Heavy snow fall disrupts UK transportation and communications

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Monday, February 2, 2009


Image: Nick Farnhill from London, UK.

The heaviest snow to fall for 6 years has caused transport problems in some parts of the United Kingdom, especially in London, where it was the heaviest snow for 18 years. It was caused by cold air travelling westwards towards the British Isles from Poland and Russia. As showers moved across the North Sea towards the east coast of Britain, it fell as snow. Throughout Monday, weather fronts pushed in from the south east in Belgium and France towards the South East of Britain. The weather fronts pushed their way further north and westwards.

Almost a foot (30cm) of snow has fallen in the south-east of England, halting train and bus services and making driving treacherous. Flights to and from London's Heathrow and City airports and the outer London Gatwick and Stansted airports are suffering delays and cancellations. In some affected areas, the majority of schools have been closed.

The centre of London, which usually sees no snow at all most years, has around 4" (10cm) of laying snow, whilst Kent, Sussex and Surrey have up to 10" (25cm). The snow reduces further north but has still disrupted travel, with England's Highways Agency advising against car journeys unless essential. The agency had 500 gritters clearing main roads during the night and 600 motorway patrols out in the morning. Stretches of motorway and main road have been blocked by jack-knifed lorries or closed as a pre-emptive measure.

The snow caused disruption to British transport websites, with National Rail Enquiries, Transport for London and South West Trains websites all brought down by heavy traffic. The Highways Agency's site was also unavailable and returned with interactive features turned off. People calling and texting during the abortive rush hour jammed the mobile telephone networks. Mobile network '3' said it had seen "a very steep jump in the number of picture message sent across the network" whilst T-Mobile UK reported 73% more calls, 21% more texts and 20% more broadband bandwidth being used than usual.

The Met Office has a severe weather warning in place for England, Wales and parts of Scotland, with further snow expected across the country later in the week.


Images

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons has media about United Kingdom February 2009 snow event.

Sources

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