Train services cut and schools shut as snow forecastBy Stephen Lloyd
January 17, 2013
A WEATHER alert for Friday and into the weekend has been issued for the region, with train companies cutting services and schools planning to close as plunging temperatures, blizzards and snow - predicted to be "heavy in places" - are forecast.
The Met Office has issued an amber warning of snow for London and the south east from 3am until 9pm on Friday.
It said a band of snow moving across the country from the south west could "last through the afternoon and evening across much of Wales, the Midlands, southern and parts of south east England".
Accumulations of more than 5-10cm of snow "will occur quite widely", and the Met Office advised people to be prepared for the risk of travel disruption.
South West Trains (SWT) has already put a revised timetable in place for Friday.
There will be no service from Ascot to Ash Vale or Virginia Water to Weybridge, plus changed services on a number of other routes, including the fast service from London Waterloo to Woking, Guildford and Basingstoke, Waterloo to Haslemere and Portsmouth, Waterloo to Epsom and Dorking, the stopping services to Woking, Guildford and Kingston via Wimbledon, Waterloo to Reading and Kingston via Richmond, Aldershot to Guildford, and on the Chessington, Hampton Court and Shepperton branches.
Customer service director Jake Kelly said: "With severe weather warnings in place for heavy snow on our network, we have taken the decision to put a special timetable in place for Friday."
SWT warned there may be a further cut to services if the weather was more severe than forecast.
Southern Railway also said it would be operating an amended timetable on Friday.
Councillor Mel Kendal, deputy leader of Hampshire County Council, said: "The forecasts we receive indicate that it will snow in Hampshire from approximately 4am and that it is likely to be persistent, with five to ten centimetres settling across the county."
The authority said its salt barns were full with enough supplies for 15 days of continuous, round-the-clock salting, while 3,000 community grit bins have been provided and around 100 farmers are on standby to help clear roads using snow ploughs if needed.
Hampshire Constabulary urged people to try to avoid travelling on the roads on Friday morning.
Chief Inspector Gary Cooper said: "Keep journeys to only those that are absolutely necessary - at all costs we want to avoid a repeat of traffic chaos we have had during snow in previous years.
"Those that have the flexibility in their job to work from home - tomorrow would be a very good day to do so."
Surrey County Council said it had a fleet of 39 gritters supported by a quad bike, an all-terrain vehicle and 51 farmers equipped with spreaders and ploughs.
It stockpiled 16,000 tonnes of salt at the end of last year, double the amount needed in an average Surrey winter.
Council leader David Hodge said: “Getting through any severe winter weather requires us all to play our part.
“The county council has been planning for months to make sure it helps to keep the road network moving as much as possible, continues providing services to the most vulnerable and carries on providing grit for residents to spread in their community.
“But the truth is we cannot do everything. If residents and communities support us, things will be much better for the county as a whole."
The county council emailed all schools on Thursday to warn them about the weather forecast, and a number have already decided to close on Friday as a result.
They included Brooklands School in Reigate, Clifton Hill in Caterham, Freemantles in Woking, Pond Meadow in Guildford, Portesbery in Camberley, St Nicholas School in Redhill, The Abbey School and Ridgeway Community School in Farnham, and West Hill in Leatherhead.
More information on school closures can be found on the Surrey County Council website.
The Met Office said the band of snow was likely to "slowly weaken through Saturday morning" but there would then be a subsequent risk of ice.