More transport woes for UK

2010-01-06 11:23
London - Britain braced for more transport chaos on Wednesday as heavy snow and freezing temperatures swept south, one day after gripping northern England and Scotland.

Blizzards hit northern parts of Britain on Tuesday, halting transport and major football fixtures, as well as closing airports and hundreds of schools.

Officials warned of "extreme weather" as the freezing conditions moved to central and southern parts of England, with as much as 40cm of snow forecast to fall overnight in some areas.

"This is expected to cause widespread disruption to the transport network and could lead to problems with power supplies," the Met Office said.

"The public are advised to take extreme care," the forecaster warned.

Snow forced Britain's second biggest airport, Gatwick, in London, to close, while flights at Luton airport, also in the capital, were suspended.

Birmingham and Southampton airports were shut, while staff at Manchester and Liverpool airports were working to return to normal after heavy snow forced their closure Tuesday.

Forecasters said areas of Hampshire, Oxfordshire, West Berkshire, Surrey and Buckinghamshire could see "exceptionally heavy snowfall" as storms moved south.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown posted a Twitter message saying: "As public services do all they can in this extreme weather, please look out for neighbours and relatives in need of assistance."

Brown earlier denied Britain was facing a gas supply crisis, after extra supplies were reportedly brought in from continental Europe to meet a 30% rise on normal seasonal use.

On Tuesday, heavy snow blocked roads, cancelled some train and bus services and triggered accidents in northwest England, forcing officials to advise against all but essential travel on roads.

The snow wiped out both League Cup semi-final first legs, with Wednesday's Manchester derby between City and United and Blackburn's match against visitors Aston Villa postponed.

In Scotland, where temperatures plunged to minus 15 degrees Celsius in places, flights were delayed, while train services were disrupted from Glasgow to Edinburgh and London.

Hundreds of schools were closed in Scotland, Wales and northern England as teachers struggled to get in to work and parents kept their children at home.

Stephen Davenport, senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup, said: "Should conditions continue in a similar vein then by March we might just be looking back at one of the coldest winters of the last 100 years."

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