Police declare major incident and urge against travel to Cumbria after snowfall

03/12/2023

Police declare major incident and urge against travel to Cumbria after snowfall

Cumbria Police has urged people not to travel to the county on Sunday after it declared a major incident because of heavy snowfall on the county’s roads.

The force said a multi-agency response was ongoing on Saturday evening to “minimise the challenges that heavy snowfall is continuing to have on the county’s road network”.

It has urged people not to travel to the county on Sunday unless necessary, adding that some highway teams had been “verbally abused” as they attempted to deal with the situation.

In a post on social media, Cumbria Police said: “A yellow weather warning for ice is in place for tomorrow morning which will have a continued impact on Cumbria’s roads.

“We would also urge people not to travel to the county tomorrow unless necessary.”

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service said it was utilising its 4 x 4 vehicles to help “vulnerable people stuck in the snow as required”, adding that it was assisting at reception centres.

Cumbria Police said the M6 southbound between J38 and J37 was blocked on Saturday due to jackknifed lorries and that the A595 between Millom and Furness was impassable.

National Highways said it was also dealing with a large number of stranded vehicles on Saturday evening, particularly on the M6 between J38 and J40.

Cumbria Police issued a number of further road closures and delay warnings just after midnight on Sunday, with the A591 Windermere Road (Plumgarth Roundabout, Kendal) to Wythburn and A5092 between Whicham and Greenodd impassable due to heavy snowbanks and frozen conditions.

Police urged residents to stay indoors and to check the traffic map on the Cumbria Police website if travel is needed.

A number of local community venues have also opened to provide support to those impacted by the heavy snowfall, including Ambleside Parish Centre, Braithwaite Hall and Esthwaite Primary School.

Earlier on Saturday, Cumbria Police said it was aware of multiple reports of vehicles stuck in traffic in the South Lakes area, particularly in the Bowness and Grizedale areas, because of snow.

Superintendent Andy Wilkinson said: “We are continuing to see challenging conditions in Cumbria.

“Agencies across the county have been working hard and will be into the night in response to the impact of heavy snowfall.

“We are aware of a number of incidents in which highway teams and those assisting in the efforts to support those affected by the snow have been verbally abused.

“We understand people’s frustration during this time; however, agencies are working hard to improve the situation in Cumbria and are also facing the challenging road conditions when responding.

“The snow today ended up being much more significant than forecast and the amber warning that was put in place this afternoon is in place until midnight and, with a yellow warning from snow and ice tomorrow, we expect to continue to see challenging road conditions whilst these warning are in place. Therefore, we continue to ask people to not travel and to only do so if absolutely necessary.”

The Met Office had issued an amber warning for snow in Cumbria throughout Saturday, saying 10-15cm of snow is possible in some areas before showers begin to ease overnight.

The weather service added there was a “good chance that some rural communities could become cut off” and power cuts were likely, with the potential for other services, such as mobile phone coverage, to be affected.

National Highways national network manager Dale Hipkiss advised people to be as prepared as possible when on the roads in the wake of multiple vehicles becoming stranded in Cumbria.

He said: “Keeping a kit of essential items like a torch and warm clothes, in your vehicle, can be vital in case you and your passengers become stranded.

“Freezing conditions bring so many hazards such as snow and ice, please take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow extra time when travelling. Keeping a kit of essential items like a torch and warm clothes, in your vehicle, can be vital.”

The Met has also issued a yellow warning for ice from midnight until 11am on Sunday in Cumbria and north Lancashire, stating that a “few snow flurries may continue into the early hours of Sunday, but the main hazard will be refreezing of any melted snow, or freezing of lying snow”.

This warning was extended into more of southwest Scotland and northern England on Saturday evening.

A yellow warning for snow across eastern parts of England expired at 7am.

Ambleside resident Harrison Ward said the snow was the heaviest he had seen during eight years of living in the Cumbrian town, adding that lots of people had abandoned their vehicles on Saturday as they “tried to find refuge”.

Mr Ward, who works as an outdoor cook, told the PA news agency: “It really feels like you’re walking through the Alps or some ski resort at the moment.”

He added: “Once a few cars have stopped or crashed or been abandoned, then it all comes to a halt.

“So we’ve seen complete gridlock through the town with lots of wheel spinning going on – there’s a real smell of burnt clutches in the air.

“Some vehicles moved about 100 metres in an hour’s time.”

One driver said they were stuck between Ambleside and Windermere for more than five hours on Saturday.

The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency: “We’ve had no communication from any of the authorities and we’ve not seen a single gritter trying to free anyone.

“My wife and four-year-old had to walk two miles – there were cars driving on the wrong side of the road that caused more jams.”

The Met Office said Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highland regions of Scotland were likely to see the lowest temperatures on Saturday night, with minus 12C possible in some valleys in these regions.

The weather service has issued a yellow weather warning for snow and ice from 6pm on Saturday to 12pm on Sunday covering much of the Midlands, Yorkshire, the north east and north west of England, and north and central Wales.

It said that while not everywhere will see accumulating snow, some places are likely to see 1-3cm, with 5-10cm possible over some hills and mountains in Wales, the Peak District and South Pennines.

The forecaster said there will probably be icy patches on untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths, resulting in “some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces”.

It warned that some roads and railways are likely to be affected, with longer journey times by road, bus and train.

In Wales, the A470 was closed between Llechwedd, Blaenau Ffestiniog, towards the Crimea Pass due to the weather conditions on Saturday afternoon as North Wales Police told drivers to avoid the area.

The Met Office has also issued a yellow weather warning of ice from midnight until 8am on Sunday for London, the East of England, the West Midlands and parts of South Wales.

The weather service warned that areas of rain or sleet falling on frozen surfaces may lead to icy conditions and some injuries may result from slips and falls.

Glasgow Airport temporarily suspended all flights on Saturday morning, with the transport hub posting on X, formerly Twitter, at 7.24am that it was doing so because of “heavier than forecast snow”.

At 10.20am, the airport posted: “Our runway is now fully operational again and we are working with our airline partners and their handlers to resume flight schedules.”

Flights were also cancelled and delayed at London Stansted Airport because of cold weather conditions on Saturday evening.

The UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office have issued amber cold health alerts in five regions – the East Midlands, West Midlands, North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber – until December 5, meaning “cold weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service for an extended period of time”.

Published: by Radio NewsHub



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