One dead, thousands without power and the first October snow in London in 74 YEARS as Arctic blast sweeps across UK
Thu, 30 Oct 2008 07:29 UTC
Just two days after the end of British Summertime, the first snowfall of the year saw a lorry driver killed when his vehicle collided with another lorry on the M40 in Buckinghamshire.
Tonnes of lard being carried in one of the lorries was left strewn over all six lanes of the motorway causing long delays.
Thousands of homeowners were today without power after high voltage cables were brought down by the night's snowfall.
Clusters of homes in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire were affected and energy provider EDF said it would work throughout the day to reconnect supplies.
Even London was hit by a light dusting last night - the first time the capital has seen snow in October since 1934.
The last time snow settled on London in October, Britain was in the midst of an economic depression, the prime minister was losing his grip on power and Spurs were at the start of a season that would see them relegated from top flight football.
As the French say, plus ca change.
While the capital woke to its first October blanketing since 1934, the rest of the South had its first pre-Halloween snowfalls since the 1970s.
The unseasonal flurries, caused by a blast of air from the Arctic, were welcomed by millions of children in the middle of their half-term holidays.
But thousands of homes were without power in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire after two inches of snow damaged high voltage cables in temperatures of minus 4c.
The icy conditions also brought chaos to the roads across the South, Midlands and East Anglia. And commuter trains ground to a halt when snow fell off overhanging branches onto the lines.
While the wintry dusting soon vanished in Wednesday's sunshine and showers, more snow was forecast for Wales last night.
Bookmakers were forced to slash the odds of a white Christmas from 8/1 to 6/1 in London after a flurry of bets, despite assurances from the Met Office that the winter will be a mild one.
Forecasters said temperatures would start to rise over the next few days.
Met Office spokesman Barry Gromett said: 'The last time snow was on the ground in the South East in October was 1974, while London hasn't had October snow on the ground for 74 years.'
In 1934, Britain was in the fifth year of the Great Depression - an economic downturn fuelled by greedy bankers and incompetent economists.