HEAVY snow brought mixed blessings across West Kent this week with motorists having to abandon journeys to work while youngsters took to the slopes on their sledges as schools closed.
Overnight and early morning flurries quickly lead to slippery roads with a number of major routes becoming blocked including the Frant Road into Tunbridge Wells.
By late afternoon yesterday [Tuesday] Kent Police had reports of 185 collisions in the county. They also received 70 other weather related emergency calls as up to 10 centimetres of snow fell.
A total of 339 of schools were closed across the county, more than five times anywhere else in the UK. Neighbouring East Sussex had the next highest number with 62, while in third place was Norfolk with 36.
Arriva suspended bus services in Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks. Bin collections were also cancelled.
Southeastern, however, said it operated a mostly normal train service with just a handful of cancellations.
“This was because we took the decision to lengthen some trains to ensure they’re more reliable in snow and ice” explained a spokesman. “We will need to make some further short notice changes in the coming week depending on the weather forecast.”
He advised passengers to check the Southeastern website for those changes.
Thousands of people heeded warnings about hazardous road conditions and stayed at home with numerous offices, and shops, remaining empty.
Frustrated motorists who ventured out took to social media to complain about the state of the roads which prompted Kent County Council (KCC) to point out the crews of their 65 gritting lorries had ‘worked hard’ during the night covering 1,300 miles of road. In rural areas 117 tractors had been used to keep roads open.
KCC pledged that the lorries would be out again at midnight and from 7am on Wednesday morning.
Many of those who tried to drive were eventually forced to turn back. Typical was the experience of office worker Peter Miller who drives daily from Heathfield into Tunbridge Wells.
“I set out at 6.30am and after an hour had gone about 10 miles and reached Mark Cross,” he said. “Driving conditions were appalling with cars sliding all over the road which eventually became blocked by vehicles.”
The Met Office forecasts further snow with temperatures expected to stay below freezing.
Bitterly cold and turning windy through Wednesday with snow showers continuing during the morning, but it is expected to turn drier with some sunshine through the afternoon.
Outlook for Thursday to Saturday
Thursday will be mostly cloudy and bitterly cold with a strong easterly wind. spells of snow are likely to spread from the south, often light but some heavier spells are possible at times. The snow may intensify again through Friday as it moves northwards. Drier overnight. Cold again on Saturday with a risk of another spell of snow pushing from the south later in the day.
Is throwing a snowball illegal?
With many schools closed thousands of youngsters are enjoying the snow and taking part in snowball fights. But they have to be careful as a spokesman for Kent Police explains:
“Throwing a snowball in general is not a crime but if snowballs are thrown which cause injury or permanent damage then that could be a criminal matter.
“It’s no different to throwing a stone. Throw them in the sea, no problem. Throw them at a moving car and it’s a different result.
“It’s not a crime to play with snowballs as long as you don’t hurt anyone or property.”