Drivers accused of not heeding weather warnings as Storm Larisa hits UK with heavy snowfall

North of England Reporter Sangita Lal has the latest weather updates as Storm Larisa batters parts of the UK with heavy snowfall

Too many drivers ignored warnings to avoid non-essential journeys, National Highways suggested as many people spent long periods stuck on the M62 in severe weather.

On Friday, heavy snow from Storm Larisa brought treacherous conditions to North West England, leaving drivers stranded across Greater Manchester and Yorkshire, for more than nine hours.

National Highways operational control director Andrew Page-Dove said the agency "threw everything" at keeping traffic moving, but struggled due to the volume of traffic and drivers ignoring lane closures.

He said: "I think the volume of the traffic speaks for itself, particularly this morning. The M62 was queued back to Manchester.

"Personally, I probably wouldn’t have set out on a journey knowing that those conditions were there.

"Were all those journeys essential? I don’t know. I don’t think [the warning] was necessarily as well heeded as we would have liked it to have been."

Traffic at a standstill on the M62 motorway near Kirklees, West Yorkshire, due to heavy snow in the area. Credit: PA

One motorist who was stuck in the car for over nine hours described her ordeal to ITV News, telling of how there had been "some scary parts" to being stranded in the traffic amid heavy snow and high winds.

Kelly-Marie Prentice said she had yesterday travelled to Manchester to go and see a musical at the theatre and to drop off - and pick up - her son who was seeing a concert at the O2 Victoria Warehouse.

"I picked Alfie up at 11.10pm and we set off for home, which is Lincoln, so it should have taken us two hours and twenty minutes to get home," she told ITV News from a service station.

"As we got onto the M62 it became obvious that there was a problem. But by the time you were on it there is only one junction which you can leave at. And that junction we only got to this morning at about half six, seven o'clock."

Ms Prentice said the worst section had been the last leg of the journey, describing "chaotic" scenes on the motorway with abandoned and crashed vehicles.

She said that being desperate for the toilet and sleep deprived did not help navigate the slushy, icy conditions.

Kelly-Marie Prentice said the icy conditions have been 'treacherous' at points

"The worst section has just been the last probably two and a half, three hours," she said. "As we were coming up the hill - just by where you are level with Ripponden on the M62, you go up a hill and there must have been 20, 25 jack-knife lorries just stranded all the way up the hill.

"So it was like you were having to do a bit of a heltah-skeltah just to get round them. There was abandoned vehicles, crashed vehicles, just really chaotic and quite scary."

Emma Hamilton, 28, who works for the NHS and is from Yorkshire, said she had been stuck for eight hours travelling from Manchester.

She said: "There’s lorries broken down all over the road across all lanes. Drivers are having to work out themselves how to go round them. Sort of bobbing and weaving round them.

"I’m just tired and upset at the lack of any direction from authorities. We’ve all sort of been left to it to direct ourselves."

"It honestly feels never-ending at this point."

Greater Manchester Police said ploughing and gritting on the M62 had been "severely delayed" by some motorists illegally using the hard shoulder and closed lanes.

According to the RAC, "the situation was made worse" by drivers overtaking other vehicles and getting stuck in fresh snow.

Staffordshire police said the army, police officers, paramedics and firefighters are dealing with multiple vehicles stuck in deep snow on the A53 and A523 near Leek.

A major incident has not been declared in Staffordshire, although the situation remains serious, police say.

Heavy traffic has also been seen in Northern Ireland, with the Police Service of Northern Ireland having warned people to only travel if their journey is essential.

NIE Networks, which handles power infrastructure, meanwhile, said the weather had caused severe disruption to supply and crews were working hard to restore supply.

Almost 200 schools have had to close in Northern Ireland. You can read the full list here.

Hundreds of used cars covered in snow in Corby, Northamptonshire. Credit: PA

Where was the worst of the weather expected?

The Met Office had a number of warnings in place for snow and ice, including an amber warning covering northern England and the Midlands until midday.

Four yellow warnings for snow also covered much of the rest of the nation, with the exception of south-east England and western Scotland.

A low of -13.6C was recorded in Altnaharra, Sutherland, in the Highland region of northern Scotland overnight.

The Met Office said the greatest depth of snow recorded was 27cm at Capel Curig in North Wales.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill earlier said that a pocket of western Scotland covering Glasgow and the county of Argyll may be the only region untouched by heavy rain and snow over the next 24 hours.

In the worst affected areas on Friday, the winds whipped up to 50mph. Accompanied by 40cm of snow, it led to blizzard conditions.

People in the south of England are likely to experience the worst of the rain.

Snowy conditions surround the Knaresborough Viaduct, Yorkshire. Credit: PA

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has set up temporary accommodation and readied evacuation plans for those whose homes are at risk of falling into the sea.

It came after two households on a crumbling coastline in Hemsby, Norfolk, fled their homes in fear after damaging high tides and strong winds.

Describing the situation at the seafront, Keith Kyriacou, chairman of Hemsby Parish Council, said: "It’s pretty miserable down there. There’s been people evacuated from their homes. It’s not looking very good at all."

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.

Flooding caused by melting snow in in Witherley, Leicestershire. Credit: PA

Train and air travel impacted by adverse conditions

TransPennine Express and Northern were among the train operators affected by the conditions, with many services cancelled.

Merseyrail, which runs train services in Merseyside and the surrounding areas, delayed the start of its operations on Friday due to the severe weather.

Network Rail said it hopes two Peak District rail routes blocked by snow will reopen between 3pm and 6pm.

The closure of the Hope Valley line means no trains are running between Manchester and Sheffield, and there are no services between Buxton and Hazel Grove due to the Buxton line being blocked.

Air travel was affected too, with the majority of flights departing Liverpool John Lennon Airport delayed on Friday morning.

East Midlands Airport was closed for around three hours while flights were suspended at Birmingham Airport for around an hour to clear snow from the runway and there were also delays to flights at Bristol Airport.

Also due to the weather conditions, some of the region's attractions made the decision to close, including Drayton Manor, West Midlands Safari Park and Dudley Zoo.

Derbyshire Constabulary urged drivers not to travel in the Peak District on Friday morning “unless absolutely necessary” as most roads in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales areas were “impassable”.

The force said it was working with mountain rescue teams to respond to reports of stranded vehicles.

A fallen tree blocking the railway line at Mansfield left rail services at a standstill between Nottingham, Mansfield and Worksop.

Amid treacherous conditions in some areas, a number of homes are having to cope without any power.

As ITV News North or England Reporter Sangita Lal noted, 3,000 homes have been left without electricity across West Yorkshire, for example.

Elsewhere, firefighters were called to a partial roof collapse at a flat on Longford Walk in Tulse Hill, south London.

London Fire Brigade said the aluminium roof of a three-storey block of flats had peeled off in high winds and was in a precarious position. There were no reports of any injuries.

In Wales, thousands of young people have another day off as hundreds of schools, mainly in the north, are shut because of the conditions.

It comes as a schoolboy fights for his life after being in a collision with a gritter lorry while walking to school.

The boy, 13, is said to have life-threatening injuries and is being treated at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Police say he was injured at around 8.20am on Thursday on the Lansbury Park estate in Caerphilly - one of the areas of South Wales worst affected by the snowfall.

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