UK weather: Snow blankets motorways, trains and flights cancelled as Beast from the East freeze grips country

Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures swept the UK overnight sparking travel chaos for rush hour commuters across Britain’s road and rail networks.

Police forces across the country issued warnings over treacherous driving conditions as several early morning crashes caused gridlock on motorways on Tuesday morning.

A “number” of stranded lorries blocked the M20 in Kent overnight while a crash closed the A249 in Sittingbourne, Kent Police said.

In the north, areas around Harrogate and Craven were also particularly treacherous, according to North Yorkshire Police.

The Met Office said several centimetres of snow had fallen in some parts over the night – with 1cm in Kent by 5am, and between 3cm and 4cm in Newcastle and Northumberland.

Heavy snowfall is expected to continue throughout the morning and cripple much of the country’s travel network.

Which transport networks are affected?


The A249 in Kent has been shut due to a crash, between junction 7 for the M20 and junction 5 for the M2.

A1231 in the North East was blocked by an overturned lorry near the A182.

The A19 in North Yorkshire was closed after a crash.


Southeastern cancelled dozens of trains, including several to London St Pancras, London Victoria and Cannon Street.

Greater Anglia will be running a limited service, with less frequent and slower services between Norwich and Ipswich and cities such as London and Cambridge.

No trains will run between Norwich and Lowestoft, Felixstowe and Great Yarmouth.

Great Northern will run a limited service between Kings Lynn and Cambridge.

Services between Kings Cross and Ely have been cancelled.

Southern will be running an hourly train service on the London Bridge to Uckfield line, with additional coaches, and a shuttle service between Redhill and Tonbridge.

TfL Rail will run a limited service of six trains per hour between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

c2c is also operating a limited timetable.


British Airways has cancelled dozens of flights from Heathrow Airport.

easyJet said it is expecting disruption to some of its flights and has advised customers to check before they travel.

East Midlands Airport said it was currently fully operational, but warned passengers to monitor updates throughout the day.

Trains have also been affected by the snowfall, with cancellations and disruptions on lines across the country.

Snow blankets a railway station in Higham, Kent (Network Rail)

Southeastern has cancelled dozens of trains, including several to London St Pancras, London Victoria and Cannon Street, while other companies affected include Southern, Greater Anglia and Great Northern.

British Airways has cancelled several flights from Heathrow Airport, while easyJet warned disruption to its flights was expected. School closures were also likely.

Panicked Brits ransacked supermarket shelves in a bid to stock up on supplies.

Shoppers shared images of barren aisles on social media as families stocked up in the wake of the cold snap.

A lorry shed its load on the M20 overnight (Kent Police RPU)

Amber warnings for snow are in place for London and the South East and North East of England and the East Midlands until midday.

A yellow warning covering much of the country is in force until midnight.

Forecasters are predicting 5cm-10cm of snow will fall for most areas of the UK, with up to 40cm possible for higher grounds in Scotland.

Commuters battle cold weather in the capital (Jeremy Selwyn)

Met Office meteorologist Emma Sillitoe said: “During the rush hour there will still be some really heavy showers around, making their way towards London.

“There will also be further disruption throughout the day as these showers become widespread across the country.”

Temperatures plummeted to minus 5C in the capital overnight, and the mercury will struggle to get much above freezing during the day.

Kent Police were forced to close several roads across the county (Kent Police RPU)

Conditions are not likely to improve for several days, with forecasters warning that snow will continue well into the week.

An amber snow warning is in place for the North East of England and Scotland from 6am on Wednesday to 12pm on Thursday, with up to 40cm of snow expected to fall during that period.

Forecaster Frank Saunders said parts of the country could see their “coldest spell of weather since at least 2013, and possibly since 1991”.

It is expected that the mercury could plummet to minus 15C by midweek where there is snow on the ground, rivalling temperatures forecast for parts of northern Norway and Iceland.

From Thursday, forecasters predict that another weather system, Storm Emma, will bring blizzards, gales and sleet as it meets the chilly “Beast from the East” later this week.

The storm, named by the Portuguese Met Service, will move north through Europe and is due to hit the UK on Thursday and Friday, and will be “significantly disruptive”, bringing the risk of power cuts and transport delays.

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