Wales snow: Schools and roads shut, thousands without power

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Media captionThe BBC's Hywel Griffith says thick snow has caused considerable disruption already in south Wales

Heavy snow has closed more than 1,200 schools across Wales and is continuing to cause travel disruption.

Roads are treacherous, many train and bus services are suspended and power cuts have hit thousands of households.

Some 5,000 customers are without power in parts of south, west and north Wales due to faults caused by the weather.

Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire are worst affected, with Swansea, the Vale of Glamorgan and the south Wales valleys hit too.

The Met Office issued a rare red warning for snow and blizzards.

The warning, which advises all non-essential travel be avoided, applies to the south eastern side of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains.

This will remain until 21:00 GMT on Friday, with up to a foot of snow expected on higher ground.

The Met Office added that strong south-easterly winds could also cause severe drifting of lying snow "and severe disruption".

A band of snow spread across much of Wales during Friday morning and was due to last through the afternoon and evening.

There is an amber warning covering most of the country, which means around 5 to 10cm (2 to 4 in) of snow is expected.

Snow began to fall in south Wales at 02:30 GMT causing disruption to road travel with warnings of hazardous conditions in many areas.

The M4 was closed by police in both directions between junctions 36 and 37 at Bridgend but was reopened later.

The runway at Cardiff Airport was also closed for much of the morning because of snow but reopened.

Passengers are urged to check the Cardiff Airport website for updates because of ongoing disruption to services.

Some train routes have been affected with Arriva Trains Wales warning of problems at locations including Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, Abercynon, Cardiff and Tondu.

"Whilst we are closely monitoring the weather situation which may result in short notice delays and cancellations, we are working very hard to run services as close to our normal timetable as possible," said a spokesperson.

Image caption An amber warning covers most of Wales, meaning around 5 to 10cm (2 to 4in) of snow is expected

First Great Western was also warning that severe weather conditions were affecting services between London Paddington, Bristol and south Wales.

Cardiff Bus said it was planning to run services as normally as possible but warned of some alterations to the normal timetable.

There is also some disruption to First Cymru Buses in west Wales, while Stagecoach Buses said none of its services were operating.

Services in Newport are also affected and Traveline says no buses are operating in Powys.

Many roads were treacherous and there were reports of delays caused by snow and weather-related accidents.

  • The A470 was closed in both directions at Merthyr Tydfil and also northbound at the Abercynon roundabout. It is also closed between Merthyr and Brecon.
  • A caller to Jason Mohammad's Radio Wales programme said she had been trying to drive the 14 miles from Beddau near Pontypridd to work in Cardiff but was still on the road three hours later. She said it was because a lorry had jack-knifed on the A4232 near Cardiff causing major hold ups.
  • Pembrokeshire Council appealed to HGV drivers to avoid the A478 between Penblewin roundabout (near Narberth) and Cardigan because of snow.
  • The A44 was partially blocked in both directions at Llangurig in Powys while the A478 in west Wales was described as "atrocious" because of overturned vehicles.
  • The A48 was closed in both directions at Stormy Down, Bridgend, with traffic queues.
  • The A44 was closed in both directions at Crossgates in Powys.
  • The A542 Horseshoe Pass in Denbighshire was closed in both directions closed due to snow between Llangollen and Llandegla.
  • The A4061 Bwlch and Rhigos mountain roads are closed in both directions.

North Wales Police urged motorists to be careful after a number of minor crashes.

The A4244 Felin Hen Road was closed after seven vehicles, all thought to be private cars, collided at Llandygai near Bangor, Gwynedd, at 13:40 GMT.

Police said the cars are believed to have run into the back of each other but nobody was injured.

Meanwhile, many schools have been closed, including all in Neath Port Talbot, nearly all in Torfaen and most in Swansea.

However, at Ysgol y Berwyn in Bala, Gwynedd, teachers stayed with family and friends overnight in Bala to ensure the school was open to those sitting A-levels.

Some councils in south Wales closed all their schools except for pupils taking exams.

Many university and college campuses were also closed because of the weather, including Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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Media captionPhil Davies, network services manager for Wales with Western Power Distribution, says crews are out trying to fix problems

Meanwhile, the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) asked for their service to be used "sensibly" and only for "genuine cases" while St John Cymru Wales volunteers have been helping the ambulance service.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have cancelled all routine outpatient clinics at the University Hospital of Wales and University Hospital Llandough.

Urgent outpatient services - including acute renal, acute paediatric and acute oncology clinics - will go ahead as planned with support from the Wales Ambulance Service Trust.

Patients are being assured their appointments will be "rescheduled as soon as practicable".

Image caption Snow spread across Wales during the morning leaving some areas with as much as 26cm (10in)

All outpatient appointments in the Cwm Taf Health Board area have also been cancelled due to the weather.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board says it will be focusing on emergency and urgent care services, cancelling operations and outpatient clinics on Friday and Saturday at all its hospitals in Bridgend, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

At Swansea Crown Court, judges manned the phones because listings staff could not make it into work.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea announced it was closed until further notice.

Powys Council said refuse and recycling crews were diverted to clear snow from pavements in town centres across the county instead.

Some 10,000 Western Power Distribution (WPD) customers were without electricity in south and west Wales at one stage, but half were reconnected by early afternoon.

Anyone in difficulties is asked to call the emergency line on 0800 052 0400.

A WPD spokesperson said: "There are at least 3,000 still off in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

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Media captionBBC Wales sports reporter Ashleigh Crowter is unable to see his new-born baby on Friday because of the snow.

"There are around 70 different incidents and they are pretty spread out. Swansea, Carmarthen, Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire are the areas worst affected.

"As we're repairing faults, more faults are coming in. We're sending staff into west Wales from other areas to help out but because of the traffic problems it is taking them longer.

"We're hoping for a break in weather - we will continue to work until everyone is back on supply."

Meanwhile, a few hundred homes are without power in north Wales.

Supplier Scottish Power said there were pockets of customers affected, mainly in Gwynedd and on the Llyn Peninsula.

The main radio transmitter for Carmarthenshire also had power problems leaving over 300,000 people without services but it was back in action by late morning with reduced power.

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Media captionForecaster Derek Brockway gives the latest update

BBC Wales meteorologist Derek Brockway said that Tirabad in Powys saw over 26cm (10in) of snow up until 11:00 GMT on Friday, with much bigger drifts due to strong winds.

"The snow is moving north-east today with further accumulations, especially in parts of the south, mid Wales, the north and east - some heavy snow with drifting and blizzards on higher ground," he said.

"In the south-west, it should turn drier but with showers, these falling mainly as rain or sleet on the coast.

"Temperatures are generally around freezing with fresh to strong winds giving a significant wind chill."

He said that on Friday night, snow in the north and east would gradually ease off.

"Elsewhere it will be drier and breezy with a widespread frost, and ice will be a hazard with lying snow and slush freezing as temperatures drop," he said.

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