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Heavy snow in northern England causes havoc on highways and knocks out power


AMBLESIDE, England (AP) — Heavy snow in northern England forced motorists to seek shelter or spend the night in their cars and knocked out power to more than 2,500 customers, officials said Sunday.

Trucks jackknifed in the snow, blocking highways, as drivers reported taking hours to complete short trips while others were forced to find a place to stay along their routes or in their vehicles.

“It really feels like you’re walking through the Alps or some ski resort at the moment,” Harrison Ward said in the Lake District community of Ambleside. “Once a few cars have stopped or crashed or been abandoned, then it all comes to a halt."

Ant Brett said he had been stuck in his car for 19 hours since Saturday afternoon while driving from Essex to Cumbria, a journey that should have taken just over 5 hours.

“I was heading up to a family wedding — it’s fair to say I didn’t make it," he told the BBC. "I’m down to my last bit of water and having to ration it. I know the emergency services are busy but we’ve just been left here without help.”

The Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service said it worked through the night to get drivers out of cars stuck in deep snow. Cumbria Police Superintendent Andy Wilkinson said the storm was more significant than forecast and people were urged Sunday not to travel to the county.

Wilkinson said highway workers were verbally abused by some drivers.

“We understand people’s frustration during this time," Wilkinson said. "However, agencies are working hard to improve the situation in Cumbria and are also facing the challenging road conditions when responding.”

Schools, churches and a scout hut were used to provide emergency shelter for stranded travelers.

Erick Mattinson hunkered down in an Ambleside church after driving to collect his wife and a friend after their bus was canceled. It took him 5.5 hours to get there from Keswick, a drive that would normally take 30 minutes.

“The snow’s horrendous," he told Sky News. The only saving grace, he said, is that a store in town had sold them some wine.

Over 2,500 people were without electricity in Cumbria, Electricity North West reported. It expected to restore power by late Sunday night.

The Met Office, the U.K.’s meteorological agency, issued a weather warning for ice in parts of the Midlands, the north of England, much of north and central Wales and eastern Scotland from Sunday evening to noon Monday.