Drivers stranded and lorries jack-knife as snow brings part of Kent to a halt
Operation Stack brought
in on the M20 at J8. Picture: Highways Agency
Commuters are warned to take extra care on Kent's roads tonight
after Operation Stack was brought in when severe weather
here and in France caused motorways and major routes to become
clogged or closed.
Operation Stack Phase 2 has been put in place, which means all
traffic is taken off the M20 coastbound at junction 8.
Lorries are then put back on and held in a queue. Other traffic
is diverted along the A20 before rejoining the motorway at junction
9 at Ashford.
Meanwhile, other roads across Kent are still gridlocked as
emergency services battle to clear abandoned cars, jack-knifed
lorries and crashes.
Southeastern rail services are also suffering from delays and
cancellations, while no Eurostar trains have been running
Kent Police this evening urged drivers to travel only if
A spokesman said: "Snow, high winds and freezing temperatures
are expected to continue throughout Tuesday and into the night and
motorists are advised to only travel if necessary."
More than 130 schools were also reported closed today across the
county, with Sevenoaks, Folkestone and Dover among the worst.
Police worked throughout the night, as they were called to more
than 100 stranded motorists. Drifts today were reported to be as
high as 10ft in parts.
Around 30 vehicles have been left abandoned on Lympne Hill,
after the area became impassable.
Some journeys throughout the county stretched into several
hours, after strong winds and snow left lorries jackknifed and cars
At just before 4pm today, police issued an update on closures
- The M2 between junctions one and two have a number of
broken-down vehicles causing delays
- The M20 between junctions seven to 11 has slow traffic,
junction 11a closed, Op Stack in place. Motorists are advised to
avoid the M20 at all costs.
- The Sheppey Crossing could also be closed later this evening
due to heavy winds.
Stranded cars and lorries
in three lanes of traffic on the coastbound M20 near to junction 10
Cars were buried by snow
drifts in a country lane in Elham today
Riverview Park, Gravesend
in the snow earlier today
Hawkinge in the snow this
morning. Picture: Sophie West
Rescuers out in
force on the M20 at Junction 11 as snow hits. Picture: Mark
Sandgate beach near
Folkestone this morning
The Dungeness Road
leading to the power station. Picture: Richard Wenham
Meanwhile, last night The Channel Tunnel was tempoarily closed
at 9pm for just under an hour. A reduced service has since been
operating. That has left a build-up of queueing traffic
tailing back to j10 for Ashford on the M20.
Hundred of motorists were trapped in blizzard conditions
for more than 12 hours last night on the A2 between the Lydden
lights and the A260 junction.
It came after a lorry jack-knifed. Once the lorry was cleared
from the coastbound carriageway, snow drifts built up – some
reported as up to a metre high – which had to be cleared and the
Ian West, who was stuck in the jam, said: There was no movement
for two hours after I first came to a halt just after 8pm.
Sky's helicopter captures
the Operation Stack queues on the M20
Motorists trapped in
blizzards on the A2 between the Lydden lights and the A260
About 200 vehicles
abandoned on the A260 in Folkestone. Picture: @Kent999s
"Then things started moving forward and I had high hopes of
getting home before midnight then it all stopped again.
"You could hear engines being switched on and then off again as
everyone tried to juggle keeping warm with conserving fuel.
"At 3.30am the police moved the cars and lorries to either side
of the carriageway saying they hoped to get a gritter through, but
"The frustration was added to by the fact you could see lorries
getting through on the Canterbury-bound carriageway with no
"As it began to get light a couple of snow ploughs and a gritter
arrived, but it was to be another two hours before we finally got
"It was then we could see why it had taken so long. The wind had
created a snow drift across the road which stretched for 200 metres
and a single track had been carved through it to allow us
Icy conditions on the roads at the A20/A260 junction in
Folkestone and in the Hawkinge area brought traffic to a standstill
on the A20 and M20.
KM Group reporter Sam Lennon took four hours to travel from his
Ashford office to his home in Dover.
He said: "These were horrendous blizzard conditions and the M20
was fast icing up.
The snow didn't just
bring misery: All Saints' Church, Birling, near West
"An accident on the A20 at Capel-le-Ferne caused tailbacks for
miles. I broke off from the queue at the Cheriton turn-off and
joined the crawl of traffic in Folkestone.
"Close to Folkestone Central station I could go no further as
cars were in danger of sliding downhill.
"I had to park the car and try for a train.
"By now it was 8.30pm, two hours into my journey. The train
didn't arrive until 9.45pm and when it reached Dover at 10 it was
held up by another train blocking the platform.
"Another 15 minute wait and I didn't reach my front door until
And a mum from Canterbury was stuck on the A2 for nine
hours last night with an 11-month-old baby and a two-year-old in
Units from the city were sent out to find her and
her children - who she was taking to Disneyland – after she
pulled over in a layby on the Dover-bound carriageway.
She eventually made it back to Canterbury shortly after 9am
The A20 junction with the Hawkinge slip road to Spitfire Hill
was still littered with abandoned cars this morning.
Cars were left abandoned
outside the Ship Inn in Sandgate High Street at Sandgate near
Lorries were parked up three-abreast along the M20 coastbound,
which was closed between Ashford and Folkestone.
One lane of the M20 London-bound was open with traffic moving
Video: Riverview Park
estate, Gravesend earlier today
Meanwhile, one well-known victim of the snow was Kent singer
She became trapped four several hours en route to Sussex.
She said today: "Fortunately for us (we've got) a 4x4, so we're
OK, and we can move, but there are cars that have been abandoned,
cars that have been stranded and cars where the drivers are so
tired they've had to stop to sleep."
Acting Chief Inspector Kay Maynard said: ‘We know how difficult
it has been for many people who felt stranded in their
Siberian conditions at
Junction 11 of the M20 at Hythe today
"We have been trying to get to as many as possible to offer
reassurance, as well as deal with the problems on the roads caused
by collisions and broken down vehicles.
"The volume of snow and the drifting caused in exposed areas has
been a major issue. As soon as roads were cleared and gritted, they
were becoming covered in snow again."
Emergency services dealt with hundreds of calls from motorists
reporting crashes or broken-down vehicles.
On the rails, Southeastern released a statement saying "due to
the snow and freezing temperatures across our network, we're sorry
that some services may be delayed or cancelled.
"Network Rail's conductor rail heating is in place and snow and
ice treatment trains are in use across the network."
On the Eurostar, all services have been suspended at St
Pancras International, at Ebbsfleet International and at Ashford
International due to the weather in northern France.
And there are delays of up to two hours on the DFDS service
between Dover and Calais.
Delays of around an hour are also being felt on the MyFerryLink
service to Calais, with disruptions also to the P&O Ferries'
But highways chiefs have hit back at criticism at gritting on
some of Kent's roads.
Trapped car in Singledge
Lane, Whitfield, Dover. Picture: John Sheridan
John Burr, director of highways and transportation at Kent
County Council, said: "All of our 60 gritters have been out since
yesterday morning, and will continue to patrol until the weather
"We are treating all our primary and secondary routes - which
cover 2,500 miles of road in Kent - which we did last night and
again this morning."
He said the county's team had used JCB diggers to clear
drifts, and enlisted an "army" of farmers to help clear important
back roads and rural routes.
A number of broken-down vehicles during this morning's rush hour
hampered the gritters' work.
We also have hand crews in town centres salting the pavements to
help keep them clear.
He added: "Our gritting crews have been doing the best they can
in these gruelling conditions, and will continue to do so to make
sure everyone gets home safely during the rush hour this
But even the council's gritters weren't immune from crashing in
the weather, as our picture below shows.
It was treacherous weather also for driving instructors.
Martin Philbrick, from Martin's school of Motoring had to stop
driving lessons in Gillingham yesterday, after the roads became too
icy shortly before 5pm.
While he was on a lesson he took this video of a car driving in
the other direction skidding across the road in front of them and
completely turning around.
Meanwhile, one of Kent's top civic events has become a victim of
the snow - but not everyone suffered!
Cold weather may have forced the cancellation of a VIP civic
service in Maidstone today but it brought a warm glow to the
than 700 guests had been expected at the Lord Lieutenant's annual
Civic Service in All Saints Church, Maidstone.
But, fearing the heavy snowfall posed a serious risk to
guests travelling from across the county, organisers called it off
for the first time in nearly 10 years.
It meant that 750 specially ordered lunches prepared by
Morrisons in Park Wood might have gone to waste.
However, quick-thinking Kent County Council secretary Lizzy Adam
remembered that her boss - KCC Chairman Richard King - had
recently attended a Food for Thought event at Maidstone Day
Within minutes of the decision to cancel the service, 750 boxed
meals were on their way to the Community Food Share Project for
homeless and hungry people in the town.
Viscount De L'Isle, Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, said: "I was
disappointed that we had to cancel the service but delighted we
were able to help so many people."
Alan Reading, a trustee of Food for Thought, added: "This was
working together at its best.
"Thank you everyone involved in making this happen. Sometimes
even bad weather can make good things happen."
Twitter was abuzz with
motorists stranded in the snow
Weather forecasters are predicting isolated sleet or snow
showers for the region tonight.
A widespread frost should cause temperatures to plummet to
Tomorrow should see hail, sleet or snow showers becoming
widespread, but not settling. The thermometer should hit 6C.
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