HEAVY snow – more than five feet deep in places – caused chaos across the region with power cuts, school closures and major disruption to travel.

Blizzards and drifts brought down trees and power cables and left many roads impassable with motorists forced to abandon vehicles as parts of the region came to a standstill.

Between 10cm and 20cm of snow fell between Thursday night and Friday morning and the wintry conditions showed no sign of relenting with further snow on Saturday and yesterday.

Robin Thwaytes, forecaster at the Met Office, said the weather was ‘extremely unseasonal’.

“It has been exacerbated by quite a strong wind blowing it about,” he said, “Up on the higher ground there could be close to 40cm in some areas.”

Wrexham Council, Flintshire Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council had gritters out in force across the weekend in an attempt to keep the region moving but were fighting a losing battle in some areas.

Both North Wales Police and Cheshire Police asked people to travel only if absolutely necessary.

Appointments were cancelled at Wrexham Maelor Hospital on Friday and every school in Flintshire was shut, while more than 60 closed in Wrexham and dozens more shut in the Chester area.

Glyndwr University, Deeside College and Yale College also shut their doors.
North Wales Police said the force was working with all agencies to deal with the unprecedented weather, which saw significant snowfall in Wrexham and Flintshire.

By yesterday most major routes were passable with care, although motorists are still advised to take extreme care. Many minor roads and unclassified roads remain impassable.

Chief Inspector Dave Roome said: “We are urging members of the public to use a degree of common sense – if it is not safe to travel then don’t make the journey, unless it is absolutely essential.

“Anyone travelling along the roads should take extra care and be mindful of pedestrians who may be forced to walk on the roads due to footpaths being blocked.

“Due to the extreme weather conditions the emergency services are experiencing difficulty in reaching certain areas, please understand it make take longer to respond to incidents. We are also urging people to check on neighbours and vulnerable people to ensure they are safe.”

The A5 from Corwen to Llangollen and the Horseshoe Pass both remained closed last night.

Cheshire Police urged motorists to take extra care with the A51 and Kelsall Hill among the worst hit roads.

Public transport was also severely affected by the snow.

Train services between Chester and Llandudno Junction were terminated when an overhead cable fell on the line between Flint and Shotton on Friday morning.

Trains through Wrexham General were hit with delays of more than an hour after trees fell on the line between Shrewsbury and Chester.

Bus services in Wrexham and Flintshire were also hit, with Arriva and GHA Coaches suspending services.

The extreme weather left hundreds of people without power after cuts in parts of Rhostyllen, Ruabon and Cefn Mawr.

A spokesman for Scottish Power said on Friday: “It is difficult to be precise about numbers because there are pockets of customers affected throughout the area.

“But we are talking about a few hundred people affected, mainly due to lines coming down, in some cases because of trees falling on them.

“We have been geared up for this and our engineers are working at the various sites to get our customers back up and running.”

Council services were also hit with bin collections being cancelled and libraries and leisure centres closing.

Forecaster Robin Thwaytes said the snowfall was caused by a cold high pressure zone coming across from Scandinavia meeting milder weather trying to push up from the south.

“It’s a complete contrast with this time last year which was dry, warm and sunny,” he said.

“It’s difficult to say if it’s due to climate change, because for that you have to look over something more like 100 years, but there’s no doubt the number of extreme or abnormal weather events appear to be getting more frequent.

“I hope we’re getting all the bad weather out of the way. Even the weather men are getting tired of it,” he added.