Trains cancelled and traffic chaos – winter's here again
Heavy snow and blizzard conditions have brought chaos to the Westcountry with icy conditions set to bring more trouble this weekend.
A blanket of deep snow covered vast swathes of Devon yesterday, cancelling flights and trains and shutting major roads.
After escaping much of winter's grip, the South West proved to be one of the worst affected regions in the UK after more than six inches of snow fell in some areas overnight yesterday.
Hundreds of schools closed for the day in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset while bus and coach services were also affected.
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The Exeter-based Met Office issued a yellow warning telling people to "be aware" of ice today and tomorrow.
Flooding presented more problems in Cornwall where the Environment Agency issued an alert for the West Cornwall rivers.
Hazardous driving conditions affected numerous roads, including a 30-mile section of the M5 from Exeter to Wellington where one lane became unusable, the A38 at Haldon Hill and A380 at Telegraph Hill, near Exeter, after a tree fell on the highgway. A section of the North Devon Link Road in Rackenford was shut because of snow and a jack-knifed lorry.
A number of South West Train services were cancelled ahead of the snow while other passengers faced rearranged timetables. There were no rail services between Liskeard and Plymouth in Devon.
Devon County Council teams worked throughout the night to keep nearly all routes open by using gritter vehicles and snow ploughs. But one of its gritters managed to crash into a ditch on the A3123 near Combe Martin.
Hundreds of volunteer snow wardens were put on standby to help their local communities in Devon as part of the county council's "snow plan".
Devon's Air Ambulances remained on duty yesterday despite the challenging weather conditions.
Emergency response charities in Somerset worked together to provide 4x4 support for snowbound cancer patients needing vital treatment.
In Cornwall gritters were expected out on the roads in the north and east of the county at around 4am this morning due to the likelihood of standing water that could freeze.
Staff from council contractors Cormac were monitoring the situation.
A spokesman for the council, said: "Salting of roads is a precautionary treatment to reduce the freezing point of water in frosty conditions and is designed to reduce the possibility of skidding or more serious accidents.
"However, it is important to remember that even on pre- treated roads salting will not stop heavy snow from settling and sleet, hail and rain can cause problems with the salt being washed off the road.
"It will also not prevent the formation of black ice when rain falls on sub zero roads."
Snow fell too yesterday morning on Bodmin Moor and in the Liskeard area, in the south east of the county.
Conditions for drivers proved testing around Kit Hill, near Callington.
But it was heavy rain which caused the most disruption in Cornwall yesterday.
Roads in the west were deluged with water and a flood alert was issued by the Environment Agency for rivers in the area.
In recent weeks the heavy rain has seen floods in Land's End, Helston, Crowlas, St Ives, Hayle, Camborne and Perranporth with more possibly on the way.
A blocked line between St Erth and St Ives due to flooding was reported by staff at First Great Western yesterday while three cars got stuck in water near St Ives.
Environment Agency chiefs issued 17 flood warnings across the South West.