Gloucestershire weather: Big freeze to last until Tuesday
THE BIG freeze is expected to last until at least Tuesday.
Yesterday's white-out bought chaos for motorists and traders, but elation for the hundreds of people who enjoyed a "snow day".
Around 300 schools were closed across the county, which helped ease the situation on the roads, according to Gloucestershire Highways.
But many routes, particularly in the Forest of Dean and Stroud, were treacherous or completely impassable.
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Power to 300 homes in Coleford was knocked out by snow on the lines.
A flight from Gloucestershire airport had to be cancelled and Stagecoach bus services were also affected.
Travel problems are expected to continue all weekend with more snow on the way today and Monday.
Police this morning said driving conditions on the M% throughout Gloucestershire were hazardous - particularly in lane three - because of the snow and ice.
The Met Office has issued an amber severe weather warning for snow for the county.
Weather expert Ian Thomas predicted a "bitterly cold" start to today with sleet and snow possible throughout the day and temperatures plunging to -6C in rural areas and -3C in the city this evening.
He said: "Monday will bring more sleet and snow and the cold weather will last until at least midweek."
Brisk winds mean drifting snow is also likely and could reach several feet.
Gloucestershire County Council is urging people to check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours during the cold snap.
And Meer's Safe at Home partnership manager Paul Riddick said elderly people should not be worried about turning up the heating. It has grants of up to £500 to dish out to help with keeping warm.
Appointments at Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals were cancelled yesterday and patients were advised to check the website for updates over the weekend.
Both hospitals had a handful of patients come into A&E with injuries caused by the snow.
Director of nursing Maggie Arnold said: "We are very grateful to those who have called in to offer to work shifts over the weekend and to our volunteer drivers with 4x4 vehicles who are helping to transport."
Bin collections in Gloucester, Stroud and the Forest of Dean were suspended and those affected have been told to leave rubbish out and it will be collected today or on Monday.
In the city centre, Gloucester Quays closed early yesterday at 1.30pm, but is expected to open as usual today.
Only three traders showed up at the weekly Food Market at The Cross.
Baker Gary North battled through the icy conditions from Winchcombe to set up his stall.
He said: "We have been selling here seven years and never missed a market.
"It's old-fashioned principles that you don't let down your customers."
He had instructed staff at his shop to stop people panic buying bread.
Over at the Knobbly Cob in Westgate Street, they said trade had been down, but bank bosses had been treating staff who had made it into work to hot snacks from the shop.
One of the county's biggest employers, Renishaw PLC, decided to close all its premises because of the snow.
In Stroud, the A46 between Nailsworth and Stroud was blocked by articulated lorries at Inchbrook, Bath Road in Rodborough and Wallbridge.
One driver had a lucky escape when a Ford Mondeo slid off the road at the junction of Parliament Street and Ryeleaze Road, and nose-dived down a bank into the town's police station car park.
Locking Hill was blocked by a jack-knifed Marston's beer lorry and police also closed the Ebley bypass.
If you have any concerns about an older or vulnerable person, contact the county Adult Helpdesk on 01452 426868. NHS Direct can be contacted on 0845 46 47.