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Misery at the airports as heavy snow hits the getaway... but a glimmer of hope as sun is forecast for tomorrow
Saturday, December 18th 2010, 7:25 PM GMT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
#Runway at Heathrow closed, major disruption at other airports
#AA attends 1,200 breakdowns every hour
#Up to 20cm expected in parts of the UK
#Hundreds of drivers trapped on M6 overnight
#Backlog of up to 4m parcels could remain undelivered
#Urgent appeal for blood donors after concerns of shortages
#Grit to be shared amid fears of cold snap until January 14

After a day of travel misery for millions of Britons trying to getaway for Christmas, tomorrow's Met Office forecast predicts a sunny but cold day for most of the UK.

There will be snow showers in parts of Scotland and north east England but the rest of the country will begin to return to normal.

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The Met Office also expects airports to be back up and running as they clear the snow overnight. While Heathrow and Luton airports remain closed, Birmingham airport reopened at 6pm today

Britain's transport system was plunged into chaos today as snow and ice left motorways and airports closed and train services disrupted.

On the busiest weekend for travel of the year, hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed and the roads in swathes of the country were too treacherous to drive on.

Heathrow and Birmingham airports had to close their runways for most of the day after blizzards left the runways covered in snow and ice. Southampton Airport was also shut for a time.

Gatwick - which was forced to close for two days during the freeze a fortnight ago - had learned its lesson and after closing this morning, using 47 snow ploughs and tractors to clear the runway.

Even at airports which are now operational, there will be a huge backlog and delays for hours before schedules return to normal - and the risk of fresh chaos unless the weather eases.

British Airways cancelled all long-haul flights from Heathrow until 8.55pm tonight and also all its flights from Gatwick, apart from the BA2055 to Sharm el Sheikh.

The latest chapter of the big freeze will cause woe for the thousands who were due to fly out of Britain to spend Christmas abroad.

And it caused havoc for travellers heading to other countries to do their last-minute Christmas shopping.

The Highways Agency was advising drivers not to set out unless absolutely necessary - although many ignored the warnings to go shopping at venues including the Trafford centre.

The mercury was struggling to rise above zero all day in many places after overnight blizzards buckled a huge chunk of the road, air and rail networks.

Last night, hundreds of drivers were forced to spend the night in their cars on the M6 after a lorry jackknifed at midnight.

The North West was hit with deluges of up to 10in of snow while parts of the south were also blanketed overnight, with blizzards expected in parts of the South East and Midlands today

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