Wintry weather disrupts UK power, flights and roads

LONDON – Britain suffered power outages and travel disruption Wednesday, with flights delayed because of brief runway closures as adverse weather hit large swathes of the country.

More than 73,000 homes were left without power in central and southern English regions through the morning, due to snow and high winds.

Western Power Distribution — serving 7.8 million customers in western and central England and Wales — said 52,705 households had been restored by 4pm (1600 GMT), with another 1,500 to be back by midnight.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, covering some of the other areas impacted, said it had restored power to 17,100 customers by lunchtime.

Another 1,800 remained without electricity by the evening.

Meanwhile Stansted Airport, serving predominantly low-cost carriers like Ryanair and easyJet, twice temporarily shut its runway due to “adverse weather conditions”.

“Incoming and departing flights have been disrupted, with some flights cancelled,” a spokeswoman told AFP.

Flights were also cancelled or delayed at Luton Airport — also a hub for budget airlines just north of London — after aircraft needed de-icing.

The airport restricted plane numbers to prevent congestion on the ground, a spokesman said.

Large parts of Britain experienced at least some snowfall Wednesday, alongside near-freezing temperatures and gusty winds.

Wales, western England and Scotland saw the worst of the weather.

Sennybridge in Powys, Mid Wales, recorded the largest snow total with 6 centimetres (2.4 inches), the Met Office, Britain’s weather service, reported.

On the roads, a spate of accidents caused traffic delays, with the main M1 motorway along the spine of the country severely impacted by southbound lane closures.

The latest disruption comes just over two weeks after hundreds of schools were closed, homes left without power, and airports disrupted by a previous round of snowfall.

Richard Dawson, an engineering professor at Newcastle University who specialises in climate impact on infrastructure, told AFP Britain suffers from “an intermittency issue” in coping with adverse weather.

He explained the country does not receive snow regularly enough to justify the kind of expenditure needed for a more impressive response to when it does, intermittently, occur.

“So I guess the organisations are trying to find a sensible balance,” he added.


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