Storm Emma kills at least five people as military drafted in to assist with deadly conditions

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
  •  Storm Emma turns deadly as ‘at least five’ people killed
  • Red weather warning issued across Scotland for first time
  • Wales and south west England also issued red weather warning
  • Britain blanketed in snow after temperatures plunge
  • National Grid warns Britain is running out of gas
  • NHS preparing for ‘increase in heart attack cases’ due to freezing temperatures
  • A 75-year-old woman was found dead in a blizzard near her home
  • A man in his 60s dies after falling through ice on a frozen lake while rescuing his dog
  • A 46-year-old man dies after his van collides with a lorry on the A34  
  • A girl, 7, has been killed in a weather related crash in Cornwall
Motorists are advised not to drive unless absolutely necessary (PA)

At least five people have died as a result of treacherous weather in the UK.

An elderly woman was found dead near her home in Farsley, a 46-year-old van driver was killed on the A34 and a seven-year-old girl who was pronounced dead at the scene of a car accident were among those who have fallen victim to the blizzard-like conditions gripping the UK.

Yesterday, a carer died on her morning commute in Scotland and a man in his 60s died after falling through a lake in London.

Conditions have become so bad in Lincolnshire, that the Royal Air Force (RAF) has been drafted in to help relief efforts, armed with 10 4×4 vehicles and some 20 staff aiding emergency services.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The RAF is assisting in helping to transport health staff to hospitals and support health workers in visiting vulnerable people in the community in Lincolnshire following heavy snowfall.

‘There are three UK standby battalions held at high readiness to respond to UK contingencies and emergencies, including support to local authorities. We have the right people with the right training to respond to a range of contingencies.’

Motorists are being urged not to drive unless absolutely necessary as abandoned cars are causing issues for authorities with snow ploughs on certain roads.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘While many people have clearly heeded the advice not to drive in the worst affected areas the RAC dealt with 9,700 breakdowns yesterday which is an unprecedented number for a Wednesday at the end of February.

‘By 11am on Thursday the RAC had already helped 3,500 stricken motorists – a record 80% more than it would do normally on the first day of March.

Temperatures have plummeted and many roads are closed due to icy conditions (PA)

‘As Storm Emma moves into the south and south west, wind speeds are increasing significantly and we are seeing heavy snowfall move in across Cornwall and into Devon making many roads impassable.

‘We expect the conditions will rapidly worsen across the south west, South Wales and West Midlands.

‘We strongly urge drivers to avoid any non-essential journeys and if they must travel they should proceed with great caution.’

Britain’s sub-zero conditions caused by Storm Emma and ‘The Beast from the East’ led the National Grid to warn of a possible gas shortage on Thursday.

The UK’s power operator issued a ‘gas deficit warning’ as Britain’s sub-zero blizzard conditions claimed the lives of at least four people.

A combination of Storm Emma rolling in and the ‘Beast from the East’ weather pattern unleashed yet more misery on travellers, with hundreds of schools still closed and transport networks crippled.

Emergency vehicles manoeuvre past stationary traffic on the M80 Haggs in Glasgow, as the highest level of weather warning has been issued for Scotland and Ireland (PA)
A stranded car covered in snow in Whitley Bay in Tyne and Wear as Storm Emma rolls in (PA)

Wales, the south west of England and the entire Republic of Ireland have now been issued red weather warnings, along with Scotland and Ireland, indicating a danger to life.

NHS England said a ‘perfect storm’ of appalling weather, persistently high levels of flu and a spike in norovirus is placing the NHS under sustained pressure and it is preparing for an increase in heart attack cases.

As Brits keep their heating on throughout the day, the National Grid has now warned that the country may run out of gas, as imports are hit by outages.

Any means necessary: Commuter Andrea Geile skiing along Princes Street in Edinburgh (PA)

Household supplies are not expected to be affected but shortages could hit industrial users as the Grid attempts to balance supply and demand into Friday.

As well as the red alert – which has never before been issued for Scotland, England or Northern Ireland – amber warnings have also been issued for the north-east of England and the central belt of Scotland, in place between 10am and 8pm on Thursday, and for south west England and south Wales from 12pm until 8am on Friday.

On top of these, yellow snow warnings have been issued for vast swathes of southern, central, and northern England, Northern Ireland and Wales – in place for most of Thursday.

Some drivers claimed to have been stuck on the M80 motorway between Glasgow and Stirling since Wednesday afternoon. The motorway was closed southbound between junctions 8 and 9.

A red alert has been issued for the whole Republic of Ireland (PA)

A Met Office forecaster said that winter is ‘still firmly in charge’, as Britain prepares for another day of sub-zero temperatures, icy blasts and gusts of up to 60mph bringing ‘blizzard-like conditions’.

Storm Emma, rolling in from the Atlantic, looks poised to meet the Beast from the East’s chilly Russia air – causing further widespread snowfall and bitter temperatures.

The highest level of alert has been issued for heavy snow in parts of Scotland as extreme weather continues to batter the country – with another day of sub-zero temperatures, icy blasts and “blizzard-like” conditions to come.

As winds picked up overnight, drifting snow caused misery for many motorists – with some parts recording accumulations up to a foot deep.


A Met Office warning – covering central Scotland, Tayside and Fife – means severe conditions are expected in those areas until at least 10am on Thursday.

Forecaster Craig Snell said although Thursday marks the first day of meteorological spring, ‘winter is still firmly in charge across the UK’.

He also warned that extreme weather will grip Britain for another 48 hours.

Mr Snell said: ‘The red warning is our highest tier, we don’t often see a red warning – the last one was back in 2016 up in Shetland and Orkney and that was for strong winds.

‘The last time we had the red snow warning was back in 2013 and that was for South Wales – they do not get issued that often.’

Mr Snell added: ‘There could be 10cm to 20cm of snow quite widely in that area, with possibly Dartmoor or Exmoor seeing up to 50cm of snow.’

Heading into Friday he warned that the snow in the south west may turn into freezing rain and could ‘give a glaze of ice’ on top any lying snow – making conditions ‘even more treacherous’.

In Lincolnshire, police warned that ‘most roads’ had become impassable, with the force’s control room tweeting that it had received reports of some remote villages being ‘totally cut off under 2ft of snow’.

The coldest ever UK March temperatures (PA)
Police try to keep cars moving on the M80 Haggs in Glasgow (PA)
Treacherous roads are being cleared for people attempting to drive (PA)

The A52 was closed between Boston and Skegness all night, with not even a snowplough able to get through, the fire service said.

The A66 in the North East was shut between Scotch Corner and Brough, while the A628 was closed in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire between Flouch and Tintwistle due to snow and stranded vehicles.

Highways England said the A56 in Lancashire would be shut between the M65 and A680 for ‘several hours’ to recover a crashed lorry and clear the snow.


Meanwhile Cheshire Police said there were around eight miles of tailbacks on the M62 as officers with 4x4s, Highways England patrols, contractors and snow ploughs attempted to clear snow between junctions 21 and 22 eastbound.

Road like this snowy street in Bracknell, Berkshire, have become treacherous to drive on (PA)

AA president Edmund King compared driving on many ‘atrocious’ UK roads to skating on ice rinks, and said they had added extra patrols and 4x4s to cope with the severe conditions.

He said: ‘The weather is expected to get worse in many areas before it gets better, so to those debating whether or not to risk the roads, bear in mind that being able to reach your destination this morning doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to get home again later.’

Southern Rail said some services had been slowed by icicles in Balcombe tunnel.

The operator said: ‘Staff are on site to monitor the situation and Network Rail will be removing these at the end of the service today.’

Drivers manoeuvre their cars past stationary lorries on the M80 Haggs in Glasgow (PA)

A man in his 60s died on Wednesday after being pulled from a lake in Danson Park, south east London that he had fallen into.

Firefighters also rescued a young boy who had tried to run into the middle of a frozen lake and got trapped as the ice broke up at Laindon near Basildon, Essex.

Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said some parts of the south west could see up to 50cm of snow by Friday morning.

He warned: ‘If you don’t have to go anywhere over the next few days, stay at home.’

People look at blank departure boards at Paddington train station in London which has been closed (PA)

Met Eireann, the Irish meteorological service warned of blizzards, severe thunderstorms and coastal flooding after issuing a red alert for the whole of the country.

In response to the impending heavy snow showers all schools, community centres and libraries in Edinburgh will be closed, the city’s local authority said.

In response to the impending heavy snow showers all schools, community centres and libraries in Edinburgh will be closed, the city’s local authority said.

Plymouth Council said more than 80 schools would be closed on Thursday, with more than 50 in Newcastle and 103 across Devon remaining shut.

Disruption across the country’s road and rail network is expected to ensue throughout rush hour on Thursday, with road closures already in place and alterations to train services.

Several airports reported disruption due to the weather, with Gatwick Airport expecting ‘a large number of cancellations and delays to flights’.

Glasgow Airport said there would be no flights until 11am, while Edinburgh Airport tweeted to say most airlines had cancelled flights from there until lunchtime.

A gritter on the M9 attempts to make the roads safer for drivers (PA)

The extreme weather shows no sign of letting up, with fears snow in the south west could turn into freezing rain on Friday – making conditions ‘even more treacherous’.

Police across the country also advised motorists to avoid driving if possible owing to poor visibility and treacherous conditions.

The Met Office said the highest temperature in the UK on Wednesday was 1.7C recorded in Katesbridge, County Down and the coldest in Braemar, Aberdeenshire at -5.3C.

Mr Snell warned: ‘Generally many places on Thursday will struggle to get anywhere near -1C, a few people will come up above, but many of us will be firmly below freezing.’