Thousands stuck in their cars overnight after blizzards bring M62 to a standstil

Heavy snowfall and strong winds brought highways to a standstill overnight, with ‘hundreds and hundreds’ of motorists stuck in their cars in freezing conditions.

Storm Larisa is set to batter parts of the UK with gales and blizzards again today as this week’s cold snap continues.

The Met Office has issued three amber warnings for northern England, the Midlands, North Wales and Northern Ireland, where ‘significant disruption’ to transport and power supplies is expected.

Four yellow warnings for snow also cover much of the rest of the nation, with the exception of South East England and western Scotland.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said the worst of the weather is expected in north-west Wales and northern England, where ‘gusts of easily 50mph’ are on a collision course with ‘30 to 40cm of snow’.

Mr Burkill said: ‘The combination of heavy snow and gales is why we’re likely to see blizzards and drifting snow which causes extra hazards on the roads.

‘In places covered by amber warnings, there will be very difficult, treacherous conditions.

‘Ideally, avoid travelling in those periods – but if you have to head out then be aware that journeys could take significantly longer.’

Traffic was brought to a standstill on the M62 in the early hours of Friday morning due to the heavy snow in the area.

National Highways: North-West said that at one point congestion on the M62 eastbound between Rochdale and Saddleworth stretched to around eight miles.

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Kelly-Marie Prentice was stuck on the motorway for six hours and told Sky News there were ‘hundreds and hundreds and hundreds’ of other vehicles.

‘It’s being hampered by the fact that people have been driving in closed lanes and the hard shoulder, which has stopped the recovery vehicles and snow ploughs from getting through to get everything clear,’ she added.

‘We’re trying to keep ourselves as buoyant as possible and not think about needing to go to the toilet or having a drink.

‘We’re just trying to stay positive and hope everyone stays safe, really.’

Ms Prentice said they have managed to keep the heaters blowing warm air and took coats and blankets with them, ‘so we were well-prepared’.

Several roads were closed in Wales, with warnings of ‘extremely difficult driving conditions’ across northern and central areas.

East Midlands Airport temporarily closed its runway due to heavy snowfall.

Thursday night temperatures will be similar to Wednesday, which was the coldest night of the year, before even colder conditions move in on Friday night.

Mr Burkill said that areas of the Highlands could see minus 17C, after this year’s record low of minus 16C was recorded at Altnaharra in the region.

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The weather is expected to clear by the end of Friday, before then being replaced by another low pressure system, leading to a further yellow snow and ice warning for much of northern England and Scotland from 3pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday.

‘We will then see another low pressure system, further fronts, moving their way in,’ Met Office meteorologist Jonathan Vautrey said.

‘So there has been another yellow snow and ice warning issued for Scotland down into northern England for Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning where we could again see further snowfall building up throughout the weekend.

‘And then it does look to remain unsettled as we move into the start of the new week as well.’

The Met Office amber snow alert for England lasts until noon on Friday and covers major cities including Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds.

Over Wales, an amber snow and ice warning is in place from noon until 9am on Friday, stretching from the north coast to Radnorshire.

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