Heavy snow disrupts Surrey roads

Heavy snowfall across Surrey overnight led to police warnings of treacherous conditions on the roads and disruption at Heathrow airport.

Surrey Police advised people only to make essential journeys and to allow extra time for those.

Traffic incidents reported during the snow included a collision between a car and an ambulance in Ashford and a 4x4 that overturned in Guildford.

Heathrow was running about 50% of the 1,300 flights that were scheduled.

Det Supt Ray Marley said several inches of snow fell across the county, leading to travel problems, but most roads were passable with care on Sunday.

He said: "Most people have listened to early weather warnings which has meant traffic problems have been kept to a minimum throughout the county as the adverse weather conditions set in over the weekend."

He urged people only to make essential journeys and allow additional travel time, and also to check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours.

Early hour 'gridlock'

A statement from Heathrow airport said runways, taxiways and stands had been cleared of snow and the airport was getting back to normal but disruption would continue.

It said: "We took the decision with airlines and air traffic control yesterday to reduce the flight schedule in advance.

"By cancelling flights in advance airlines have been able to rebook some people on to flights that are departing, and passengers have had better quality information about whether they can fly or not."

The airport said no further snow was forecast but freezing fog was predicted on Sunday evening.

Monday's schedule was planned to operate as normal but there may be some cancellations following Sunday's disruption, it added.

Passengers were advised to check with airlines before travelling if they expected to fly over the next few days.

Airport operator BAA also urged people to allow extra time to reach the airport if travelling by road.

Gatwick airport said it remained open for business but warned that roads across the UK were disrupted by snow.

Traffic came to a standstill in Reigate during the early hours because of a jack-knifed lorry, residents said.

'M25 slip road closure'

Philippa Ratcliffe, who lives in the town, heard the noise of traffic and went out of her flat at 03:00 GMT to find a lorry stuck at a West Street junction, a town centre in gridlock, and a tailback of standstill articulated lorries and cars.

She said local residents came to the aid of the stranded drivers including the landlord and manager of the Red Cross pub, who used a shovel, broom and bucket of salt to clear the area.

Image caption Snowfall disrupted flights at Heathrow airport which was operating a reduced service

Ms Ratcliffe said vehicles in the area were also disrupted by the closure of an M25 slip road.

Another Surrey resident, Fergus McIver, of Newdigate, filmed his drive along a snow-covered country lane on the Zig Zag at Box Hill.

Before the snow swept across the country, Surrey County Council (SCC) said it had 17,000 tonnes of salt available, together with a fleet of gritters and an army of volunteers.

The local authority also had 50 farmers available to help clear roads, and about 70 volunteers from Surrey 4x4 response who could use their vehicles to help people with transport during harsh weather.

More than 1,700 grit bins were filled across the county.

Epsom and St Helier NHS said the cold weather had already been having "a massive impact" on Surrey with increased admissions to A&E due to falls on ice.

The Met Office issued amber "be prepared" snow warnings for areas across the UK, including the South East.

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