Heavy snowfall and high winds brought highways to a standstill overnight, with “hundreds and hundreds” of motorists stuck in their cars in freezing conditions.
Storm Larisa is set to return to parts of the UK with storms and snowstorms today as this week’s cold snap continues.
The Met Office has issued three amber alerts for northern England, the Midlands, North Wales and Northern Ireland, where “significant disruptions” to transport and electricity are expected.
Four amber snow warnings also cover the rest of the nation, with the exception of south-east England and western Scotland.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said the worst weather is expected in north-west Wales and northern England, where “gusts of a gentle 50mph” are on a collision course with “30 to 40cm of snow”.
Mr Burkill said: “The combination of heavy snow and storm is why we are likely to see blizzards and blowing snow, creating additional hazards on the roads.
“Very difficult, treacherous conditions will prevail in places covered by amber warnings.
“Ideally avoid travel during these periods – but if you do need to make the journey then be aware that journeys can take significantly longer.”
Traffic on the M62 came to a standstill in the early hours of Friday morning due to heavy snowfall in the area.
National Highways: North-West said congestion on the eastbound M62 stretched for about eight miles at one point between Rochdale and Saddleworth.
Kelly-Marie Prentice was stuck on the motorway for six hours and told Sky News there were “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of other vehicles.
“It’s being hampered by the fact that people have been driving in closed lanes and on the hard shoulder, which has prevented the recovery vehicles and snowplows from getting through to clear everything,” she added.
“We try to keep ourselves as lively as possible and not thinking about going to the bathroom or having a drink.
“We’re just trying to stay positive and really hoping everyone is staying safe.”
Ms Prentice said they managed to keep the heaters warm and took coats and blankets with them “so we were well prepared”.
Several roads have been closed in Wales, with warnings of “extremely difficult driving conditions” in northern and central areas.
The National Highways issued a “severe weather alert” for snow in the Northeast, Northwest and Midlands regions through 8am Friday Friday, warning motorists not to drive unless their journey is essential.
East Midlands Airport temporarily closed its runway due to heavy snowfall.
Thursday night temperatures will be similar to Wednesday, which was the coldest night of the year, before even colder conditions set in on Friday night.
Mr Burkill said areas in the highlands could see minus 17C after this year’s record low of minus 16C was recorded in Altnaharra in the region.
Weather is expected to clear by the end of Friday before being replaced by another low pressure area, resulting in another yellow snow and ice warning for much of northern England from 3pm Saturday to 6am Sunday and Scotland’s leads.
“We’ll then see another low pressure area, more fronts moving inward,” meteorologist Jonathan Vautrey said.
“So another yellow snow and ice warning was issued for Scotland from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, extending into northern England where we saw further snowfall throughout the weekend.
“And then it also seems to remain restless as the new week begins.”
The Met Office’s amber snow alert for England lasts until noon on Friday, covering major cities including Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds.
A yellow snow and ice warning is in effect across Wales from midday to 9am on Friday, stretching from the north coast to Radnorshire.
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/10/blizzards-wreak-havoc-with-50mph-winds-and-15-inches-of-snow-forecast-18418503/ Thousands stuck in cars after snowstorms brought M62 to a standstill