Six inches of snow causes chaos in Leicestershire
Six inches of snow caused traffic chaos yesterday, leaving roads in the city and parts of the county gridlocked.
People tried to get home early before the blizzard jammed major routes, but traffic in the city had almost come to a standstill by 4pm. At one stage it was taking up to two hours to travel half-a- mile, and the problems continued well into the evening.
East Midlands Airport suspended all flights just before 3pm and bus passengers were left stranded as companies First and Arriva decided to stop services from 6pm as many city and county roads became unsafe.
Steve Zanker of First said: "It was not safe to send out vehicles in the conditions."
East Midlands Trains said services to London were delayed by signaling problems caused by snow .
Mohammed Thalukdar's drive to pick up his two teenagers from school took two hours, instead of the usual 12 minutes. Mohammed, 41, of Highfields, Leicester, said: "The dual carriageway in Oadby was thick with snow and cars were sliding. They just couldn't get a grip on the road and it wasn't just on the uphill bits. It was as if they hadn't gritted at all."
Craig Johnson, 39, from Coalville who had a slow commute home from Whetstone, said: "There was a lorry stuck on the approach to the M1 at Fosse Park and traffic was crawling. Then the motorway traffic was only doing 20mph and the A511 was crawling, too."
Last night's kick-off time for the Leicester City v Middlesbrough match was put back after the visitors' team coach got caught up in the chaos in the city and around the King Power Stadium.
City stars also battled to be there on time – defender Liam Moore had to abandon his car a mile from the stadium and walk the rest of the way, midfield star Anthony Knockaert walked from the train station and striker Martyn Waghorn jogged to the ground from Fosse Park.
Police warned motorists to stay off the roads unless their journey was vital.
A spokesman in the force control room said: "It's gridlock out there. Our officers are answering emergency-only calls because we do not want to put them at risk.
"We would warn people to stay off the roads unless they really have to travel."
The force reminded people to only call 999 for real emergencies, and urged people not to call the police to report snowballs being thrown.
The county council's 17 gritters treated key routes across Leicestershire last night and were due to be on the road again today and tomorrow.
Additional quick response teams were deployed to deal with any problem areas, following the snowfall yesterday.
Earlier in the day, more than 40 Leicestershire schools had shut early.
In Hinckley, the Centrebus services halted at 4.30pm, while Arriva reported several roads, including some in Oadby and Lutterworth, that were no longer safe to use even by early afternoon.
Council libraries, leisure centres and recycling sites closed their doors early and waste collections in Leicester, Hinckley and elsewhere were cancelled.
County Hall transport spokesperson Lesley Pendleton said: "We will monitor the situation, including weather forecasts, closely over the next few days to ensure we are as prepared as we can be."
Leicester Mercury weatherman Dave Mutton said: "We haven't had snow this thick for a long time.
"With a frost overnight, it makes it very icy on the roads, too. They're working hard with the gritting lorries on the roads, and we can only advise people to stay indoors with their thermal underwear on and the heating up.
"I expect to see some more snow on Sunday and some more wintry weather well into next week."
For those safe at home yesterday, the snowfall was a source of fun.
Sarah Hill, 22, of Thornton, made a snowman with her boyfriend Ben Smith, 28, who also posed for a photo wearing nothing but a woolly hat and one of Sarah's bikinis.
Sarah said: "It was really cold and there was loads of snow. It started coming down at 10am and just didn't stop. They stopped the buses when the roads got bad.
"But we had good fun and made a proper snowman with a carrot for a nose and everything."
The county council's customer service centre is opening from 8am to noon today , for urgent snow or ice queries.
Residents can call it on 0116 305 0001.