Cold snap to keep biting

The frozen lake at Hay-a-Park, Knaresborough. (s)
The frozen lake at Hay-a-Park, Knaresborough. (s)

WINTRY weather is expected to dominate the weekend, with more snow, sleet and freezing conditions on the way.

Up to 5cm of snow is set to fall today, Friday, while temperatures in rural areas could plummet to -9C on Saturday night.

The cold snap has seen a stretch of the A1 completely closed this week, hospital admission rates rise and North Yorkshire being forced to use 5,000 tonnes of grit in three days.

Dan Williams, a spokesman for the Met Office, said there was still a “yellow warning” in place in Harrogate for the possibility of snow, with 2-5cm expected to fall last night and today.

“Harrogate is fairly borderline, but we’re expecting a rain front to develop into snow as it moves south and east, so there could be some sleet or rain mixed in as well. For Saturday it looks dry, with some clear spells possible, and temperatures likely to be around two or three degrees,” he said.

“On Saturday night, it is likely to get below zero in urban areas, and it could get pretty cold in some places, with temperatures falling to -8C or -9C in the rural areas.

“There could be some wintry showers, with a chance of rain or sleet, on Sunday, though temperatures are likely to get up to around five degrees.”

He said there would be changeable conditions throughout the coming week, beginning cloudy with patchy rain or drizzle and a chance of gales.

Four inches of snow fell last Saturday and the Monday morning commute, was treacherous, with one stretch of the A1 closed due to ice, despite being gritted the night before.

A series of accidents on the A1 led to problems on the outlying roads as frustrated drivers tried to find a way to work.

Traffic was queuing back along the A19 towards York and the former A1, the A168 which runs parallel to the new road.

Police were called out during the early hours to the first of three jack-knifed lorries, which had veered off the road in freezing temperatures at around 2.15am at Hackforth, Bedale.

The second jack-knifed just further north and the third, which was at Leeming, ruptured its diesel tank in the process.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said police, fire crews, ambulance crews and the Highways Agency had worked together to ensure the occupants were safe.

“Despite the number of reports received there were very few injuries reported, none of which were serious or life threatening,” he said.

The stretch of road between junction 49 at Leeming and junction 47 at Allerton Park had to be shut as the early gritting had been washed away and the road became a sheet of ice.

Police confirmed there had been 16 collisions in the Harrogate area between Saturday and Thursday. No-one was seriously hurt, but a woman suffered a minor neck injury after a collision between a bus and a Rover 825 in Summerbridge, while a BMW driver sustained a slight injury after two BMWs and a Honda Civic collided, damaging a lamppost, on Forest Lane.

A spokesman for Harrogate District Hospital said there had been a rise in admissions to the emergency department since the cold snap began.

“It’s not a massive increase, but they have noticed a slight increase in admissions for minor orthopaedic things like broken arms and broken legs,” she said.

Council gritters used 5,000 tonnes between Saturday and Monday, and were out on so-called “priority one and two” routes in Harrogate from 5am yesterday morning.

A county council spokesman said: “We have more than 30,000 tonnes in stock; this compares with the situation last winter, when at times we were down to less than 10,000 tonnes.”

North Yorkshire’s policy is to treat all priority one roads - major traffic routes, constituting 28 per cent of the network - by 7am.

Gritters then move on to priority two routes, aiming to tackle these by 10am.