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Trains cancelled and traffic chaos – winter's here again

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 19, 2013

  • This Vauxhall van was involved in a collision with a car at Haldon Hill, Exeter

  • Nia Addy and her daughter Luka have fun in the snow on Dartmoor, near Holne PICTURE: STEVEN HAYWOOD

  • Lola the dog enjoys a play in the snow at Exeter Racecourse

  • A driver peers out through a snow-covered windscreen in Plymouth

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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.

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  • Torbaymik  |  January 20 2013, 12:36PM

    its January, get over it

    |   6
  • Bilge11  |  January 19 2013, 10:01PM

    thisisexeter has to be the worst forum that I visit. Sorry for the double post. I posted my comment, was told the 'couldn't add your comment because the server had timed out', or some such. I reposted and find that I've double posted. Doh!

    |   2
  • jyppo  |  January 19 2013, 12:59PM

    I heeded all the warnings yesterday and followed the advice given before i set off on my journey.Sleeping bag,jump leads,flask, extra dry clothing and de icer.I felt a right pirrock sat on the bus with everyone staring at me.

    |   15
  • unhappysteveo  |  January 19 2013, 12:52PM

    That dumbo in the fourth picture is an accident aiting to happen, as soon as they have to brake the snow on the top of the window will drop down and thy wont be able to see anything. You should clear off all the snow from your windows and roof before setting off.

    |   18
  • Bilge11  |  January 19 2013, 12:51PM

    Agree with the above, what's all the fuss. Left Exeter on Friday at 6.30 am, drove to Plymouth, took 20 mins longer than usual. Bit of snow and slush. No problems, just drove according to conditions. According to Radio Devon, Haldon Hill was barely passable, where do these people come from, talk about media frenzy/hype/over excitement. Also, what's this about the 'freezing' conditions? It's January! Even out on the moors it's only the normal January temperatures. Back in '63, I can remember having to walk to school, 7 yr olds had to wear shorts, and the snow was over the tops of my wellies. How on earth did we survive walking to school in such conditions with just our mates (no parental escort) for company? It was 'only' about half a mile. The majority of 7yo kids these days would struggle to walk that far on a summers day

    |   7
  • Bilge11  |  January 19 2013, 12:48PM

    Agree with the above, what's all the fuss. Left Exeter on Friday at 6.30 am, drove to Plymouth, took 20 mins longer than usual. Bit of snow and slush. No problems, just drove according to conditions. According to Radio Devon, Haldon Hill was barely passable, where do these people come from, talk about media frenzy/hype/over excitement. Also, what's this about the 'freezing' conditions? It's January! Even out on the moors it's only the normal January temperatures. Back in '63, I can remember having to walk to school, 7 yr olds had to wear shorts, and the snow was over the tops of my wellies. How on earth did we survive walking to school in such conditions with just our mates (no parental escort) for company? It was 'only' about half a mile. The majority of 7yo kids these days would struggle to walk that far on a summers day

    |   10
  • Chopper8  |  January 19 2013, 12:47PM

    From this article ; ''Hundreds of schools closed for the day in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset '' ONE school closed in Cornwall, so why doesn't the report just say ''Devon and Somerset' ? Oh of course, this is the Northcliffe owned WMN where the law states that 'Cornwall' must never be mentioned without first being prefixed by 'Devon and'' or included as part of some artificial, meaningless ''Westcountry'' construct. God forbid Cornwall should ever be thought of as a stand alone region in it's own right!

    |   -12
  • iseveryidused  |  January 19 2013, 12:17PM

    Hahahaha! It was probably caused by this guy taking pictures whilst driving in the outside lane of a duel carriageway in snowy conditions :-) http://tinyurl.com/ay99cph

    |   1
  • Sinjis_Things  |  January 19 2013, 11:11AM

    I saw some pictures, taken in Torquay, recently of the snow in the winter of 1962/63 and there was much more snow than in any of the pictures I've seen recently on the news. Also there wasn't as much fuss as there is now and people got on with their lives as best as they could.

    |   10
  • iseveryidused  |  January 19 2013, 9:25AM

    I must admit, I was surprised to see gritters out last night on the A38, between Plymouth an Paignton. It was pouring with rain and showing 3 to 4 degrees. If grit/salt is used now, we will run out before it is genuinely needed (shock). If people aren't happy or confident driving in snow, then don't, not difficult is it? Also, isn't it about time they opened a depot at Haldon Hill? There are always incidents there, makes sense to have highway maintenance facilities close by equipped to handle such eventualities.

    |   18

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