Hundreds of cars abandoned on motorway as foot of snow brings parts of England to standstill
Published 26/01/2013 | 11:45
Hundreds of motorists on the M6 motorway in England were forced to abandon their cars in the early hours of Saturday morning when more than a foot of snow brought vehicles to a standstill.
Police gave out hot drinks to those drivers who decided to spend the night in their cars, while snow ploughs struggled throughout the night to clear routes.
Many drivers became stuck along the stretch of motorway between Wigan and Standish, after struggling to make it up inclines in the treacherous conditions, while a number of accidents, including jack-knifed lorries, also blocked lanes.
The Highways Agency closed the M6 overnight in both directions between junctions 25 and 27 near Wigan, after cars and lorries became stuck in the snow.
Lancashire Police said vehicles began moving during the morning, but north and south carriageways remained heavily congested with long tailbacks.
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.”
“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.”
Conservative MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale David Morris, who was stuck on the southbound carriageway, told Sky News: "We've ground to a halt on both sides. Nothing is really moving.
"But the emergency services have been fantastic and are doing the best for us, and everyone is in good spirits.
"I've just seen a snowball fight and the man next door to me has built a snowman on top of his car roof - it's very surreal."
Jason Barr, who was stranded in his car for much of the night, said: “The only information we’re getting at the moment is stay in your cars. If you have enough fuel, keep your engines on to keep your heating on.
“I’m quite lucky, I’ve got some water, some food. I’ve got a charger for my phone and some spare fuel in my back, so I’m quite well prepared.
“But I do imagine there’s other people a little bit worse off than me. I mean, I’ve tried to get past certain cars and there’s people that have given up and are asleep in the middle of the lanes, in their cars.”
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.”
In North Yorkshire a husband and wife had to be rescued from a snow drift on the North York Moors after a breakdown company refused to attend.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire fire service aid: “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.
Elsewhere, all flights were suspended at Leeds Bradford International Airport as the fresh blanket of snow covered most of the Yorkshire region.
The Met Office has issued 12 amber warnings from the Midlands up to central England, and the public are urged to prepare for likely disruption caused by heavy snow.
As snow begins to melt in other areas across the UK and heavy rain begins to set in, weather experts have warned about flooding.
Forecasters said temperatures will steadily rise to an average of 4C later before reaching more than 10C in the south on Sunday followed by wet and windy weather next week.
In southwest Wales, emergency services are already responding to a rise in calls as roads and properties become flooded.
There are also reports of flooding on the M5 between junction 25 for Taunton and junction 26.