Multiple crashes on UK roads as icy weather brings perilous conditions

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Freezing rain has caused chaos on the roads with police reporting multiple crashes as Storm Deirdre led to treacherous conditions.

Most the British Isles faced an onslaught of severe weather on Saturday with high winds, snow and heavy rain.

The Met Office said the worst of the storm’s impact had passed by Saturday night, with milder conditions expected on Sunday.

But police forces across the country were left dealing with numerous reports of collisions triggered by icy conditions.

Multiple crashes were reported between junctions 15 and 17 of the M74 in southern Scotland.

Police in Dumfries tweeted: “Road described as very icy with multiple vehicles crashed. It appears the freezing rain may have arrived on the motorway.”

Freezing rain is a rare weather phenomenon that can lead to the rapid build up of very slippery ice glazes that pose a risk to drivers and pedestrians.

Winter weather Dec 15th 2018
The A66 near Brough in Cumbria closed due to “adverse cold weather creating dangerous road conditions” (PA).

The A84 was said to be “impassable” in both directions north of Callander due to heavy snowfall.

Between 40 to 50cm of snow fell in the central highlands, the Met Office said.

It warned that melting snow and incoming rain due on Monday could create a risk of “localised flooding”.

South Yorkshire Police urged drivers to “take care” on the roads.

The force tweeted: “Our officers are dealing with multiple collisions across South Yorkshire tonight due to the weather, and it isn’t getting any better. There are icy roads, lots of surface water, plus wind and heavy rain.”

Police forces in Devon, Cheshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Merseyside all also tweeted to say they were responding to incidents of fallen trees or traffic collisions.

Motorists were urged to avoid certain roads and drive with caution.

Footage from Manchester Airport posted on YouTube showed planes aborting landings due to strong crosswinds.

Earlier on Saturday, freezing rain was reported at Leeds Bradford Airport, but a spokesman said there had been no delays.

Storm Deirdre’s arrival was also a blow to retailers on what should been a major pre-Christmas shopping day.

Saturday footfall across UK high streets was down by 9.1% by 3pm, retail intelligence firm Springboard reported.

Simon Partridge, a meterologist at the Met Office, said on Saturday evening: “The majority of the rain and the snow has cleared into the North Sea”.

“We’ve had a number of roads that have been closed due to ice and blocked by vehicles that have slid out of control,” he said.

He added: “It doesn’t seem that anything too bad has occurred from what we are aware of, hopefully the message got through to the right people at the right time.”

He said the weather warnings had been reduced across the country, with only one amber warning of snow in central Scotland still in place.

Mr Partridge said wind speeds reached more than 70mph off the Welsh coast.

He said skies would start to clear on Sunday, but cold temperatures meant ice patches would remain.

People could expect “milder conditions” with lighter winds and “temperatures returning closer to normal for the time of year”.

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