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Hundreds of schools to close after heavy snow

Hundreds of schools are to close on Monday after the ‘mini Beast from the East’ brought major disruption to parts of the UK.

Heavy snow in southwest England is expected to continue into the early hours of Monday, with forecasters warning rural communities are at risk of being cut off.

An amber warning for snow – meaning there is a potential risk to life – remains in place for Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset until 3am, with up to a foot (30cm) expected in parts of Dartmoor.

Devon County Council has said more than 240 schools will close on Monday following the severe weather, while dozens of school closures were reported in Somerset, Gloucestershire and parts of Wales.

Exmoor
Video: ‘If we hadn’t been out, she would have died’

Yellow “be aware” warnings for ice have been issued for England, Wales and parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland until 10am as temperatures drop widely to -3C (26.6F) overnight.

It comes after snow and ice caused disruption to road, rail and air travel and forced several sporting events to be abandoned.

All Flybe-operated flights departing from Exeter Airport were cancelled on Sunday, while snow also caused the temporary closure of Bristol airport. A number of flights at Manchester Airport were also cancelled.

Devon and Cornwall Police said a “large number of vehicles” were stuck on the A30 after multiple collisions. The M5 was also temporarily blocked as emergency services recovered a number of stranded HGVs,

Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust appealed for volunteer drivers to help transport staff.

Great Western Railway advised passengers not to travel on Sunday, while Arriva Trains Wales said all lines were blocked between Newport South Wales and Hereford.

Homes in Hemsby, Norfolk, were evacuated amid fears they could be washed into the sea after warnings of snow and ice.

And a burst water pipe in Sheffield city centre caused travel disruption and left hundreds of properties without water amid freezing conditions.

Video: Burst water pipe floods major road

In football, the Championship fixture between Derby County and Cardiff City was abandoned due to the freezing weather.

The Irish Rugby Union team’s planned homecoming celebration after their Grand Slam Six Nations win was also cancelled.

Rugby Union’s Anglo-Welsh Cup final between Bath and Exeter was postponed, while horse racing events in Carlisle and Ffos Las were scrapped.

Half marathons in Reading, Wigan and Wilmslow and the City of Lincoln 10k were also cancelled.

Arthur, a West Highland terrier, explores the snow near Okehampton in Devon
Image: Arthur, a West Highland terrier, explores the snow near Okehampton in Devon

Monday is expected to be the last day of the latest cold blast, which followed a freezing spell of weather earlier this month dubbed “the Beast from the East”.

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Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “Gritters will be out treating our roads around the clock, but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow is forecast.

“Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel.”

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