UK

Flood fears as snow turns to rain and temperatures rise

  • 26 January 2013
  • From the section UK

There is concern flooding is on the way, with forecasters predicting the recent snow will make way for heavy rain and milder temperatures.

Overnight snow across parts of the UK caused travel disruption with motorists on the M6 forced to abandon their cars, before traffic moved freely again on Saturday morning.

Snow grounded planes at Leeds Bradford Airport but it has now re-opened.

There has been flooding in Wales, and there are five flood warnings in place.

Temperatures are expected to reach an average 4C on Saturday, while the Met Office has issued a yellow warning - meaning be aware - of rain in Northern Ireland.

As well as five flood warnings for south-west England and Wales, the Environment Agency has 80 flood alerts in place.

In Northumberland, 33cm (12in) of snow fell overnight at the Met Office weather station at Redesdale - the most recorded this year.

'Stay in your car'

During the night, the Highways Agency closed the M6 motorway in both directions between junctions 25 and 27 near Wigan, after cars and lorries became stuck in the snow.

Image caption There has been flash flooding in Wales, including at Llanddowror in Carmarthenshire

A shelter was set up at Charnock Services - close to junction 28 - for motorists forced to leave their vehicles in poor driving conditions and freezing temperatures.

David Morris, the Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, was stuck on the M6 near Wigan for more than three hours.

He told the BBC: "The gritters were out doing their job, everybody's been doing all they can do to help.

"It's a surreal scene to be had. We've even been having snowball fights on the M6."

Another driver, who was stuck near junction 25 on the M6 for three hours, Neil Turner, said "it was horrible".

"It was very cold, everyone was chatting, trying to keep warm. There was just no movement," he said.

Lancashire Police also worked with Lancashire Mountain Rescue teams, the Highways Agency and Greater Manchester Police to clear roads and provide help to those who were stranded.

The Highway Agency worked throughout the night to clear the routes with snow ploughs.

A spokesman said: "The snowfall was very sudden and very heavy - over a foot in some places - causing cars to become stranded," he said.

"But we have managed to get through the traffic and clear most routes to get people moving again.

"We are urging those who have abandoned their cars to collect them. All we can do is move them to the side for now, but it makes it difficult to clear routes.

"With the rain falling and ice melting onto very cold road surfaces, we are now warning drivers of the danger of ice."

The M56 was also affected by closures due to the snow.

Cumbria has also been badly affected by snow, where police say many minor roads are impassable.

In south-west Wales, flooding has already caused problems - particularly in Whitland in Carmarthenshire and Narberth, Haverfordwest, and St David's in Pembrokeshire.

Mid and West Wales Fire Service said it had received more than 270 calls on Friday evening, with "quite a large number of flooding incidents" across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen and Swansea, including incidents of properties flooding and people becoming trapped in their cars.

Local councils have been asked to assist with sandbags and unblocking drains.

In Narberth, Pembrokeshire, residents are reported to be battling to keep water out of their homes, and roads in the area are flooded.

Local councillor Wyn Evans told the BBC melting snow and torrential rain had caused "severe flooding and destruction" in the area.

"Even our police station has been flooded this evening and that's never ever happened before, so all our police officers had to relocate elsewhere," he said.

'Some delays'

All flights were suspended at Leeds Bradford International Airport on Friday night as further snow hit most of the Yorkshire area.

The airport has now reopened, although passengers are being warned to expect delays and disruption.

BBC weather forecaster Peter Sloss said snow already affecting much of northern England and the Midlands had extended to high ground in south-east England and East Anglia during the night.

He said while heavy rain was affecting south Wales and south-west England, drier conditions in Northern Ireland and much of Scotland would extend to most places on Saturday.

It would be a bright, fine day with "more sunshine than we have seen in some time".

Looking forward, he said wet and windy weather would affect much of the country on Saturday night.

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