ice and dense patches of freezing fog," the Met Office said in a statement.
"Drivers should use extreme caution. Conditions will remain dangerous overnight and through Friday morning."
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), December 28, 2000