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24 September 2014

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St Austell by Tim Styles

Arctic Blast Cripples Cornwall

On Friday 25 November, Cornwall was plunged into chaos as blizzards rapidly engulfed the region. The scene quickly deteriorated leaving up to 1000 people stranded across the Moors.

Cornwall faced a day of severe weather causing chaos on the roads. Inches of snow fell leaving treacherous driving conditions.

Many people chose to leave work early in the hope that they would be able to get home before the temperatures dipped and the situation became even more hazardous. 

More than 500 people were forced to spend Friday evening in temporary accommodation after they became stranded on the A30.

Among the high number of accidents was a collision which closed the A38 between Doublebois and Turfdown Cross, near Bodmin, for part of the day on Sunday.

Police issued a fresh warning for drivers to keep speeds down and consider whether their journey was necessary.

last updated: 05/12/05
Have Your Say
Were you stuck in the snow? Perhaps you were one of the unlucky ones trapped on Bodmin Moor? We want to hear your story, read some of them so far:
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Bruce Robson
I was driving from London to Portscatho on Friday 25th. I left west London at about 8am and about 6-8 miles after Launceston, 2 police vehicles came by with their blue lights flashing. About half a mile after this I joined the back of a queue. This was at about 12:30. We then sat there not moving at all for about 3 hours. During this time I saw no sign of any police etc. Eventually when the cloud lifted a bit we saw some helicopters. The first was a small one with registration letters ending in TV and I presume was filming for the TV news. Eventually a second larger yellow one appeared. I gather from news reports that this was working with the police. There had only been a maximum of 2 inches of snow at the point where we were stopped and this was melting. I have some photos I took and these show that the road was almost clear amongst the queuing vehicles. The few cars going in the opposite direction keep that carriage way clear. Eventually we started moving a few hundred yards at a time. This went on for another couple of hours. The most snow at the worst point was about 4 inches. During this time we did see one snowplough squeeze by and also a 4 wheel drive Coast Guard vehicle. Just as it was getting dark we reached the Bodmin junction where the Police were directing all west bound traffic off the A30. I did try asking the police which was the best road to take to get to the other side of St. Austell, but they didn't know. At Bodmin I first got into a queue of traffic heading towards A38. I then turned around and took minor roads into the center of Bodmin. From there I found the B3268. The B3268 had some packed snow on the road but was useable. I'm not sure if a snowplough had been along it or not. When I turned on to the B3269 it was the same. There were very few other cars on these roads (although quite a few cars had been left at the side of the road on the hills). I then joined the A390 and there was more traffic on this. I didn't have any problems going west but eastbound traffic was blocked by lorries that were unable to make the hill out of St Blazey. There was a snow plough trying to clear snow from the hill so that traffic could proceed. At St Austell there was less that 2 inches and the amount continued to lessen. I finally arrived at Portscatho at 7:45. I have driven to ski resorts in the Alps many times. On at least 3 occasions in much worse weather than we had on Friday without getting caught in queues like we had on Friday. During my journey I was never unable to proceed because of thesnow. All my problems came from lorries having difficult with the snow. In my opinion the problem wasn't the amount of snow. It was that the Police were unable to deal with the few heavy lorries that had difficulties. The French and Swiss do have more snow ploughs but they also ban lorries without snow chains.

phil wallis
well the poor old council were so busy gritting the roads can some one tell me where as i didnt see any between wadebridge and padstow it must have been buried in the snow i did see them doing the pavement up by asda in bodmin on saturday the pavement in the town looked in bad need of some salt long before the pavement up by asda

Dan Hazelton
Weather forecasts on Friday morning were predicting no snow at all for cornwall, and a light dusting over Devon's moors. The main roads had been gritted but it has no effect when eight to ten inches of snow falls in the space of five hours. I think it's a pity that people have been looking for someone to blame, when for most of us living in Cornwall, this amount of snow was a dream! Surely worse things have happened to people than being stuck in their cars for a few hours! Well done to the emergency services to a job well done. Here's to plenty more snow and days off work this winter!

David Roberts
We left Snowdonia in Blizzards and heavy snows , but on well treated and ploughed roads through wild conditions we managed to get down through the whole length of Wales and finally to Cornwall in about 5 hours!! The rest can only be described as a farce we were stuck , as was everyone else in a mindless queue of traffic in marginal winter conditions , with the only info coming from Radio Cornwall and a friendly man with cups of Tea near Bodmin Parkway. We originaly were directed on to the A390 where we headed only to wait an hour to be told that was being shut so use the A38 ! Fine except this took forever I had a 2 year in the car with me and luckily as I had been mountaineering in North Wales was well equipped with my gear , nonetheless the engine had to be kept on to prevent temperatures plumetting. Anyway we finally got back to The Lizard at 2am - 16 hours after we started. Where were the gritters? & the snowploughs ? etc! etc! etc and why could those abandoned cars not simply have been pushed off the road - instead of left where they stopped , so that we all had to go single filearound them?? I suggest a visit to the Highland Region in Scotland is a must for Cornish operatives , to see how they manage to keep The A82 across Rannoch Moor open and flowing in 100 MPH winds and a 24 hour blizzard - Think about it please next time that a bit of snow is forecast !!

In Addition to my previous notes. Another month and it certainly would have been a White Christmas

Kelly & Chris Davies
Hi, My husband and I were on our way to Truro from Bristol on Friday afternoon and heard about the accident on the A30. We decided to drive up to the A39 via the A395 to avoid the back log of cars on Bodmin moor but found the roads to be horrendous! It took us two hours to travel 4 miles and eventually we got to Camelford where the police stopped us, as the road to Wadebridge was impassable. We ended up in Camelford Sports Centre for the night, sleeping on a crash mat. It was freezing but thankfully the Army flew sleeping bags and blankets to us. In all it took us twenty hours to get from Bristol to Truro.. longest yet!! I would like to thank all of those that helped us in Camelford Sports Centre, it was very much appreciated. Thanks.

Bob Ford
I left Leicstershire, with a friend, for my home near Falmouth at 9.20 last Friday. We had bright sunshine all the way. At approx. I had a message saying that there had been a "build-up" of traffic in the Jamaica Inn area reported on Radio Cornwall. We decided to continue our journey. We encountered the said "build-up" just after Launceston. There had been no sign of gritting, gritter lorries or anything else that might have indicated that the authorities had taken any notice of the weather reports of the past 48 - 72 hours that snowfall could be expected in the Southwest on Friday. How niaive of us to expect that the Emergency Planners would do their jobs! We were trapped on the Moor for more than 8 hours, often at a standstill for over an hour at a time. Luckily our planning had been a little better, because although we expected that the authorities would do an efficient job of dealing with an anticipated heavy snowfall, we still took precautions with regard to food, petrol etc. When we finally cleared the jam it became obvious that we had been deliberately 'held' on the Moor so that Truro, St.Austell etc. could be ungridlocked. After all, releasing the 500 or so vehicles that were travelling westwards would only have exacerbated the serious situations that existed down the line. Small comfort to those with children, elderly people or with little petrol. Cornwall Emergency Planners should be ashamed of themselves and a Public Enquiry should be set up to ensure that the County are better prepared for the future. I have lived in Upstate New York where up to six feet of snow can fall in a few hours - the people there would never believe that they could ever face the dreadful situation that we did. We finally arrived home at midnight.

Andrew Thorburn
Left Plymouth for a few days holiday in Australia. 32 degrees C I am convinced we did the right thing

Lindsey Apperley
My husband and myself were travelling last Friday from Reading to our daughters home in Redruth, it took us 15 hours in all, eleven to do the last 47 miles. We would like to thank Radio Cornwall for keeping us informed and sane. You produced a wonderful service on Friday and we all appreciated your coverage. We felt that the emergency services did a fantastic job, it was very reassuring to watch the Police and Fire service travelling alongside the queue of traffic. Thank you very much and keep up the good work. Best wishes to you all.

G. Haddou
I think it is fair to say everyone was caught out. But what is unacceptable is the lack of news and information. The radio stations were not very good and could have provided a lot more information and alerts. As for Devon & Cornwall police information, one look at their website has no mention of the A30 at Bodmin closing in late morning.....all it says is opened at 22:11. If more effort was spent on this than speed cameras please.

Colin and Mark
We've seen snow in Newquay before, but nothing like on Friday! We were both lucky to have days off!

Phillip Wills
My 5 year old Son, Joshua, went on a trip to the Trelawney Garden centre on Friday morning, and ended up stuck there. I would like to thank the owner and his wife for putting Josh, his 4 classmates, teacher and 4 helpers up for the night in their home. I understand Josh did'nt go to sleep until 2am! Thanks once again. I was stranded in Truro for the night, so I still did'nt manage to dust off my sledge and use it. next time I'll listen to the warnings and not venture out. We were warned.

We were failed by Cornwall County Council. Just how many gritters with snowplough attachments does this county own? The rest of the country copes far better in these situations. I guess this will be an excuse to raise our council tax bills next year in order to buy more gritter lorries. Absolutely appalling situation. If the snow had fallen for longer and not thawed so quickly I'm sure that people would have died due to the neglect by the authorities. Get your house in order please Cornwall County Council.

I can't see how the the County Council can turned around and blamed the motorists for the accidents and the trouble that was caused, after all none of the Cornish roads were gritted,I was stuck on the A39 just north of camelford for 11 hours! and I only saw one gritter and that one turn around and went back towards the A30. roll on the winter!

Let it snow, Let it snow or Snow had fallen Snow on Snow. Living in Newquay and working in Wadebridge I well would have been stuck but I took the day off and it proved providence too. I would have had to catch the bus back St Columb and then perhaps walk the rest of the way. I love to see the snow, it's not that often we have it. I was out taking video's and still picture's via old 35MM Camera throw away as I haven't got a digital camere. I don't think I have ever seen it so thick. We motored up towards Bodmin Moor on Sunday but considered it wise to go no further. I feel really sorry for those who were stuck but I just love to see the snow though.

Fraser Wilson
So, it is winter as normal, ! all the experts and those who say global warming, the hurricanes, earth quakes.! well not much has changed.?! only for the politics that deam it to be and preach it with no real evidence apart from mthe norm,,,,,

Ellie Hughes
Thankfully I pulled off the A30 and took the slippery back roads to Blisland where I abandoned the car and managed to get a lift home to St Breward with a local farmer in his tractor! Thanks to all at Radio Cornwall for keeping me informed on the weather and road situation on the day. I would have carried on along the A30 had I not tuned in. Keep up the great work.

Vince and Lana
Friday was our moving house day! We moved from Plymouth to Kelly Bray (near Callington). I was driving my a very heavy transit van full of all our stuff, it was very tricky driving on the A388 between Hatt and Kelly Bray. A fully laiden LWB transit van slipping and slidding all over the place, even sliding backwards down hills with all teh brakes on! Anyway, we eventually moved in safely, did two trips in teh van! They said on the radio, "do not drive unless absolutely necessary!" our case we had no choice....a day to remember thats for sure! :-)

Why did the two schools that my children go to (Brannel and Foxhole) not contact the parents to ask for the children to be collected? Why are where 5 children sleeping in the school hall at Foxhole tonight with a teacher, as they have not been collected? Why were the children at Brannel released from the school, without any form of registration. I rang to be told that my daughter was not at the school!!! She is eleven and walked home in the snow from St.Stephens to Foxhole. The school had no idea who had what or when they had left. She could have died in the snow and I would not have known until too late. Why were the main roads in St.Austell NOT GRITTED even with all the warning? It took me 4 hours to go 4 miles from St.Austell to Foxhole? Snow is natural, it was predicted. Cornwall was NOT ready. If this had been a man made event, i.e. A BOMB BLAST etc. would Cornwall come out as equally unprepared?

Sam Rookes
My journey from Exeter to St Austell on friday took 12 hours in total, not something i wish to experience again.

Mike Smith
I was returning from Andover to Redruth on Friday afternoon. I left Andover at approximately 10.15am and was just past Launceston on the A30 by about 1.30pm and this is where the fun started! I eventually got home (Redruth) at 20 minutes before midnight! I tuned my radio to radio Cornwall in an attempt to keep up to date with the situation but found that all one heard was the same report delivered at regular intervals but the report was not updated until late evening. It would have been better to get regular updates, if we were told what the rescue services were doing perhaps it might have lifted people's spirits. I watched Police, Coast Guard and Fire Service 4 x 4 vehicles moving up and down in the opposite carriageway and thought it would be helpful to all us stranded motorists if they could broadcast some advice via loud speakers but nothing was heard. So I sat in the queues read my book listened to my CDs and plays on Radio 4 until slowly mile by mile I got home after almost 14 hours on the road. Spending 10+ hours sat in my car on Bodmin Moor is not an experience I wish to repeat in a hurry!

It took my wife and myself 9hours to get home to Pool nr Redruth from Trago Mills Liskeard. We were going to Plymouth the weather was good untill we got to Dobwalls it started to snow heavely so we carried on to Liskeard where we turned around and headed home. We saw no gritter or snow ploughs on the bypass this was about 9.30am. We stopped at Trago to wait for it to clear as the forcasters were saying there would only be showers. By 12.30pm it was still snowing so we decided to move, just pass the station we came to a stop and this is where we stayed,police came and went, By 4.00 decided to try and drive out because help was not coming did get out to the bypass only to be stuck on Goss Moor for about 5hours.Arriving home at about 10.00pm, my opinionis that the A38 & A30 had not been gritted.

Mike Aldrich
My girlfriend's car broke down on the A30 this evening near scourier, whilst stuck a snow laden traffic jam. The nearby policeman told her to try to get home and recover the car in the morning. She eventually got home, 12 miles, mostly walking, 4 hours later. Then, just after midnight the police woke us by phone, to tell us the road the car was on was clear, and we had to move the vehicle, or it would get towed to an undisclosed compound. Apparently, unless you get the police officers shoulder number, everything he says to you vanishes quicker than the snow ! I know they're busy, but sending people back out in these conditions to recover vehicles is stupid...

Denise Taylor
I am having a ball ski-ing down our slopes and drive. I am sorry for the people who have to go out - but I am just loving this snow and got out my ski's Fantastic.

My husband has just arrived home from Okehampton, we live in Commonmoor, thanks for all the travel reports I was able to tell him to come home early because of you.

Dawn Coles
It has taken me 3 hours to get home from work - Redruth to Helston. I found my best route was to get on the A30 and head for Penzance before turning back towards Helston at the Marazion Roundabout. The other roads were being blocked by vehicles with rear wheel drive unable to move - off the main roads front wheel drives are having major problems too. ABS kicks in when your sliding and it takes even longer to stop. A major problem in some areas where the speed bumps.

Ann Double
Truro City came to a stand still, cars were abandoned and people queued for hours to get trains that had also been delayed due to the snow. Schools were closed but many children were stuck without transport to pick them up. For around 1000 people however the story was even more dramatic. Across Bodmin Moor more than 500 vehicles became trapped in the ice and snow. Many spent the night in rescue centres in Bodmin and Launceston. I have never in my 41 years seen snow like this in St Austell. We are cut off, it would seem. I have spent the afternoon in my hot tub outside - awesome! Hope everyone is safe.

Ruth Cutts
I was stuck on my way back from Treliske hospital to Launceston yesterday on the A30 from 12.30pm until it reopened at 9.30pm across Bodmin. I got home safely at 10.45pm. Please can you pass on via the radio a huge thankyou to a lorry driver whose name I don't know but whose lorry had the name SHREK on the front of the cab. Waiting to get off the A30 at the A38 Bodmin turn for 4 hours, he gave me a hot cup of tea and stew - I don't think I would have got home without his help. In contrast the Victoria Inn at Roche where I first tried to find shelter for the night at 6pm - were full butrefused to let people stay in thebuilding- only it was in their cars in car park. So much for some people trying  to help in an emergency - they should be ashamed!

Adam Hawkins
I was one of the many students stranded in Truro College. At first we believed the predicted snow would not come - as weather isn't exactly predictable in Cornwall. The first trouble we heard of was at about 1:30pm, when during my electronics lecture a member of staff appeared with a message to all the many students travelling to  east cornwall to gather in the bus park to leave ASAP. About 15 minutes after hearing this, it began to snow. I then proceeded to my next lecture, only to find out that my lecturer was packing up. He explained to me that the college was now closing and that all students should wait for our busses - which should be arriving early. We waited for a very long time, passing the time with snowballs. After an hour or so, we were all moved to the Mylor building, as it became apparent that the buses would be a very long time in coming. The principal instructed us to stay in the main areas of the building and certainly not go outside and try to walk home as some people had already done. He encouaraged us to contact out parents if at all possible. Unfortunately this was very hard to manage as the mobile networks were jammed though it was still possible after multiple attempts. Our principal explained that they were trying to contact the bus companies but that they would be a long time in coming, as they were making slow progress and in some cases had not even left the depots. We were given free soup and there was a film for us to watch. However, I spent most of my time trying to get through on my mobile phone and emailing people I knew to explain where I was. Luckily, for me and two of my friends my father managed to drive to Truro from Coverack and managed to pick us up at around 8pm allowing us to all get home before 10pm.  It took a very long time to make it back to Helston but at least everyone got home.

Ellie from Helston
I was stuck in Falmouth for six hours, due to the snow. I left Falmouth Marine School at 2:35pm to catch the early bus home, but it had left early. I was then stuck for a further two hours before the college found a b&b for me to stay in. I am very grateful to the owners of Caslteton Bed and Breakfast, as they allowed me to have a room to stay in until 9:30pm, when my dad finally arrived after nearly 3 hours of travelling, from Truro. Thank you to the people in the office at Falmouth Marine School and to my course lecturer for their help. Friday was a very interesting day...

Hayley Jones
I was stuck in a car with 4 colleagues trying to travel back to the Midlands from Truro. We were stranded for nearly 10 hours until the A30 reopened, but received no contact from any of the emergency services all night. Where were the rescue centres I now hear housed all stranded motorists for the night? We eventually got back to Hereford at 3 am.

Rachel Hyde
Me, my sister and my brother in-law were travelling from Newport to St.Austell, never have I seen so much snow and I used to live in St.Austell. We were stuck for at least 4 hours near Bodmin, but then got to Bodmin Parkway Station where we had to leave the car over night to catch the train, driving through Devon was no problem at all, but then we got into Cornwall and problems began. I can't believe that the County Council turned around and blamed the motorists for the accidents and the trouble that was caused, after all none of the Cornish roads were gritted and when does it ever snow in Cornwall?

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