Snow causes chaos in East Devon

PUBLISHED: 10:20 06 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:27 10 June 2010

EAST Devon has been covered with several inches of snow after an unexpected blizzard last night (Thursday).

EAST Devon has been covered with several inches of snow after an unexpected blizzard last night (Thursday).

Roads have been closed, trees knocked on to the road and motorists stranded as the Highways Agency works fast to cope with the gritting and pile-ups.

Around eight to 12 inches of snow has fallen on most of Devon beginning shortly after 9pm.

The day should start clearing up in the afternoon but there are warnings of black ice as the weather turns colder

There are delays of up to two hours on the A376 with traffic grinding to a halt near Lympstone and backing up either way.

Exmouth has escaped most of the snow but all roads leading in and out of the town have been badly affected, with the snow depth greatly increasing outside of the town's borders, on Woodbury Common, the A376 and the B3179.

Last night, there were stranded motorists due to heavy snow on the A380 Telegraph Hill and A38 Haldon Hill with rest stops set up to cope with the 500 motorists.

The Army was called in to pick up about 60 people stuck on the A386 near Tavistock.

Rest centres for stranded people were set up at Haldon Racecourse and Chudleigh Town Hall as they waited several hours while the gritters and snow ploughs cleared the roads.

Gold control has been opened and all the agencies involved - Devon CC, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Westcountry ambulance trust, the Dartmoor rescue group and St Johns ambulance are al working together to a existing plan to deal with the incident.

Exeter Airport reopened just before 0830 GMT after three snow ploughs spent the night trying to keep the runways clear.

North Devon District NHS Trust has cancelled all outpatient clinics in South Molton, Ilfracombe, Holsqworthy, Torrington.

Clinics in Bideford and North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple are under review.

Superintendent Tim Swarbrick, speaking from Gold Control in Exeter said: "The weather caught everyone unawares as the sudden, heavy snowfall had not been predicted.

"With the other agencies we have been helping hundreds of motorists in Devon and Cornwall overnight and the advice still stands at present - don't travel unless essential.

"If you must travel ensure you are prepared - check local information first, take warm clothing and a mobile phone with you.

"Put a spade in the boot.

"Make sure you have plenty of fuel and allow extra braking distance in these slippery conditions"

"Whilst the weather situation is changeable we are hopeful the Highways Agency will be able to make the roads safe enough for drivers to be bussed from the rest centres back to their cars this morning."

* Contact the Journal with your stories and pictures of the snow or if you were affected by the Exeter pile-up.

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