West Midlands and Staffordshire battered by heavy snow

Heavy snow today saw flights and events across the Black Country and Staffordshire cancelled as emergency services and care staff battled to keep going.

Snow in Wednesbury today. Photo: Mike Maynard.
Snow in Wednesbury today. Photo: Mike Maynard.

With between up 20cm (8 inches) of snow falling in some areas, emergency services were warning drivers only to venture outside if essential.

The eastbound carriageway of the M54 was closed this evening between junction three, for Cosford and junction 2, for Wolverhampton, due to a fallen tree.

Flights were temporarily suspended at Birmingham Airport to clear the runway following heavy snowfall. Passengers were urged to check the airport's website or their airline for further information.

Many schools will remain shut tomorrow and hospitals across the region issued appeals for help from members of the public to get nurses into work.

This morning New Cross, in Wolverhampton and Birmingham Heartlands took to Twitter to ask for owners of 4x4s to get in touch. The Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) put out the call at around 11am – and by 1.30pm more than 50 volunteers had come forward.

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Public transport was also hit, with National Express West Midlands making the decision at 10.30am to suspend all services across the region due to roads conditions, while National Rail advised people not to travel and cancelled numerous services.

A statement from National Rail said: “Local train operators are advising passengers not to travel this Sunday.

“London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway are attempting to run as many trains as possible.

“However, poor road conditions are preventing key staff from getting to work.

“This will lead to a significant amount of delays and cancellations throughout the day.

“We apologise to our customers. While we have done all we can to prepare our trains, stations and depots, road access is proving the biggest challenge of all.”

The Midland Metro was also hit, with trams running between Grand Central and Priestfield only due to a points failure in Wolverhampton from 10am. A full service between the city and Birmingham was back up and running by 2pm.

Motorists who did decide to make a journey on the roads were advised to be extra cautious.

Staffordshire Police said it had dealt with ‘numerous reports of RTCs and vehicles getting stuck when attempting to drive’ by 11am, including an incident on the A5 from the M6 Toll to Muckley Corner, which was closed due to a lorry that had jack- knifed.

Elsewhere, London and the rest of southern England and Wales will instead be lashed by strong winds and rain, where gusts could reach 70mph, according to the Met Office.

The amber alert is accompanied by a yellow warning of wind for parts of eastern England, London and the South East, the South West and Wales that could bring “short-term loss of power and other services” as well as transport disruption.

Temperatures are due to sink to minus double-digits in areas of Scotland overnight, while few places outside of southern England are expected to get above 0C.

Accumulations of 10cm (4in) of snow are expected widely in the warning areas, while 15-20cm (6in-8in) is possible in worst-hit areas.

Highways England issued advice for drivers travelling through the north west and north east of England and the Midlands to check the forecast and road conditions before they travel.

It said motorists should prepare for “any eventuality” by carrying “warm clothing, food, drink, required medication, boots, shovel and a torch”.

Some 18,000 homes were reconnected after losing power as a result of stormy weather on Friday, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said.

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