M6 snow leaves drivers stranded

'Carnage' on the M6 overnight

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Hundreds of people spent the night in vehicles after snow brought motorways in the north of England to a halt.

The M6 was blocked in both directions between junctions 25 and 27 in Lancashire after more than 30cm (12ins) of snow fell.

They spent the night stuck in cars and lorries before traffic started to move freely again on Saturday morning.

Flights were also suspended at Leeds Bradford Airport as workers tried to clear snow from the runway.

Problems began late on Friday as huge waves of snow storms swept across northern England.

The M6 was hardest hit as several lorries jack-knifed between Wigan and Standish, bringing traffic to a standstill for hours.

At one stage, the queue of stranded traffic stretched for up to three miles.

There were also problems on the M56 and M58, although police say traffic is now moving again across the region.

Meanwhile, snow also caused problems across England:

  • Roads in Yorkshire were closed as Leeds Bradford Airport was brought to a standstill
  • Highways Agency urges drivers to return to cars abandoned on motorways
  • A couple were rescued from North Yorks Moors after their car was stuck in a snowdrift
  • Bus services suspended in Halifax and Keighley
  • Met Office warns melting snow and heavy rain could trigger flooding

Motorist Ryan Murray was stuck for seven hours on the M6 in Lancashire as he made his way from Aberdeen.

He said: "The snow got worse and then started to come in sideways. You could not see at all.

"The motorway became an absolute car park. What was making it worse was once all the articulated lorries stopped they struggled to get moving again.

"I was stuck from about 11pm to 6am. I was sitting there for seven hours. A couple of people got out and made snowmen."

'Stuck for hours'

Motorist Neil Turner was stuck on the same road as he made his way from Glasgow to Gravesend.

He said: "By the time I got to junction 25, it was just a standstill. I spent three and half hours just sitting there not moving. It was horrible.

"I think a couple of lorries must have jack-knifed and blocked traffic."

Ch Insp Mike Adamson, of Lancashire Police, said: "We realised at about 11pm last night that this was going to be a major incident.

"Some of the drivers and passengers have been stuck for hours - it has been a very difficult night for them.

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"We have set up a command centre at Charnock Services, where officers have collected hot drinks and taken them to those who are stuck."

Some of the stranded drivers abandoned their cars completely.

One man had to be taken to hospital by police after becoming ill in his car while it was stuck.

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

Lancashire Police has urged drivers who abandoned vehicles on the A56 between Rising Bridge and Edenfield overnight to move them.

Up to 30 vehicles were left on the road but a Lancashire Police spokesman said the lane closed is re-opening so they need to be moved as soon as possible.

Trains between Wigan Wallgate and Preston and Liverpool South Parkway and Blackpool North have been suspended in both directions due to the weather.

A spokesman for Northern Rail said some replacement buses are being provided between Wigan Wallgate and Preston.

The runway has re-opened at Leeds Bradford International Airport after snow halted flights on Friday night.

However, passengers were warned there would still be delays to services.

North Yorkshire Fire Service said a husband and wife had to be rescued from a snow drift on the North York Moors after a breakdown company refused to attend.

Roads blocked

A spokesman said: "Due to extreme weather conditions a husband and wife had driven into a snow drift and were unable to get out.

"The wife had undergone surgery a week before and they had tried to dig themselves out for over two hours."

North Yorkshire Police said some main roads were blocked by snow and abandoned vehicles including the A59 between Harrogate and Skipton and the B6265 at Rylstone.

Bus services were suspended in a number of towns in West Yorkshire yesterday evening, including in Halifax and Keighley.

The Met Office warned that melting snow and rain predicted for Sunday could then lead to flooding.

The Environment Agency has issued six flood warnings across the South West and 74 flood alerts in England.

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