Tuesday, February 5, 2013

UK: Whiteout...Winter To Roar Back In With A Vengeance

UK Express) BRITAIN is braced for a near nationwide whiteout as winter roars back with a vengeance today.  The entire country faces another big freeze to bring a 10-inch deluge of snow while temperatures plunge to -15C (5F). The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for snow and ice across the entire UK last night (Monday) and into today.

 A more serious amber weather warning for snow is in place across the North-west and parts of central England.  overnment officials also issued a week-long cold weather health alert warning extreme weather could pose a risk to the elderly and vulnerable. They warned bitter gales sweeping in from the North Pole and Canada will send thermometers plunging across the UK.

Met Office spokesman Alison Richards said:

“Wintry showers are due to slip south throughout Tuesday and there are going to be some very strong winds...We have two systems coming into the UK from the West and the Arctic regions, nowhere should be surprised to see snow.
 There is also a risk of ice due to the extreme cold, with another cold weather front due to move in on Friday.”
Worst hit by the snow will be the North and central England which are braced for blizzards, Arctic gales and deep drifting snow. The entire country can expect wintry showers with freezing temperatures and harsh frosts turning roads and pavements into lethal ice rinks. More than 2,000 gritting lorries were expected to hit the roads last night (Monday) while Network Rail prepared de-icing trains and snowplough-fitted locomotives. Airports including London’s Heathrow, which cancelled 1,000 flights due to snow last month were last night briefing staff and had snowploughs on standby.

Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said Britain faces a repeat of last month’s big freeze which brought roads, railways and airports to a standstill. He said much of the country can expect snow with fierce 100pmh Arctic winds whipping up deep snowdrifts. He said:
“The snow is set to arrive through Monday night and into Tuesday. This is a very severe blast from the Arctic with winds easily touching 100mph and up to 10 inches of snow in parts.

“In the winds it is going to feel bitterly cold with -15C very possible, and apart from a brief lull, this is how it looks for the rest of the week.”
Piers Corbyn, forecaster for WeatherAction said Britain is braced for a “severe cold blast” with winds leading to foot-deep snow drifts. He said:
“This is another blast which will bring significant snow with winds leading to deep drifts, a foot or more is possible. We are expecting this to last through the week, there are some very cold temperatures on the way.
 “The level of snow and ice likely to affect the country will be disruptive and people should prepare for the impact of this cold spell.”
 The Met Office said parts of the country can expect six inches of snow to fall in the early hours of today sparking rush hour mayhem. The RAC said it is prepared for chaos with heavy snow and freezing temperatures expected to make grit useless.  Spokesman Simon Williams said:

“Heavy snow just before rush-hour is the worst-case scenario for gritters as salt has little or not effect on heavy snow without traffic grinding it into snow cover. Chaotic conditions are expected in affected areas.”

The AA warned drivers to take extra care on the roads and keep up with local weather reports. Spokesman Gavin Hill-Smith said:

 “We are always more busy during bad weather and are advising motorists to drive carefully and be prepared for bad weather. Roads may have been gritted but at -9Cn (16F) it becomes ineffective.

“Because it has been mild recently, people may be unaware of the weather and unprepared for road conditions.”
Peter Box, Chairman of the Local Government’s Economy and Transport Board, said:
“Gritting teams will be out in force where snow and freezing temperatures have been predicted to try and ensure main roads remain passable. Tens of thousands of tonnes of salt were spread during the January cold snap, but there are still hundreds of thousands of tonnes in council depots and more deliveries were expected last month.”
Winter has already returned to parts of Britain this week with several inches of falling across Scotland and the North. The region was blighted by power cuts yesterday as 120mph hurricane-force winds hit with 60ft waves recorded off the Lewis, Western Isles. Cairngorm ski centre was shut for the second time after 120mph winds hit, according to the Met Office.

Half-a-dozen schools were shut in the Western Isles and 23 west coast ferries were cancelled or disrupted. Almost 200 homes in the Western Isles suffered power cuts after electricity cables were damaged.

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