UK weather: Britain braced for black ice and floods as the thaw sets in after Storm Emma – latest news
3 MARCH 2018 • 6:20AM
- Snow to give way to floods as Storm Emma hits UK
- Motorists warned of black ice
- Rail passengers could face more delays
- Mutiny on the trains as passengers press emergency buttons
- Motorists stranded, rail passengers describe hellish night
Travellers are bracing for further disruption today amid warnings of black ice and flooding as the snow that fell across much of the country begins to thaw.
With the country reeling from four days of chaos wrought by storm Emma and the so-called “beast from the East” weather front, the Met Office said weather warnings remained in place for much of the population.
Drivers across much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will face icy roads on Saturday, with a yellow alert in place until 11am.
A yellow weather warning is also in place throughout the day in England and Scotland, where snow showers are expected to cause further disruption to transport.
Paul Gunderson, chief meteorologist at the Met Office said: “As we head into next week there is likely to be more of a north-south split in weather conditions.
“There will continue to be a risk of rain, sleet and snow at times.
“The less cold air means there will be a gradual thaw, but this will freeze again overnight so ice is likely to be an additional overnight hazard together with low cloud and fog.
“Colder conditions will continue in the north, with snow showers, although less heavy and less frequent than of late.”
After rail services were thrown into turmoil on Friday by the severe conditions, Southeastern Railway, which operates in Kent, East Sussex and London, said an amended timetable would be in place today with services starting later than usual.
It also urged to check services were running before heading to the stations as some lines remained closed.
The delays in south-east London had prompted some commuters to take matters into their own hands, pressing the emergency door release and getting out onto the tracks. As a result, all lines through Lewisham station were blocked.
Power was switched off on trains because of the incident and the police and fire service were brought in to help get people off trains.
London Waterloo, the UK’s busiest train station, shut down shortly before 10pm, with South Western Railway services winding down early.
While the roads are slowly being cleared of snow, motorists have been warned to be wary of black ice.
A number of cars were caught up in a pile-up in Devon on Friday, with five to 10 vehicles involved in a collision on the A38 westbound between the A380 and the B3344.
The RAC had warned frozen rain – which occurs when snow, ice, sleet or hail passes through a layer of warm air before cooling again closer to the ground, freezing immediately on impact – could pose a deadly road risk.
Traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Freezing rain perhaps represents one of the greatest challenges any driver could face.
“Droplets of rain which come into contact with the ground and other surfaces freeze instantly. This creates a huge hazard as roads may look clear and safe, despite actually being potentially icy death traps.
“Where freezing rain is forecast, put simply drivers should avoid using their vehicles in affected areas.”
The Met Office added on Twitter that black ice was a threat that could be caused by freezing rain, as it “may not be visible, but it will be there”.
Devon police have told villagers at the coast to board up their homes and evacuate if they can as Storm Emma hits.
Some of the communities which were worst-hit by the snow were due to be battered by floods, as strong waves broke coastal defences and sea walls.
Gale force 9 winds and 20-foot high waves have been predicted by the Environment Agency, which published 15 warnings and 36 alerts, predominantly for south west and north east England.
Airports are expected to gradually return to normal today after more than 1,250 flights were cancelled across the UK and Ireland on Friday.
Passengers were urged to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport as some delays were still expected.
In Scotland, gritting and snow clearing on the roads was set to continue over the weekend, while train firm ScotRail said it would operate as many services as it could on Saturday.
The central belt’s main airports are open, although they are encouraging people to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airports.
Meanwhile, some health boards are continuing to prioritise emergency and urgent procedures, with routine cases postponed.
The Met Office announced the UK had officially broken its record for the lowest maximum temperature for March in a 24 hour period. Tredegar in Wales didn’t get above -4.7 °C all day.
This beats the previous record, set in 2001 when Cassley in Sunderland was -4.6 degrees celcius all day.
Half a metre of snow was measured in two areas – Drumalbin, Lanarkshire, and St Athan in Glamorgan, South Wales – while strengthening winds caused blizzards and drifting snow in some parts of the country.