Gradual thaw on the way after coldest start to March on record but ice continues to cause treacherous conditions
Major weekend events, including concerts and sporting fixture, cancelled due to weather
Flood warnings issued for southern coastal areas
Travel clear-up continues as weather warnings remain
Hundreds of motorists stranded overnight in freezing temperatures and train passengers trapped on board for hours without food or heating
Army drafted in after two police forces declare ‘major incidents’
Five people are so far known to have died due to adverse weather
Icy roads continue to cause treacherous driving conditions across the UK, but a gradual thaw is due to see temperatures climb slightly.
After the coldest start to March on record, the extreme conditions were set to ease over the weekend, with the mercury rising to as high as 7C in parts of Wales and the South West and snow set to be replaced by rain.
Major weekend events were cancelled due to the weather, including concerts and sporting fixtures, while Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light opened its doors to the homeless and vulnerable.
The severe weather left hundreds stranded on the roads and disruption across the UK’s travel network, with the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ claiming several lives, including a seven-year-old girl.
Overnight on Friday, frustrated rail passengers in south-east London took matters into their own hands by forcing train doors open and walking along the tracks after a London train was delayed by a trespasser.
Overnight, the M62 in Greater Manchester finally reopened after being closed for more than a day, with hundreds of motorists trapped in their cars on Thursday night.
The ice-cold weather saw collisions across the country and the Army was drafted in as part of a major rescue operation to reach motorists trapped on roads by heavy snow and icy blasts.
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On Friday, police in Dublin said on Friday they had made several arrests after a supermarket was reportedly looted after the city was hit with its worst snowstorm in decades.
The big transport clear-up was underway on Saturday, with some flights and trains still affected but much of the country’s travel network starting to return to normal.
Cars queue on the the M62 motorway in the snow (PA Images)
But despite a reprieve in the icy blast, forecasters have warned that as rain begins to fall on snow-covered roads, the potential for ice to form could bring further hazards.
While yellow weather warnings for ice were in place for much of England, snow was still expected in Scotland and the North East.
Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst said: “It won’t feel quite as cold compared to what we’ve seen previously, but the potential for ice could mean roads are very slippery.”
Flood warnings were also issued in several coastal regions by the Environment Agency, which published 15 warnings and 36 alerts, predominantly for South West and North East England.
Freezing rain that is ‘more dangerous than snow’ and sheet ice added to the widespread disruption, with train companies advising people not to travel if possible and drivers urged to cancel journeys.
Crippled road networks
Two police forces declared “major incidents” in response to the widespread disruption, turning to the military for help with rescues and to provide assistance to hospitals and medics.
Hampshire Police said they had called in the military to help evacuate people from the A31, while Avon and Somerset Constabulary said about 100 vehicles had become stuck on the A303 at Ilminster.
Cars were pictured strewn across the road on the A303 – where drivers reported being stuck for 17 hours – with queues stretching back miles. At one point on Friday evening, up to 100 cars were left stranded.
Dozens of volunteers battled through snow to take supplies to those stranded with drivers left trapped in their cars for several hours after heavy snowfall.
A senior police officer has warned that too many drivers are ignoring pleas to stay off roads hit by severe weather.
It's still really icy out there! This is one of our gritters on the A379 on Labrador Bends near Shaldon. Fortunately everyone unharmed but we're a gritter down until it can be recovered. #WeatherSW pic.twitter.com/vWHx8Ga8DH
— Devon Alert (@DevonAlert) March 2, 2018
Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk, head of roads policing across Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, wrote on Twitter: ‘Colleagues have been rescuing hundreds of stranded motorists overnight and the icy roads are treacherous.
‘Please can we have a more literal interpretation of the word ‘essential’ this morning. There have been so many warnings that this weather was coming.’
His warning was echoed by the RAC, who urged drivers to avoid any non-essential journeys in the extreme conditions.
A seven-year-old girl became the latest to die during the severe weather.
The child, believed to be a pedestrian, was fatally injured after a car hit a house on Thursday.
A 75-year-old woman was earlier found dead in a snow-covered street in Leeds, while Hampshire Police said a 46-year-old man died after a collision involving a lorry and van on the A34 southbound near Tot Hill services.
A 60-year-old man who died after being pulled from the water at Danson Park, near Welling, south-east London, on Wednesday, was named by the Metropolitan Police as Stephen Cavanagh.