- David Hort
Freezing rain causes traffic mayhem
Cumbria has today been gripped by a patch of freezing rain with 97 crashes reported in less than six hours.
Whilst the UK has been bracing itself for a Siberian cold snap, most forecasters predicted snow and icy winds to sweep in. Instead the UK has experienced freezing rain with northern England the worst hit.
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Commuters were forced to bypass the A66 trans-Pennine route which was closed after a number of articulated lorries jackknifed on the sheet ice. Parts of the M6 were also hit hard as frozen rain glazed northern roadways in ice.
Police in Cumbria have warned motorists not to drive unless absolutely necessary after a spate of incidents however no serious injuries have been reported yet.
Freezing rain is a rarity in the UK and the freak condition only occurs when a number of factors contrive to turn snow into rain in midair, before it freezes on impact with sub-zero temperatures close to the ground.
The effect is glazed ice which quickly forms in sheets on road surfaces, causing difficult driving conditions for UK motorists.
As well as forming on road surfaces, the glazed ice can also stick to windscreens, door handles and bonnets almost immediately on impact.
The dangerous weather quirk is adding to arctic conditions from earlier in the week where black ice was already widespread in the UK, forcing the Met Office to issue a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert.
The depressing weather front, blown in from Siberia and across from the Atlantic, looks set to hover over the UK for the next few days with freezing conditions expected to remain, bringing with it a mix of rain, sleet and snow.
"If you really must travel in severe conditions a few simple checks can help you complete your journey safely. Remember, you should take extra care in winter, even after road surfaces have been treated with salt and are clear of snow," said Jason Glasson, the Highways Agency's severe weather manager.
Travel disruption has been felt across the UK and not just on the road with Heathrow airport grounding all flights late on Sunday. Rail services have also been met with severe delays.
Read our live traffic and travel map to keep up to date with the state of UK roads.