Snow set to stay until weekend

IT came two days too late for Christmas - but now the snow and cold weather which hit East Anglia yesterday is expected to last until the end of the week.

By Roddy Ashworth

IT came two days too late for Christmas - but now the snow and cold weather which hit East Anglia yesterday is expected to last until the end of the week.

People across Suffolk and Essex woke to find a festive sprinkling of the white stuff outside their homes yesterday morning and more is expected to follow over the next three days - with as much as three inches predicted in some places.

And while others quite rightly enjoy the seasonal surroundings - turning their hands to a spot of sledging, the odd snowball fight and creating the occasional snowman - police chiefs and road bosses are urging motorists to take the utmost care in the freezing conditions.

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EADT weatherman Ken Blowers said the wintry downpour first started overnight on Boxing Daywhen temperatures reached a peak of 2C (36F) and around one inch on snow fell in Ipswich.

He said: “At the moment East Anglia is in a very cold air stream which originated in western Russia and Siberia. That air stream is coming in from the north east and will bring in snow showers off the North Sea.

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“As a result we will have a sprinkling of snow showers over the next three days until Friday but between these showers there will be sunny intervals and clear skies.

“Some of the snow will be heavy and if it falls after dark that is when we may well see problems because it will make driving conditions treacherous as temperatures will be as low as -1C (30F).

“However there is a glimmer of hope for the end of the week towards New Year's Eve because it will be slightly warmer, with a weather system moving in from the south west.”

Meanwhile the Highways Agency has assured drivers that gritters will continue to be out in force throughout the region to prevent roads becoming too treacherous.

A spokesman advised drivers to check for up-to-date information on weather and road conditions before they set off and to delay their journeys until the weather improves if possible.

He said: “If people do have to go out they should take extra care and make sure they are well equipped with warm clothes, boots, a de-icer, a spade and a scraper as well as food and drink.

“The gritting of the roads has all gone to plan. We had gritting teams out overnight treating the main roads and this work will continue throughout the day on an ongoing basis according to where it is needed.”

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said there had been no reports of weather related accidents but urged motorists to only venture out on to the roads if absolutely necessary.

He said: “It is the same every year when we have snow and we would expect motorists to drive according to the conditions. It is important they drive with care and that they give themselves more time than usual to reach their destination.”

In Essex it was a similar story. Heather Watts, who travelled to Chelmsford from South Woodham Ferrers, said the snow was beginning to fall when she left her house at around 7.30am.

“It did cover the roofs but it began to melt very quickly,” she said.

Michael Page, from Walton on the Naze, said that the snow had made conditions treacherous on the roads early in the day but by 10.30am the sun was shining and most of the snow was melting.

“It is a beautiful day, very cold, crisp and sunny. People are walking up to the Naze and enjoying a lovely day,” he added.

However, officers at Stanway Road Traffic Policing Unit warned motorists not to travel unless it was strictly necessary.

“All the main roads are clear, but although they are passable with care they still remain icy and slippery. “In conditions like this we would advise people not to drive unless it is absolutely necessary. If people must drive, they should keep their speed down and keep a good distance from the vehicle in front.”

A spokesman for Bocking Road Traffic Policing Unit said that one lane of the A120 had to be shut at Galley's Corner, near Braintree, after a vehicle suffered an electrical fault.

There were also several minor accidents on the A12 near Kelvedon, he added.

A spokeswoman for Stansted Airport said no hold-ups had been caused there by yesterday morning's snowfall.

And a spokesman for One railways also said that none of its services were affected by the morning's wintry conditions.

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