Roads and teeth gritted as temperatures plunge

SNOW brought Christmas card scenery to Winterton at the weekend, turning sand dunes into ski slopes.

Youngsters headed to the closest thing the borough has to hills to whoosh down the icy slopes and make the most of the cold snap – which for everyone else is becoming difficult to enjoy.

Despite looking lovely, giving everything it touches a frosty, glittery glow, the big freeze has been bad news for anyone trying to get from A to B, halting even the shortest journeys – and there’s little hope of a thaw until December 27 at the earliest.

Travellers talked of nightmare journeys taking two hours to get from Great Yarmouth to Acle and six to Stansted Airport.

Meanwhile, others had their getaway plans completely ruined. Paul Rees, 30, from Bradwell had to abandon hopes of Christmas in Australia. After two nights stranded at Heathrow his flight was rescheduled to leave on December 28 – four days before he was due home.

However, in Great Yarmouth, shoppers defied the cold on Saturday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, to give Palmers Department Store a 20pc increase in customers compared to last year.

Director Stuart McGee said sales were up across the board with fragrances and china doing particularly well.

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While Norfolk has been spared the worst of the snow – last Thursday’s stubbornly refusing to shift – daytime temperatures have struggled to reach beyond minus and plummeted to around minus nine on Monday night.

Freezing temperatures have whipped our fingers and faces. Conditions have varied across the borough with main roads being near normal but country lanes and un-gritted residential streets being among the worst hit.

Meanwhile, the borough’s refuse collectors have been showing true grit and not missed a single round.

Ian Barnett, general manager at GYB Services said that even in temperatures of minus 10 degrees the hydraulic lifting gear kept working.

“We have had no problems at all. There were a couple of streets that we couldn’t get down but they just got the bins by hand.

“There were some streets where we had to go back in a smaller vehicle but we have not missed any collections.

“The only service we had to supspend was mechanical sweeping.”

Chris Bell, forecaster at UEA-based WeatherQuest, said it was set to be the coldest December since 1879 with temperatures well below the seasonal average of around six or seven during the day and one or two at night.

On Tuesday, he said the cold temperatures were set to stay and that there was potential for more snow on Wednesday and Thursday.

But overall he was expecting a drier picture, but still cold. Christmas Day would still be white but no more was set to fall, he added. Although milder weather wasn’t likely until Monday, travellers would not face any added problems. “Its pretty historic,” he said. “It’s already the coldest first half of December since 1879 and will probably end up being the coldest.”