UK & World News
Weather: Snow And Ice Causes Heathrow Misery
The UK's busiest airport has been forced to cut its flight schedule by 20% as the country's transport network continues to struggle with freezing weather conditions.
Heathrow Airport in west London said it was reducing the number of flights scheduled for Sunday by at least a fifth after forecasters predicted another 2-6cm of snow and low visibility in the area.
Passengers are being urged to check with their airlines before travelling to the airport - where bosses are warning weather conditions at other European airports could further decimate schedules.
Passengers at Heathrow have been facing disruption after many were stranded on planes for seven hours or forced to spend a night on the floor.
More than 100 Saturday flights were cancelled and travellers complained about check-in queues of up to two hours as staff battled to clear a backlog caused by 400 cancellations on Friday.
Elsewhere, drivers are being warned of treacherous conditions after heavy snow on Friday across much of Britain turned to ice overnight.
A young woman from Peterborough was killed in a crash involving a number of vehicles shortly after 6pm on Friday, Lincolnshire Police said.
It is not known if anyone else was injured in the accident, which happened in bad weather on the A1 at Little Ponton, near Grantham.
Humberside Fire and Rescue said seven passengers were taken to hospital after a double-decker bus collided with two cars and ploughed into a garden.
In Edinburgh, a 16-year-old broke his leg when his sledge ran out of control and he plunged down a 150ft embankment.
The Met Office is forecasting more snow for Sunday and has issued yellow warnings for ice for large swathes of the country and a severe red warning for South Wales, which has experienced some of the worst weather.
:: Are you stuck at Heathrow? Contact the Sky news desk on firstname.lastname@example.org.
With more heavy snow possible on Sunday, the Highways Agency has said its fleet of snow ploughs and gritters will be out in force throughout the weekend.
Heathrow said its runways were open on Saturday with no restrictions, but services were still being disrupted following Friday's heavy snow.
Of 104 flights cancelled on Saturday, 100 were with British Airways, which has faced criticism for its handling of the disruption so far.
Husband and wife David and Janet Brindle, from Cumbria, branded BA's customer service and treatment of passengers caught up in the chaos as "appalling" and said some people had been close to tears.
The couple sat on a plane at Manchester airport from 9am until 3pm on Friday and have been stuck at Heathrow since missing their connecting flight to New Zealand.
Mrs Brindle said: "They got us off the plane but our bags weren't off. Not a single person came to tell us what was happening.
"Most people missed their connecting long-haul flights from Heathrow. We were advised to make our own way to Heathrow, so that's what we did.
"Nobody knew what they were doing. They couldn't tell us anything - they were quite rude, actually."
A British Airways spokesman said: "We have unfortunately had to make a number of cancellations today, mainly due to knock-on disruption from yesterday.
"So we've got a number of aircraft out of position and it's quite a complex operation to put that back together."
BA says it is offering customers who no longer wish to travel this weekend the chance to rebook their flight at a later date and providing refunds and overnight accommodation, or letters to make a claim, to those who could not fly.
Some passengers on British Airways flights told Sky News that they have spent up to seven hours on aircraft which have never left the runway.
Sky Reporter Clare Fallon, at Heathrow, said: "It's a surreal sight, there are hundreds of people on the floor trying to get some sleep because they are essentially stranded here. Some have told me they have been here since 11am yesterday morning.
"People feel very frustrated and stressed, and they don't understand how a relatively small amount of snow has been able to cause so much chaos."
A Gatwick spokeswoman said the airport was operating as normal on Saturday, with 505 flights scheduled and no knock-on effect from earlier bad weather.
In Northern Ireland, around 2,400 homes were left without electricity after the severe weather caused power cuts along the east Down coast.
The Highways Agency said several motorway lanes and major A roads had closed due to the snow and ice, as well as several crashes.
Drivers have been warned to be extra careful as freezing temperatures turn the snow to treacherous ice.
The deepest snowfall has been measured at 26cm in Sennybridge, Wales, although snow has been thawing in other areas and some train services have been returning to normal.
There have also been severe hold-ups for rail passengers, with many companies cancelling services to help them cope with problems caused by the weather.
Eurostar passengers faced delays of up to 30 minutes due to speed restrictions in France and Virgin Trains cancelled a number of services from London to Birmingham to Manchester, while others were delayed.
But while commuters have been facing misery, the winter wonderland scenes have brought joy to thousands of youngsters who got a long weekend after schools were forced to shut.
The weather also disrupted the sporting calendar, with six football matches in League One, eight in League Two and six in Scotland postponed.
Race meetings at Ascot and Haydock were also called off.
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Heavy snow is once again expected across the North East and Scotland, while other areas will see patchier coverage.
On Sunday, between 2-5cm of snow is predicted for the South East, the Midlands, East Anglia and Lincolnshire.
Darron Burness, from the AA, said commuting in the wintry conditions was "likely to test man and machine".
Those who decide to travel have been urged to travel prepared with a fully charged mobile phone, warm waterproof clothes, boots and a blanket, some food and drink, and have a torch, ice scraper, de-icer and a shovel.
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what do you think?
Hands up all those passengers who want to risk flying in a plane with the wings icing up? Thought not!! De-icing the wings on the ground does not guarantee they won't ice up again once airborne.
I was thinking same thing yesterday while watching itv news at 6.30
Moonfleet. The leading edge of a wing is heated . Once the engines are running at full speed , it is unlikely the wings will freeze. Aircraft normall cruise above the weather where it is in the minus degrees , anyway. Wings are built for low temps
why every year we get a little snow.we close down..norway 3 ft of snow and nothing..
You cant compare us to norway in any way.when did you last buy your wife a new set of skis for xmas, as they do in norway like we do a pair of shoes.do you keep skis and snowshoes in your car.i dont think so.do you have a sledge in you garage.i dont think so.have you a dog to pull that sledge, i dont think so.
Its just a myth other countries dont suffer during snow just look at the news in pictures section and see people sleeping at Munich airport due to cancellations. Also population of Norway 5 million Uk 62 million im sure getting about here in bad conditions would not be such a problem with the same population as them.
My friend lives in ontario, canada 6ft again nothing stops..They have snow plows reg though
David - use your very limited intelligence for once. Many other airports in Europe have trouble with snow. Frankfurt airport was shut for nealr ytwo days before Christmas for example. Heathrow is no different than other airpirt that have snow trouble except for the fact it handes many many more planes, only has two runways and a very small footprint
Ok sunshine, so you have some knowledge about airport operations, and their capacity . Where do you get off telling David, he is of limited intelligence, just because you are more informed in a certain subject. Your arrogance suggests you believe yourself to be intelligent. It's usually not the case.
I love the AA comment about commuting . Likely to test man and machine ? Maybe if your morning commute is to Siberia , not Scunthorpe.
Why do peaple keep comparing us to northern europe when we have a very different weather system given to us by the atlantic ocean.also people also continually want to blame the met office which will never be an exact science but they have done good job on warning us of what to expect.they gave a red warning for south wales and got it spot on.they get heavily critisized when they get it wrong but we should also give them credit for when they get it right.again we shouldnt critisize heathrow or other public transport in these conditions.what do you want, put peaple lives at risk because of the delays at heathrow or even railway stations.if a plane should crash we would then question as to why a plane took off in such bad conditions.
Well said , the folk who come out with the same old " "others cope" comments have proberly never been out of the UK to see for themselves that in Central Europe airports close, traffic clogs up and trains are cancelled during snow just as they are here.
I lived in norway for a while and the tempertures can get down to - 40 and have an average of - 4 .the road and railways are blocked for a lot of the time and they rely on the hurtigruten ferry which sails every day up and down the coast to bring in supplies.when theres stormy weather these ferrys dont sail then the situation can become quite serious.peaple that havent been there dont even realise that its dark for most of the day. To compare us to norway in winter is like to compare our summers to that of australia
How many teams of huskys do you see running around britain, for heavens sake.it would be a novelty here but they are a nessessity in norway.
I have recently flown back from Prague. They did actually de-ice the plane whilst we sat on it. We did make it home safely I am pleased to say. As David has posted, other countries manage snow, why cant we. I sometimes think the media hype it all up.
We dont even prepare ourselves very well as individuals.how many amoungst us keep snow boots , thick blankets, torches, snow shovels in our car boots overwinter.hence when we do suddenly get a cold spell we panic buy.
Hardly anyone prepares for anything Shaun. People laugh at the 'preppers' but how many realise there is only 3 days of food on supermarket shelves (1 day in a panic buy situation)? And ok, so we have the distribution nodes around the country piled high with goods. How much? A weeks worth. Within a week and a half if the transport and distribution network broke down the country would be sliding towards starvation. Literally food for thought.
Oh dear, we're going to get five centimeters of snow! Aaaarrgh...What will become of us! We'll most likely starve. The most that's fallen is twenty five centimeters,around a foot of snow but the scary media people can't put that. Don't sound near enough cause mass hysteria. Oh I'm not totally sceptical and careless about slippery conditions..I've already checked on a neighbour who finds it difficult to get to the shops. I feel sorry for the homeless....
There's not enough investment in this country in proper machines and making sure snow is cleared. Too much greed taking profits and damn the general public.
Why are people in the UK so very stupid - they fail to undersatnd that Heathrow airport operates at 98% capacity - greater than any other airport in the World. The footprint of the airport is very small and extremely small for the number of aircraft it has to handle. Long distance planes cannot citrcle for very long and have to land. There are only a limited number of gates and a limited number of places to hold aircraft. There are only two runways so only one can operate when the other is being cleared. Work this one out for yourself.
Dont be insulting putting your point across .but i agree with you entirely .what is bad though is the lack of information and communication for passengers that get stuck in the airport.
People are being killed and injured on the roads and they are moaning about flights being posponed or cancelled shame
I find the overall level of preperation for anything out of the ordinary woeful in this country, and i'm talking about the public as well as the government. Not just weather, what if the oil was suddenly switched off? Far-fetched you may say, but there are only 12 main hubs for the production and distribution of oil. In the world, not UK. If 8 of them went offline at the same time, the world would suffer crippling shortages. All 12 would be catastrophic and very possibly an extinction level event. No oil, no food.
Airport staff often face the rage when weather is unfavourable for flying. Presumably, those grumbling about delayed flights would prefer to go in fog or snow. I wonder if they've ever been in a plane crash.
As an airport worker i totally agree. They think calling me an effing c will make me help them? And the worst are the English. The older, the more ignorant and rude they are.
I agree Lorgar, I'm not an airport worker but I am English and 63, with experience of dealing with the public. I have to say that the rudest category of people are middle-aged and elderly Englshmen who know that those who serve the public cannot respond with the same venom due to the expectations of their employment status.
The difference between Britain and the Scandanavian countries, for example, is that in Britain the snow and ice starts to thaw and then re-freezes several times over as the temperature fluctuates from above to below freezing and back again. If it were a constant, say, minus 10, the conditions would, I think, be less difficult to cope with.