Britain in grip of harshest winter weather for 18 years
London (PTI): Britain on Tuesday bore the brunt of snow and freezing weather as normal life came to a grinding halt, with schools closing down and public transport services running erratic, as forecasters warned of worse days could be ahead. Though there was bright sunshine in parts of the country, Britain faced a week of paralysis after the heaviest snow for 18 years shut 2,800 schools and brought chaos to the road, rail and bus networks.
The snow also affected air-travel as thousands of airline passengers were stranded at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton and Luton. Forecasters today warned conditions were due to become even more treacherous as temperatures last night fell below freezing, turning the slush to ice.
The blizzards would return to the South on wednesday, with snow continuing at least until the week end. Despite five days of severe weather warnings, transport bosses appeared to have been completely caught out as up to a foot of snow fell across the country, on Monday.
One in five workers was left stranded at home, at an estimated cost to the economy of 1.2 billion pounds. In London, all bus services were cancelled for the first time in living memory, as a network which had carried on running during the Blitz - and during much worse conditions in 1963 - proved unable to deal with six inches of snow.
Cancelled Tube trains added to the chaos in the capital. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the authorities were doing "everything in our power" to bring back transport links. Drivers were told to travel only if absolutely necessary. Southeastern Rail cancelled all train services to London. Southern Rail and South West Trains drastically reduced services.