Snowfall chaos in Cumbria: drivers stranded, communities unite

Drivers in Cumbria found themselves grappling with heavy snowfall, leading to a night spent in makeshift shelters or stranded in their vehicles. The situation escalated to a major incident,

prompting police to intervene as approximately 200 vehicles became trapped in the South Lakes area.

To aid those stranded, reception centers were hastily arranged while emergency services worked tirelessly to reach individuals trapped in their vehicles. With police declaring a major incident and urging restraint in travel within the county, the focus was on assisting those affected by the disruptive snow.

The disruption stemmed from an amber warning issued by the Met Office, predicting a significant 4-6 inches (10-15cm) of snow in certain areas, easing slightly overnight yet leaving a lingering yellow warning for ice until 11:00 GMT.

Among the impacted roads were the M6, affected by jack-knifed lorries, and the A595, rendered impassable. Drivers like Ant Brett, who was en route for a family wedding, found themselves stuck for 19 hours without progress. He expressed concern over the lack of essential supplies, emphasizing the challenging situation faced without aid.

Cumbria Police urged people not to travel unless absolutely necessary, advising those abandoning their vehicles to ensure they were moved to the road's side to facilitate emergency service access. Superintendent Andy Wilkinson acknowledged the arduous conditions, expressing understanding for the frustrations expressed, while emphasizing the collective effort to ameliorate the situation amidst the unexpected severity of the snowfall.

The collaborative response involved various agencies, including fire and rescue crews, ambulance teams, and mountain rescue teams. National Highways advised extra caution for drivers and stressed the importance of carrying essential items for emergencies when undertaking journeys in freezing conditions.

Railway lines between Lancaster and Carlisle were also affected, leading train operator Northern to caution against travel, while Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire suspended some bus services until road conditions improved.

However, amidst the challenges, communities in Cumbria united, opening emergency reception centers to provide sustenance and refuge. Accounts like that of David Pittam in Hawkshead illustrated the camaraderie, where locals, including a stranded brass band, found shelter in places like the primary school, scout hut, and even the vicarage, fostering a somewhat festive atmosphere despite the trying circumstances. Photo by Jason Yates, Wikimedia commons.

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