Weather: Snow Causes Road And Rail Delays

Heavy snow across the country is bringing widespread disruption to commuters making their way home for the weekend.

Blizzard conditions and drifting snow are spreading across the whole country from west to east.

Most areas will see up to 10cm (4ins) of snow falling, which will hit road and rail networks as thousands head home for the weekend.

Train services in Scotland have been disrupted because of drifting snow and flights at Manchester Airport are subject to delays due to snow on the runway.

Many key motorways, including the M40, M4, M5 and M6 are reporting congestion and delays.

The AA has encouraged motorists to check conditions before setting out.

The last flurries come ahead of the big thaw, which is due over the weekend and will bring with it the threat of flooding.

As temperatures rise, heavy rain is expected and will increase the flood risk, bringing more misery to those dealing with the aftermath of last month's heavy rains.

Nazaneen Ghaffar, Sky News Weather Presenter, said: "The rain, sleet and snow will become heavy and push southeastwards towards this evening, however southeast England and East Anglia should stay dry until tonight.

"With strong winds (mainly in the north) there will be the risk of blizzard conditions and drifting.

"Significant accumulations of snow are expected, up to 10cm (4ins) in most areas and possibly double that across the hills and mountains of Scotland and Cumbria.

"The sleet and snow will spread into East Anglia and southeast England tonight then it should clear by the early hours of the morning.

"Showers will follow behind that rain across many northern and western areas, some of these will turn wintry on higher ground."

Temperatures are expected to rise to an average of 4C before reaching more than 10C in the south on Sunday.

The Met Office has 12 amber warnings in place from the Midlands up to central England, urging the public to be prepared for likely disruption caused by the heavy snow.

There are also a number of yellow warnings in Wales, southwest England and London and the South East.

Almost one in five people have not been able to work a full day because of the bad weather, according to a survey by Green Flag Breakdown.

Despite delays, the survey of more than 2,000 workers found that many had chosen to travel on public transport instead of driving.

Darron Burness, of the AA, said: "It's difficult for forecasters to know the extent of the snowfall, so check the local weather and traffic reports before heading out and be prepared for possible disruption.

"Take extra care, particularly on higher ground, and allow extra time for your journey."

The number of deaths during the cold snap, which is now into its second week, is now in double figures.

The latest victim was a 42-year-old man who died after his car careered into a river as he was driving his daughter on the school run along a bridle path near the Monsal Trail, north of the A6 in Derbyshire.

Other casualties of the cold spell include postman John Bircham, 57, who collapsed soon after he was towed out of a snowdrift in Dulverton, Somerset, on Saturday, and Bernadette Lee, 25, who was found collapsed in the snow in Deal, Kent, on Sunday following a night out.

The Environment Agency has warned of the risk of flooding.

The agency's flood risk manager, Phil Rothwell, said: "A combination of rain and snow melt over the weekend will increase the risk of flooding, especially in south west England, Wales, the West Midlands and northern England."

The severe weather has caused widespread disruption over the past week, including hundreds of flights cancelled and schools closed.

At one stage 30 people had to spend the night in a shelter after becoming stranded when the A39 between Bridgwater and Williton in Somerset became impassable in the early hours of Wednesday.

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