Snow-end in sight! Schools shut, travel disruption and blizzards on the way tonight
Schools were closed, roads were blocked and shows had to be cancelled as snow blizzards blew into the Midlands tonight.
More than 150 Staffordshire schools were closed today as snow continued to fall in sub-zero temperatures.
Thermometers are still well below freezing across the Black Country and Staffordshire, but forecasters have warned the worst is yet to come before the end of the week.
A yellow severe weather warning for snow was in place.
Drivers were facing snowy conditions including long tailbacks on Wolverhampton Ring Road tonight.
There was also problems on the A458 Windmill Hill between Cradley and Halesowen.
A number of bus services were facing delays across the region including in West Bromwich, Walsall and Halesowen. For a full list of changes visit the National Express website.
West Midlands Railway services have been at a standstill between Lichfield Trent Valley and Birmingham New Street, due to overhead line problems.
Tickets are being accepted on local bus routes.
There has also been gridlock on the routes around Stourbridge Junction station.
Birmingham Airport was open but some flights had been cancelled due to snow in other parts of the UK and Europe. This includes many due to arrive from Scotland.
Although the vast majority of Black Country schools were open, more than 170 schools were closed in Staffordshire, while in Sandwell heating problems shut Tameside Primary School in Wednesbury and partially shut the RSA Academy in Tipton, where the school is only open to years 11, 12 and 13.
Of the closed schools, around 80 were in the Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase and Lichfield boroughs.
Meanwhile boat trips on the Dudley Canal were cancelled, as were planned performances at the Robin 2 and Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton, as well as at Stafford Gatehouse.
Bin collections in Stafford were also been postponed, although the borough council encouraged residents to still put their bins out for collection as soon as the weather allows.
And it wasn't just snow and ice causing trouble - high winds in Wolverhampton city centre saw Dudley Street cordoned off while a loose shop front was removed by firefighters.
Conditions in the West Midlands were far better than Scotland, however, where hundreds of motorists spent the night in their cars stranded on the motorway.
Traffic became stationary on the M80 on Wednesday afternoon when heavy snow hit, with forecasters issuing the highest level warning for parts of central Scotland.
Motorists were prepared for a night inside their vehicles and it was not until around 1.30am that Bear Scotland said traffic was moving “slowly” in both directions, however conditions remained difficult.
Mountain rescue teams were drafted in to help emergency services deal with the overnight operation.
Met Office forecasters issued alerts across most of Scotland, with the highest level warning continuing until 10am on Thursday in central regions.
It is the first red alert for snow in Scotland since a new warning system came into place in 2011.
Forecasters warned that lying snow could reach 40cm in a few places by mid-morning.
Latest weather forecast
A yellow 'be aware' warning covering the West Midlands will now last until Saturday.
The Met Office said: “It will turn very windy today, and there will be snow showers in the morning with cloudier skies.
"Storm Emma will then bring some persistent snow later to some parts, with a risk of blizzards in the south. The maximum temperature is 0C.
"It will be windy tomorrow with a chance of further snow in places.
“The weather will turn less cold over the weekend with winds easing. However, further snow is possible as well as spells of rain.”
According to the forecast, today’s highest temperature is -3C with a low of -4C, while tomorrow will hit a high of -1C with a low of -4C.
The weekend will start with a positively balmy high of 0C on Saturday, with warmer weather forecast on Sunday.
Winter weather brings disruption
Yesterday snow fell across the region with some of the worst weather seen in Cannock where Kingsmead School sent pupils home early.
In the Black Country The Dudley Group NHS Trust issued a call for people with 4x4s to help transport staff to and from Russells Hall Hospital.
A trust statement said: “We are calling for volunteers with 4x4 vehicles to offer their assistance to transport staff to and from work safely if we get heavy snowfall this week. Any help is much appreciated.”
Gritters were out across the region overnight as weather plunged to -6C.
Flybe flights from Birmingham Airport to Scotland were cancelled last night amid a red weather warning north of the border.
Rangers at West Midland Safari Park are having to work extra hard to make sure the animals are all coping in the freezing weather.
Jodie Bowen, customer contact lead for Severn Trent Water, said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of calls we’ve had from customers about frozen pipes.”
And Sarah McMonagle, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Heavy snow showers have led to many construction sites across the UK grinding to a halt. Some construction bosses have told their staff to take the rest of the week off.”