Region braced for more snow

MOTORISTS were today warned to expect further traffic misery following a day of chaos on the region's roads. Heavy snowfall was predicted in many parts of the region overnight, resulting in worsened road conditions and more gridlock for rush hour commuters this morning .

MOTORISTS were today warned to expect further traffic misery following a day of chaos on the region's roads.

Heavy snowfall was predicted in many parts of the region overnight, resulting in worsened road conditions and more gridlock for rush hour commuters this morning .

Gritters were out again yesterday afternoon and were due to return to the roads at 4am this morning to tackle any fresh snow overnight.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: "Our gritters are working really hard and it's all hands to the pump. It is their job and they are well equipped for it."

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She added: "We would ask drivers to take extra care and allow longer journey times as driver behaviour is crucial.

"As the snow continues all we can do is keep gritting. We cannot stop the snow. The operation has worked as we would expect."

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The spokesman said that routes to all main villages, bus routes and schools were being cleared.

East Anglian Daily Times weatherman Ken Blowers said the worst of the weather was expected today but warmer weather should hit the region during the weekend.

"There is going to be considerable snow overnight. This means the snow will quickly go onto the ground after dark.

"There are increasing easterly winds but there is now some sign there might be an improvement by the weekend and instead of being so cold the temperature may be will go up to 39F (4C)."

Despite gritting take place overnight, black ice and snow wreaked havoc yesterday.

The ensuing chaos hampered the emergency services. One ambulance returning from Felixstowe with a medical patient had to be escorted by police the wrong way along the A14.

Numerous diversions were put in place along ungritted roads off the A14 and lorry drivers were advised not to travel. Those already on their way from Felixstowe port had to wait by the Orwell Bridge until it was safe to continue.

There were also reports of dozens of cars sliding off roads around the county, including a lorry that skidded and collided with a tree on the Thetford to Bury St Edmunds road.

The articulated lorry, registered in King's Lynn, left the road at 6.30am at Barnham, just outside Thetford.

Fire engines and police from both Norfolk and Suffolk were called to the scene. It took firefighters half an hour to free the driver, and he was taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening neck and back injuries.

Motorists suffered delays on the A1120 after the road was blocked for more than three hours when a 45-ton lorry carrying bricks skidded on the ice.

The lorry ended up partly in a ditch at Pettaugh, near Stowmarket, after the accident at about 8.50am yesterday. No other vehicles were involved, no-one was injured and the road was clear just after noon.

In a separate incident an Army vehicle ended up on its side on the A14 westbound carriageway between Claydon and Great Blakenham at about 9.05am. No other vehicles were involved and no-one was injured on the accident.

Police in north Suffolk reported a spate of minor accidents during the morning rush-hour yesterday.

The major routes, including the A12, A146 and A145, had been gritted but the heavy snow falls and ice led to many vehicles skidding off rural roads.

"Fortunately none of the accidents reported to us have involved serious injuries," said a north Suffolk police spokesperson.

Many of the main routes in Suffolk had been gritted twice by 8am yesterday morning with principal routes into villages also due to be gritted.

A spokesman for Ipswich Buses said all its services were running fine although it had had a number of bus windows smashed through children throwing snowballs.

Rail commuters faced no significant weather-related delays yesterday, although One spokesman Peter Meades said there would be a reduced service today between Norwich, Ipswich and London.

There will be a broadly half-hour service from Norwich to London, with the first departure at 5.10am from Norwich. From 9am onwards, if the weather is bad, it will be an hourly service throughout the middle part of the day.

Mr Meades said: "We think it is the best way of minimising delays."

However, he said further information would be available on local radio or through the One website and at stations this morning. It will be a normal timetable on local routes.

Essex escaped the worst of the snowy weather which swept across the East of England but the conditions led to a major operation to try to prevent accidents on the roads.

Essex County Council's Highways Department sent out a team of 60 gritter lorries starting at 3am to cover 1,800 miles of the county's roads.

Targeting major routes and key roads, about £35,000 was spent on grit and salt to ensure drivers were able to get out.

A spokesman said: "A huge amount of roads were gritted which would have had a major impact on the safety of those roads and the drivers users them. It was a major operation."

Last night it appeared that their efforts had been successful with Essex policing saying there had not been any serious accidents across the north of the county.

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