Heathrow cancels 189 flights as ice and freezing fog brings chaos to roads and rail

Thousands of passengers scramble for information at Heathrow as 189 flights are cancelled due to ice and freezing fog
98 arrivals and 91 departures called off at Britain's biggest airport
Flights to Warsaw, Stockholm and Germany as well as internal journeys to Manchester and Aberdeen cancelledLondon City Airport also hit by delays and cancellations after temperatures plunged to well below freezing overnightParts of Scotland reached -10C closely followed by Chesham, Buckinghamshire, at -9C and Little Rissington in Gloucestershire at -8CRush-hour commuters faced chaos on major roads including the A1(M) as well as the main line rail and Tube
Spate of accidents on roads, including overturned car and another which crashed into house
Warmer conditions on way, but forecasters warn this will be accompanied by yet more heavy rain until Christmas

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UPDATED:

19:12 GMT, 12 December 2012

Heathrow has been forced to cancel 189 flights to and from the airport today as ice and freezing fog descended on the UK.

Hundreds of passengers are thought to have been stranded both here and abroad after the airport called off 98 arrivals and 91 departures scheduled throughout the day.

Some resorted to creating makeshift beds in the terminal as they awaited updates on their journeys, while others scrambled to get on other flights.

The Met Office has now lifted its fog warning that was in place for parts of England early this morning, but the reduced visibility took longer than expected to clear at Britain's biggest airport.

Freezing temperatures are expected to continue into tomorrow morning around Heathrow before easing off during the day when the mercury rises above zero and the visibility improves. Passengers have been advised to check with their airlines for the latest travel information.

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Travel nightmare: Passengers wait to be rebooked in Terminal 5 as thick fog leads to scores of cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport

Travel nightmare: Passengers wait to be rebooked in Terminal 5 as thick fog leads to scores of cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport

Chaos: Queues of people wait to check into other available flights after their original journeys were called off

Chaos: Queues of people wait to check into other available flights after their original journeys were called off

Hunkering down: Passengers sleep in Heathrow Terminal 5 after their flight was delayed due to the ice and fog

Hunkering down: Passengers sleep in Heathrow Terminal 5 after their flight was delayed due to the ice and fog

Cancellations also hit Leeds Bradford, London City and Bristol airports.

British Airways has apologised to customers and said it was doing 'everything we can' to help.

A
spokesman said: 'We are sorry for the inconvenience and our customers
on cancelled flights can rebook to a later date or claim a refund.

'We
try to put passengers on other flights where possible. If it went to
it, we would offer customers overnight accommodation, but I'm not aware
that has been necessary at this stage.

'We are also advising customers to check the status of their flight on BA.com before travelling to their departure airport.'

Uncertain times: Heathrow is advising passengers to check travel updates with their airlines

Uncertain times: Heathrow is advising passengers to check travel updates with their airlines

Getting her head down... of sorts: Heathrow said the fog was expected to lift between 9am and 10am

Spelling it out: An information board at Terminal 5 of Heathrow, shows several cancelled flights this morning

Getting her head down… of sorts: A woman grabs some shuteye (left) as
the departure board at Heathrow's Terminal 5 (right) spells out the
cancellations today

VIDEO: Planes landing through the fog at Heathrow…

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Confusion: Passengers queue up hoping to depart from Terminal 5 at Heathrow, London, as they await announcements on their flights

Confusion: Passengers queue up hoping to depart from Terminal 5 at Heathrow, London, as they await announcements on their flights

He was unable to say how many BA flights had been cancelled or how many passengers had been affected.

Cancelled
flights include scheduled trips to Warsaw, Nice, Stockholm and several
German cities, as well as internal flights to Manchester and Aberdeen.

The disruption comes after around 60
flights were cancelled at Heathrow yesterday, although the freezing fog
was not the reason in all cases.

It was initially hoped the fog would lift between 9am and 10am, but at lunchtime the airport said it was still lingering.

Takes longer than your windscreen: A British Airways plane is di-iced before take-off as thick fog leads to cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport

Takes longer than your windscreen: A British Airways plane is di-iced before take-off as thick fog leads to cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport

Poor visibility: British Airways planes are shrouded in thick fog as they wait for the all-clear to depart amid a string of cancellations and delays this rmoming

Poor visibility: British Airways planes are shrouded in thick fog as they wait for the all-clear to depart amid a string of cancellations and delays this rmoming

A
spokeswoman for Heathrow told MailOnline: 'There will be disruption
throughout the day and into tonight. It is not as foggy as it was, but
it is dragging on a bit.'

One
passenger, JC Landman, wrote on Twitter: 'At London Heathrow. Many
flights are delayed and cancelled due to the weather. Let's hope I make
it back home soon.'

‏@qboy1987 said: 'Flight to heathrow delayed!! Sitting at glasgow airport like a fat loner sipping on my frap #starbucks.'

Heathrow said cancelling in advance helped airlines accommodate passengers on other flights.

She said: 'Some flights have been cancelled and some are being cancelled (in the morning) because of fog.

'The advice we are giving to passengers is to check with their airlines.'

Given the all-clear: An American Airlines plane taxis to the runway as Heathrow announced it had cancelled nearly 189 flights because of the adverse weather conditions

Given the all-clear: An American Airlines plane taxis to the runway as Heathrow announced it had cancelled nearly 189 flights because of the adverse weather conditions

Travel chaos: Heathrow reported a total of 70 cancellations affecting incoming and outgoing flights today

Travel chaos: Heathrow reported a total of 70 cancellations affecting incoming and outgoing flights today

WHY DOES FOG CREATE SUCH CHAOS

Just like motorists, pilots have to leave more space between planes in reduced visibility.

As such, fewer aircraft can land or take-off each hour.

Heathrow says most airports around the world have spare runway capacity which means planes can be spaced out further and still not cause delays.

Britain's biggest airport, however, is unusual in that it currently has a 99 per cent capacity, with jets landing or taking off every 45 seconds.

While some will question why planes need to increase the distances between them when they are equipped with such advanced technology, Heathrow says the problems actually occur when they touch down.

When visibility is poor at Heathrow, the spacing on approach is increased from a minimum of three miles to six miles to ensure that aircraft have cleared the runway before the following aircraft is given landing clearance.

Aircraft are also more widely spaced when manoeuvring or taxiing at the airport.

Heathrow says it will often choose to cancel flights in advance in an attempt to minimise disruption for passengers.

This can allow airlines to rebook customers onto unallocated seats on other flights and help prevent journeys being cancelled at short notice, which reduces the changes of passengers staying at terminals overnight. 'It's
better to cancel flights when there's fog because in fog you can't land
as many planes per hour because you have to leave more space between
the planes.

She said the terminals were busier
than usual, but not chaotic. 'We have got people giving out information
and helping passengers out,' she added.

London City Airport cancelled six
early morning flights to European cities and reported a number of delays
on arrival boards.

A message on the airport's Twitter
page early this morning said: 'Visibility has not improved, flight disruptions are present
& expected to continue until further notice. Please call your
airline for info.'

Cancellations also hit Leeds Bradford and Bristol airports.

It is further disruption to
passengers less than a week after more than 40 flights were cancelled at
Stansted and Luton Airports following snowfall.

Flights out of Luton and Gatwick airports were unaffected by the frosty conditions this morning.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport
said some flights unable to land at London City Airport because of the
weather had been diverted to Gatwick.

In
the coming days large swathes of the country are expected to experience
adverse weather after one of the coldest nights of the year.

The
temperature plummeted to minus 10C (14F) in some parts of the country
overnight on Monday, with Scotland experiencing the lowest temperatures.

Other
overnight cold spots included Chesham in Buckinghamshire at -9C (16F)
and Little Rissington in Gloucestershire where it was -8C (18F).

There
was congestion on a number of major road routes, while a section of the
A1(M) between junctions 39 and 40 in Yorkshire was closed.

On
the railways, overhead wire problems caused 50-minute delays in the
rush-hour between Bedford and Luton, while a broken-down train at
Watford Junction in Hertfordshire also caused hold-ups.

There were similar problems between Northampton and Rugby which led to buses replacing trains between Northampton and Coventry.

Meanwhile,
an hourly train shuttle was running between Coventry and Birmingham New
Street, with journey times in the area extended by up to 60 minutes.

Shrouded: A view from Surrey Hills near Warlingham looking over New Addington showing Canary Wharf enveloped in fog this morning due to the cold temperatures overnight

Shrouded: A view from Surrey Hills near Warlingham looking over New Addington showing Canary Wharf enveloped in fog this morning due to the cold temperatures

Crisp and even: These trees and fields in Essex are dusted white with frost as temperatures dropped to -5C overnight

Crisp and even: These trees and fields in Essex are dusted white with frost as temperatures dropped to -5C

There were also overhead wire problems affecting services in and out of London's King's Cross station.

The bad weather disrupted services at Christ's Hospital in Sussex, with trains between Barnham and Horsham delayed.

A broken-down train at Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire led to delays of up to 45 minutes between Leicester and Peterborough.

An
electrical supply problem led to delays to train services between
Seaford and Lewes in East Sussex, while a signalling problem caused
hold-ups to services in and out of another Sussex coastal station –
Brighton.

In Scotland, a broken-down train at Bathgate led to delays between Edinburgh and Airdrie.

On
the Tube, there were severe delays on the Metropolitan line between
Rickmansworth and Amersham and minor delays on the rest of the line due
to a lack of trains.

There
were also severe delays between High Barnet and Finchley Central on the
Northern line due to a signal failure at Woodside Park.

Another
signal failure – at Arnos Grove in north London – led to delays on the
Tube’s Piccadilly line between Arnos Grove and Cockfosters.

Carnage: This Peugeot ploughed into a family's living room as they were eating breakfast after careering off an icy road in Southampton

Carnage: This Peugeot ploughed into a family's living room as they were eating breakfast after careering off an icy road in Southampton

Perilous: The road wasn't gritted ahead because it was classed by the council as a 'priority B' route

Perilous: The road wasn't gritted ahead because it was classed by the council as a 'priority B' route

Dangerous: A car lies on its side in the middle of a country road after overturning in treacherous conditions

Dangerous: A car lies on its side in the middle of a country road after overturning in treacherous conditions

A main road in Sussex has been closed following a five-car crash caused by ice this morning.

The A24 in Horsham has been shut
following the crash at 10.05am, said West Sussex Fire and Rescue, who
described road conditions as 'slippy' and they had recommended people to
stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

At 10.05am on the A264 at Broadbridge Heath, Sussex, there was also a two-car crash.
There were reports of several other accidents on other roads in the area.

Meanwhile,
a family's breakfast was abruptly interrupted when a car careered off
an icy road and smashed through their living room window.

Despite
being a busy bus route and having a school on the road, it had not been
gritted as, according to the council, it is a 'priority B' street.

Hard going: Fog envelopes St Peter's Bridge in Burton On Trent, Staffordshire as road, rail and air travellers face major disruption

Hard going: Fog envelopes St Peter's Bridge in Burton On Trent, Staffordshire as road, rail and air travellers face major disruption

Careful where you go: A cyclist negotiates the foggy conditions in south Derbyshire

Careful where you go: A cyclist negotiates the foggy conditions in south Derbyshire

Neighbours are demanding action to improve the safety on the street before someone is seriously injured.

David
and Megan Draper were enjoying breakfast at around 8am with their young
son Daniel when the silver Peugeot 206 ploughed into their home – the
fourth time their house has been crashed into in just five years.

The home, in Southampton, Hampshire, is just a couple of doors down from the entrance to a secondary school.

Mrs
Draper said: 'If this had happened 30 minutes later, school pupils
would have been walking past and one of them may have been seriously
injured.

'Crashes like this
have happened before on this corner and we have already asked the
council to bring in traffic calming measures.

'But the council say they have no record of any accidents.

'We can only hope something will be done though given how many children are in danger when walking up and down this road.'

Chilly start: Breakfast for these cows just got a whole lot crunchier as a frost covers their grass

Chilly start: Breakfast for these cows just got a whole lot crunchier as a frost covers their grass

Mr Draper said the unharmed driver was 'very apologetic'.

Matt
Dobson, a senior forecaster with the Press Association’s weather
division, MeteoGroup, said: 'Some places where the fog lingers will
struggle to get above freezing today.

'London and the South East, where the sun will eventually come through, may reach around 3-4C (37-39F).

'But in places such as the Vale of York and in the Scottish Glens it may stay as cold as minus 3C (27F) in daylight hours.

'This cold spell won’t last. The fog will lift. But although the big change on Thursday night, with an Atlantic front moving in, will mean higher temperatures, there is likely to be a lot of wet weather.

'The south of England could be very wet on Friday and we are likely to see wet conditions all the way up to Christmas.

'The exception could be a short, cold snap in the weekend before Christmas.'