The deep freeze: Temperatures plunge to -12C, as man 'living in car freezes to death', with snow causing travel chaos

3 December 2023, 07:49

Temperatures have plummeted in Britain
Temperatures have plummeted in Britain. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Temperatures have fallen even further in Britain overnight, with some parts of the country reaching -12C, as snow wreaked havoc on the travel network and one man was said to have frozen to death in his car.

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Yellow weather warnings for snow and ice remain in place for the north west of England, the Midlands, the south, and parts of Wales and Scotland.

The Met Office issued a more serious amber warning for snow and ice for Cumbria that lasted until midnight on Sunday.

Meanwhile temperatures fell to -12C in Scotland, with freezing temperatures observed overnight for much of the rest of the UK.

The wintry conditions also caused travel disruption, as several people got stuck in their cars in the treacherous road conditions, while trains were cancelled and Stansted Airport grounded some flights.

Read more: Snow chaos across UK as icy blasts causes widespread disruption, as Manchester United's flight to Newcastle axed

Read more: UK snow: Cold health alerts issued as snow blankets parts of UK

Heavy fog and mist begins to roll in over east London with Canary Wharf business park buildings visible over the Thames
Heavy fog and mist begins to roll in over east London with Canary Wharf business park buildings visible over the Thames. Picture: Alamy

The man who died was said to have been living in his car in Nottingham. One resident told Mail Online after his death: "People tried to get help for the poor guy in the past. What an awful and tragic waste of a life.

"What is society coming to when a homeless person can freeze to death on a street in Britain?" Police did not confirm this detail, saying instead that they were responding to a "sudden death".

Elsewhere, Cumbria Police urged people not to travel to area on Sunday because of snow and icy roads, as it declared a major incident.

In a post on social media, Cumbria Police said on Saturday: "A yellow weather warning for ice is in place for tomorrow morning which will have a continued impact on Cumbria's roads.

A gritter lorry on Saturday
A gritter lorry on Saturday. Picture: Getty

"We would also urge people not to travel to the county tomorrow unless necessary."

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service said it was using 4 x 4 vehicles to help "vulnerable people stuck in the snow as required".

Cumbria Police said the M6 southbound between J38 and J37 was blocked on Saturday due to jackknifed lorries and that the A595 between Millom and Furness was impassable.

National Highways said it was also dealing with a large number of stranded vehicles on Saturday evening, particularly on the M6 between J38 and J40.

Cumbria Police issued a number of further road closures and delay warnings just after midnight on Sunday, with the A591 Windermere Road (Plumgarth Roundabout, Kendal) to Wythburn and A5092 between Whicham and Greenodd impassable due to heavy snowbanks and frozen conditions.

A derelict barn sits in the fog and snow at Mill Farm on December 02, 2023 in Bodsham, United Kingdom
A derelict barn sits in the fog and snow at Mill Farm on December 02, 2023 in Bodsham, United Kingdom. Picture: Getty

Police urged residents to stay indoors and to check the traffic map on the Cumbria Police website if travel is needed.

A number of local community venues have also opened to provide support to those impacted by the heavy snowfall, including Ambleside Parish Centre, Braithwaite Hall and Esthwaite Primary School.

On Saturday, Cumbria Police said it was aware of multiple reports of vehicles stuck in traffic in the South Lakes area, particularly in the Bowness and Grizedale areas, because of snow.

Superintendent Andy Wilkinson said: "We are continuing to see challenging conditions in Cumbria," adding that officers are working hard to get people unstuck.

"We are aware of a number of incidents in which highway teams and those assisting in the efforts to support those affected by the snow have been verbally abused.

Windermere Village Cumbria
Windermere Village Cumbria. Picture: Alamy

"We understand people's frustration during this time; however, agencies are working hard to improve the situation in Cumbria and are also facing the challenging road conditions when responding.

"The snow today ended up being much more significant than forecast and the amber warning that was put in place this afternoon is in place until midnight and, with a yellow warning from snow and ice tomorrow, we expect to continue to see challenging road conditions whilst these warning are in place. Therefore, we continue to ask people to not travel and to only do so if absolutely necessary."

The Met Office had issued an amber warning for snow in Cumbria throughout Saturday, saying 10-15cm of snow is possible in some areas before showers begin to ease overnight.

People play in the snow in Victoria Park in Glasgow
People play in the snow in Victoria Park in Glasgow. Picture: Getty

The weather service added there was a "good chance that some rural communities could become cut off" and power cuts were likely, with the potential for other services, such as mobile phone coverage, to be affected.

National Highways national network manager Dale Hipkiss advised people to be as prepared as possible when on the roads in the wake of multiple vehicles becoming stranded in Cumbria.

He said: "Keeping a kit of essential items like a torch and warm clothes, in your vehicle, can be vital in case you and your passengers become stranded.

"Freezing conditions bring so many hazards such as snow and ice, please take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow extra time when travelling. Keeping a kit of essential items like a torch and warm clothes, in your vehicle, can be vital."

The Met has also issued a yellow warning for ice from midnight until 11am on Sunday in Cumbria and north Lancashire, stating that a "few snow flurries may continue into the early hours of Sunday, but the main hazard will be refreezing of any melted snow, or freezing of lying snow".

This warning was extended into more of southwest Scotland and northern England on Saturday evening.

Glasgow. Picture: Alamy

A yellow warning for snow across eastern parts of England expired at 7am.

Ambleside resident Harrison Ward said the snow was the heaviest he had seen during eight years of living in the Cumbrian town, adding that lots of people had abandoned their vehicles on Saturday as they "tried to find refuge".

Mr Ward, who works as an outdoor cook, told the PA news agency: "It really feels like you're walking through the Alps or some ski resort at the moment."

He added: "Once a few cars have stopped or crashed or been abandoned, then it all comes to a halt.

"So we've seen complete gridlock through the town with lots of wheel spinning going on - there's a real smell of burnt clutches in the air.

"Some vehicles moved about 100 metres in an hour's time."

Glasgow. Picture: Getty

One driver said they were stuck between Ambleside and Windermere for more than five hours on Saturday.

The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency: "We've had no communication from any of the authorities and we've not seen a single gritter trying to free anyone.

"My wife and four-year-old had to walk two miles - there were cars driving on the wrong side of the road that caused more jams."

Stansted Airport said on Saturday evening: "Cold weather conditions are impacting some of our airlines, causing some delays or cancellations.

"As a result our terminal is busier than usual. Our teams are on hand to ensure as smooth an experience as possible for you.

"If you are due to travel this evening or tomorrow morning, please check with your airline for up-to-date information, and allow for extra time for your journey to the airport."