UK sees the return of the big freeze

Britain continued to shiver today, with freezing fog, ice and snow affecting many parts of the country, but there was relief for businesses and retailers as road and rail networks appeared to be coping better after last week’s chaos.

It was also back to the classroom for thousands of children whose schools were closed, although a small minority remained shut in Scotland today. The Department for Education said 50 schools in Yorkshire and Humberside were also closed. Hundreds more schools could close in the next few days after reporting problems with their heating systems.

Edinburgh and Inverness airports were closed because of snow. Others remained open but cancellations and delays continued as arctic conditions affected much of northern Europe. Flights were delayed at Southampton airport owing to the adverse weather and at Liverpool airport owing to freezing fog.

Some flights at Heathrow were being delayed because of the disruption at other airports, but Gatwick – which was badly affected last week – was operating normally.

Lorry drivers are being allowed to drive their vehicles for longer after the government temporarily relaxed their working conditions to help supplies get through.

The warmer weekend temperatures were soon forgotten as forecasters warned temperatures may not rise much above zero in the next couple of days. They were as low as -18C (0.4F) in Yorkshire this morning and snow is expected across much of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland today. That means some disruption to rail services.

At least 10 people have died in the recent weather, in road accidents or, in the case of two pensioners in Cumbria, after falling in their gardens.

Two cyclists died in Cumbria on the same stretch of road where two young women died after their car collided with a Royal Mail van.

In north Lincolnshire, a 55-year-old motorist died after he was in collision with a tanker. Police said it was too early to say if the weather played a part in that accident on the A15 on Saturday but they urged witnesses to contact them.

Edinburgh airport shut at around 10am as a fresh band of snow moved south, while Glasgow airport shut its runway at 9.30am. Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall and Campbeltown airports were also closed.

The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for most of Scotland today, alerting drivers to the risk of heavy snow and icy roads. In the Grampian region, roads were shut because of snow. Police in Tayside said all roads were passable with extreme care, while motorways in central Scotland are down to single lanes. The poor weather also caused disruption on the railways, with the ScotRail website warning of delays and cancellations. Last night temperatures dropped to -13.4C (7.9F) at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway and forecasters said most places would struggle to reach above zero today. But the snow will ease off later.

A man died in Darlington while trying to clear snow outside his home. Peter Andrews, 64, was discovered at yesterday morning. A police spokeswoman said it appeared he had died while shovelling snow.

Among those killed as a result of the weather, two men died on the M62 in Humberside in freezing conditions on Friday.

Police said treacherous road conditions on the A595 in Carlisle contributed to the collision in which Grace Simpson and Jessica Lakin, both 19, died after their car hit a post van.

A couch driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after two cyclists died in a collision on the same stretch of road on Sunday.

A driver who stopped his car to help a stranded motorist in the Yorkshire Dales was killed when he was struck by another vehicle.

A pensioner’s body has been found in a caravan park in Cleethorpes, police said. The man, who was believed to be in his 70s, was discovered by staff at the Thorpe Park on Sunday morning.

A Humberside police spokesman said inquiries were under way to formally identify the victim. The caravan park, which is in the Humberston area, is closed for the winter. The police spokesman said the man’s death was not being treated as suspicious.

The AA said it had attended more than 10,800 breakdowns by 11am today, with calls coming in at just under 3,000 a hour – roughly double the usual rate. A spokesman, Gavin Hill-Smith, said: “Extremely cold weather across the country coinciding with Monday morning, one of the busiest times of the week, has made for a very busy morning – even busier than last Monday when we had the widespread snow.” Problems reported included vehicles failing to start and frozen door locks – Guardian