Galleries: Snow blankets region, more to come

Snow fell in Suffolk today - while a severe weather warning was issued for the entire county.

Annie Davidson

THE first flakes of a predicted 15cms snowfall fell on Ipswich today as a severe weather warning was issued for the entire county.

Widespread disruption was expected in the county and in neighbouring Essex with the snow, predicted by the Met Office, due to hit between 11am and 5pm.

As temperatures plunged overnight to -2C, snow was reported in Shotley and Felixstowe early this morning as well as in Essex.

By 12.30pm Ipswich was seeing its first snowfall with bitter temperatures of -4C forecast for tonight.

A severe weather warning has also been issued for tomorrow with the overnight freezing temperature predicted to cause chaos for drivers.

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Shortly before 1pm, a two-vehicle crash was reported in Martlesham Heath.

An Audi and a Ford Smax collided in Deben Avenue but no-one was injured.

John Law, from Norwich-based forecasters Weatherquest, said: “The temperature will be around freezing for most places today and the wind will be quite blustery at times so it will feel very cold.

“Everyone needs to layer up in warm clothes.”

With more snow on the way, the county has cut back on the number of roads being gritted in an attempt to ensure it does not run out of salt.

Suppliers are switching their grit to the north where councils are starting to run out, forcing Suffolk to ration its gritting to main routes.

County council transport spokesman Guy McGregor said gritting teams had been working round the clock since the cold snap began in Mid-December - and supplies were now starting to feel the strain.

Police were called at 9.15am to Garrison Lane, Felixstowe, where motorists were struggling to drive over a railway bridge because of the icy conditions.

In Essex, police were advising drivers to only travel if absolutely necessary as much of the county was covered by snow.

Since 6am the force had dealt with 50 weather-related incidents including minor road accidents and complaints about anti-social snowballing.

A spokeswoman for the force said some roads in the west and north of the county were “virtually impassable” with Maldon also being affected.

There were also problems on the A12 just north of Witham although the carriageway was beginning to clear by lunchtime.

Operational commander, Chief Insp Richard Phillibrown, said: “The weather forecast is for the snow to continue through until this evening when we will then experience freezing temperatures and ice-related problems begin to play their part.

“Our advice to people is not to travel unless absolutely necessary, with children who are off school asked to be considerate with their play in the snow.

“If anyone does have to take to the roads, then they should take a charged mobile telephone, a blanket and a hot drink.”

One of the minor accidents was on Clingoe Hill between Colchester and Wivenhoe which was shut because of the treacherous conditions which saw a car crash into a ditch at about 9am.

A rubbish truck and a car collided in snowy conditions in Old Hall Lane, Tolleshunt D'arcy, at 9.08am. It is not thought that anyone was seriously injured.

A car also went into a ditch in West Hanningfield Road, Great Baddow, at 9.22am although no-one was hurt.

And in Red Rose Lane, Blackmore, a driver escaped injury when their car overturned at 9.30am.

Trains were said to be largely unaffected with delays of ten minutes in some places.

Nationally Gatwick Airport was forced to close overnight due to heavy snowfall, with flights at Luton, Birmingham and Southampton also being suspended.

Budget airline easyJet said it had cancelled more than 70 services, from airports including Gatwick, Bristol, Belfast, Newcastle and Luton.

A total of 34 flights from Gatwick had been scrapped, as well as 15 from Luton.

Stansted Airport in Essex expected flights to run as normal but warned passengers to take plenty of time to get to the airport.

Passengers at Heathrow, Glasgow and Leeds Bradford International also faced delayed flights.

Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey were worst affected areas, although the north of England had fresh snowfalls and a serious accident blocked the A1 in North Yorkshire.

Dozens of drivers were trapped in the cars for several hours on the normally busy A3 between Guildford and Portsmouth.

And an elderly driver was killed in a blizzard, at Titchfield, Hampshire.