Icy hell causes havoc on roads

Drivers inch their way past abandoned cars in Falmer Road, Brighton, yesterday morning

Drivers inch their way past abandoned cars in Falmer Road, Brighton, yesterday morning

First published in News
Last updated

Snow-ridden roads led to traffic chaos with hundreds unable to get home.

Drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles after a sudden snowstorm left roads impassable on Tuesday, January 22, turning some streets into virtual car parks.

But roads officials last night claimed there was nothing more they could have done.

About 5cm of snow fell in Sussex from around 4pm, with higher ground most affected.

Wheels skidded and cars slid as they failed to cope with the conditions.

People were stuck in their vehicles for several hours while trying to head home after ice and snow made the roads treacherous.

Many feared they would have to sleep in their cars in freezing temperatures overnight as traffic was at a standstill.

Motorists abandoned their cars and were forced to dig them out of the snow yesterday morning.

Cars towed

Sussex Police towed unclaimed vehicles from Falmer Road to American Express Community stadium.

Scores contacted The Argus to vent their anger and ask how the roads had become such slippery slopes.

Many accused the councils of failing to grit the roads, leaving them to become ice rivers.

The Argus: Abandoned car sign in Falmer Road, Brighton

But council bosses and the Highways Agency – which is responsible for maintaining major routes – insisted roads were salted regularly on Tuesday and instead blamed the heavy snowfall for the problems.

The Highways Agency said the A27, which saw queues of more than four hours between Brighton and Lewes, was gritted at 1pm and 4.30pm.

Finger of blame

It said the “exceptionally heavy snowfall” meant “even the best plans” would not keep roads completely free of disruption.

The agency also pointed the finger of blame at Brighton and Hove City Council by citing the poor conditions on local roads such as Falmer Road and Coldean Lane.

Brighton and Hove City Council said it had sent out all its gritters, including its “go-anywhere” machine fitted with a snow plough.

A spokesman insisted all its main roads were gritted three times on Tuesday but was unable to say at what times.

Series of accidents

The council said traffic jams from accidents and abandoned vehicles also contributed to the problems.

The ice-ridden roads caused havoc with a series of accidents on Tuesday.

In Falmer Road, an 11-year-old girl suffered head and pelvic injuries when she was hit by a car at the Cowley Drive junction at 4.15pm.

A 19-year-old girl was also taken to hospital after being hit by a car in Preston Drove at the junction with London Road at about 5.10pm.

There were also reports of a collision on the A27 just west of the King George VI Avenue junction, multiple collisions in Bear Road and some on Carden Hill too.

The Argus: Bus on King George VI Avenue by Mark Newman

Argus reader Mike Newman sent in this photograph of a bus struggling in the snow on King George VI Avenue, Hove.

Police had to close the slip road onto the eastbound carriageway of the A27 at Hollingbury as so many cars were sliding on the hill.

More than 30 cars were left behind on the A27 between Lewes and Brighton, causing delays yesterday morning (January 23).

The scene was similar with cars ditched in Ditchling Road or abandoned in Falmer Road.

A further crash involving two vehicles happened in Ditchling Road at about 7.40am yesterday (pictured below). Neither drivers was hurt, but the road was blocked for some time.

The Argus: Ditchling Road crash

What do you think? To what extent do you believe more could have been done to improve conditions during Tuesday's snow? Share your views below or with our readers by writing to to the letters editor, email letters@theargus.co.uk

Snow woes

The Argus has been inundated with people stuck in the ice and snow traffic on Tuesday night.

Owen Uglow took three hours to get home from Brighton Racecourse to Woodingdean with his girlfriend.

He said: “It was an evening we will never forget, an absolute nightmare.”

Pat Hermann spent more than seven hours in his car and had to be rescued from the A27 after his vehicle broke down in the queues.

The 30-year-old left his work in Preston Park at 4.45pm on Tuesday and was eventually picked up at about midnight.

He said: “I was convinced I was going to have to sleep in my car.”

Jenny Money was stuck travelling to Lewes for three hours.

She said: “My son lives in Stockholm and they all know how to drive in the snow.

“There was far less snow here but a lot of people were panicking.”

Jackie Wrench’s nightmare journey home from Uckfield began when she passed the Lewes roundabout – taking her two hours to get from there to Falmer.

She said: “More and more people had to abandon their cars.

“One young man had run for half an hour to bring milk for his baby.

“There were people in the fast lane with shovels trying to dig the snow away from their wheels, there were tractors squeezing around cars, and people, complete chaos.”

Chris Coleman was stuck for three and a half hours trying to get from the A23/A27 junction to the Ashcombe roundabout.

He said: “There didn't seem to be heavy snow, less than an inch gathered between the lanes of traffic, but the road clearly hadn't been gritted.”

It took Lucy Brooks five hours to get home from Woodingdean to Worthing.

She said: “There was no information, no gritters, no police or Highways Authority visible. It was a frightening drive.”

Miriam Rawson was stuck on the A27 for hours.

She said: “It all seemed like a surreal bad dream yesterday morning.”

Snow heroes

A butcher got on his quad bike to help a pregnant woman in the snow.

Adam Wickenden, pictured below, had been at work at 5am but went out on his quad bike 12 hours later to help his sister who was stranded in Falmer Road.

The Argus: Adam Wickenden

He then headed out again to help his friend’s husband and after spotting a pregnant woman struggling in the snow went out a third time to rescue her, only getting home after 10pm.

His wife Louise said: “You have to have a pretty big heart to go out in the freezing cold and help.”

Donna Stinton, the manager at Enara Community Care in Woodingdean, thanked the care workers, who abandoned their cars and walked in the severe weather last night and for the previous four days in all areas of Brighton.

She said: “They were walking to our elderly vulnerable clients, to ensure they receive the care they need. This shows dedication.”

Patricia Ancell was overwhelmed by the kindness of staff at Brighton General Hospital after going there for an appointment.

Mrs Ancell, who is in her 80s, was stranded when the snow fell as no taxis would go to her home in Woodingdean.

But nurses who were due to clock off at 6pm stayed on until 7pm and organised for a 4x4 ambulance from Portslade to take two hours to take her home.

She said: “They went beyond the call of duty. I am so grateful.”

The Argus: Marcelo Staricoff

Neighbours of Hertford Infant School praised headteacher Marcelo Staricoff, pictured above with his snow shovel, who has been outside every morning clearing snow.

Cobby Wilson said: “He was there from 7am with a shovel so children can get to school.

“He deserves recognition.”

More misery

Motorists are set for more misery as forecasters predict the cold weather will last until the weekend.

Temperatures will hover around zero degrees Celsius today (January 24) with a severe ice warning issued from the Met Office for this morning.

And tomorrow (January 25) will continue to be cold until the evening, when the temperature will rise to up to 6 degrees Celsius but it will rain heavily.

Our live blog has been keeping people informed with the latest traffic and weather news.

Tens of thousands have flocked to the site to get updates on how the snow and ice will affect them.

Our blog made sure all the traffic problems on Tuesday night were reported to you as soon as possible to help you plan your journey home.

We have given you the latest school closures so you can plan your day accordingly and we have told you of the most up-to-the-minute weather forecast so you know what to expect.

You can find out all the latest information, as well as photo and video galleries, by visiting The Argus online snow section.

See the latest news headlines from The Argus:

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Comments (20)

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1:41pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Pitviper says...

Tuesday, January 24th??? surely you mean 22nd
Tuesday, January 24th??? surely you mean 22nd Pitviper
  • Score: 0

2:03pm Thu 24 Jan 13

leobrighton says...

They would have been ok if they had been properly prepared. That means having snow chains in the car to attach to the tyres in the snowy weather. This is what they do in other countries and is the reason they can drive in the snow. But no not here. Just blame the council.
They would have been ok if they had been properly prepared. That means having snow chains in the car to attach to the tyres in the snowy weather. This is what they do in other countries and is the reason they can drive in the snow. But no not here. Just blame the council. leobrighton
  • Score: 0

2:14pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Pitviper says...

I managed to get home to Eastbourne from Brighton on the A27 but I'm not sure I could have got through the Falmer road even with my winter tyres and snow socks, it was pretty bad. You can't always blame the council, a lot has to do with drivers inability to cope with adverse weather conditions mainly because they were ill prepared despite earlier warnings.
I managed to get home to Eastbourne from Brighton on the A27 but I'm not sure I could have got through the Falmer road even with my winter tyres and snow socks, it was pretty bad. You can't always blame the council, a lot has to do with drivers inability to cope with adverse weather conditions mainly because they were ill prepared despite earlier warnings. Pitviper
  • Score: 0

2:30pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Morpheus says...

What has the council actually done? There is no sign of any snow in low lying areas of Brighton, but come up to the race course and it looks as though the council has made no attempt to clear the snow.
What has the council actually done? There is no sign of any snow in low lying areas of Brighton, but come up to the race course and it looks as though the council has made no attempt to clear the snow. Morpheus
  • Score: 0

3:06pm Thu 24 Jan 13

brightonian57 says...

It didn't help that the council have built chicanes into the Lewes Road. If it had been two lanes each way it would have flowed much better than it did, as it was 2 lanes were being squeezed into 1 and then back to 2. It's a good example of what it will be like when it is a single lane each way
It didn't help that the council have built chicanes into the Lewes Road. If it had been two lanes each way it would have flowed much better than it did, as it was 2 lanes were being squeezed into 1 and then back to 2. It's a good example of what it will be like when it is a single lane each way brightonian57
  • Score: 0

3:15pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Ballroom Blitz says...

brightonian57 wrote:
It didn't help that the council have built chicanes into the Lewes Road. If it had been two lanes each way it would have flowed much better than it did, as it was 2 lanes were being squeezed into 1 and then back to 2. It's a good example of what it will be like when it is a single lane each way
Very good point. The other is that the skills required to drive in icy and snowy conditions are beyond 95% of all drivers. But do they stay at home? No. They block roads are make them impassable.
[quote][p][bold]brightonian57[/bold] wrote: It didn't help that the council have built chicanes into the Lewes Road. If it had been two lanes each way it would have flowed much better than it did, as it was 2 lanes were being squeezed into 1 and then back to 2. It's a good example of what it will be like when it is a single lane each way[/p][/quote]Very good point. The other is that the skills required to drive in icy and snowy conditions are beyond 95% of all drivers. But do they stay at home? No. They block roads are make them impassable. Ballroom Blitz
  • Score: 0

4:06pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Da Prof says...

All drivers should receive training in how to cope with adverse conditions such as fog, ice, snow or mud, including when to leave the car at home!!

It should be mandatory for all drivers to have at the very least skid pan training, and having something similar for snow and ice is not difficult, artificial snow and ice are easy enough to make!

We have two cars, one of which is a 4x4 with snow chains and proper off-road capability. I did not drive to work in my car in these conditions, but instead got a lift from my other half in the 4x4.

Common sense seems to be in short supply among many drivers who always seem to be unprepared for adverse weather conditions.
All drivers should receive training in how to cope with adverse conditions such as fog, ice, snow or mud, including when to leave the car at home!! It should be mandatory for all drivers to have at the very least skid pan training, and having something similar for snow and ice is not difficult, artificial snow and ice are easy enough to make! We have two cars, one of which is a 4x4 with snow chains and proper off-road capability. I did not drive to work in my car in these conditions, but instead got a lift from my other half in the 4x4. Common sense seems to be in short supply among many drivers who always seem to be unprepared for adverse weather conditions. Da Prof
  • Score: 0

4:53pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Number Six says...

I don't think my hindsight chip is working. There was no hint of snow where I was until gone 4.00pm There wasn't anything wrong with my driving, the reason it took me three and a half hours to get home was because of the bus that got stuck on Clayton Hill
I don't think my hindsight chip is working. There was no hint of snow where I was until gone 4.00pm There wasn't anything wrong with my driving, the reason it took me three and a half hours to get home was because of the bus that got stuck on Clayton Hill Number Six
  • Score: 0

5:28pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Tammy Flugh says...

Icy hell? Five cm of snow? As an expat from the North of England, I couldn't keep a straight face while reading this article.
Icy hell? Five cm of snow? As an expat from the North of England, I couldn't keep a straight face while reading this article. Tammy Flugh
  • Score: 0

6:11pm Thu 24 Jan 13

saraman says...

Tammy Flugh wrote:
Icy hell? Five cm of snow? As an expat from the North of England, I couldn't keep a straight face while reading this article.
''Icy hell'', that's a contradiction of terms if I ever saw one.
[quote][p][bold]Tammy Flugh[/bold] wrote: Icy hell? Five cm of snow? As an expat from the North of England, I couldn't keep a straight face while reading this article.[/p][/quote]''Icy hell'', that's a contradiction of terms if I ever saw one. saraman
  • Score: 0

6:46pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Hove Actually says...

Hell will freeze over before the Brighton & Hove council grit any road that Woger French doesn't need to keep the Private company he works for in the money...
Hell will freeze over before the Brighton & Hove council grit any road that Woger French doesn't need to keep the Private company he works for in the money... Hove Actually
  • Score: 0

7:45pm Thu 24 Jan 13

qm says...

The Highways Agency said the A27, which saw queues of more than four hours between Brighton and Lewes, was gritted at 1pm and 4.30pm.

Absolute rubbish - an unforgivable deceit!!!!
The Highways Agency said the A27, which saw queues of more than four hours between Brighton and Lewes, was gritted at 1pm and 4.30pm. Absolute rubbish - an unforgivable deceit!!!! qm
  • Score: 0

7:48pm Thu 24 Jan 13

bluemonday says...

Hove Actually wrote:
Hell will freeze over before the Brighton & Hove council grit any road that Woger French doesn't need to keep the Private company he works for in the money...
ask b+h bus co to park all the buses up the next time it snows so nobody gets home,you should be grateful they were running
[quote][p][bold]Hove Actually[/bold] wrote: Hell will freeze over before the Brighton & Hove council grit any road that Woger French doesn't need to keep the Private company he works for in the money...[/p][/quote]ask b+h bus co to park all the buses up the next time it snows so nobody gets home,you should be grateful they were running bluemonday
  • Score: 0

8:05pm Thu 24 Jan 13

nocando says...

Skill deficit from the average motorist is the problem here. I've had my motorcycle and my skip lorry through all this nonsense without falling off, knocking anything over or abandoning ship. The lack of feel and vehicle control from people who don't even know what that means is a fairly dismal portrayal of the driving standard required to get a licence in this country. They can't feather the gas, gears and steer properly but they're up to speed on the i pod dock and sat nav.
As above, 95% **** poor drivers.
Skill deficit from the average motorist is the problem here. I've had my motorcycle and my skip lorry through all this nonsense without falling off, knocking anything over or abandoning ship. The lack of feel and vehicle control from people who don't even know what that means is a fairly dismal portrayal of the driving standard required to get a licence in this country. They can't feather the gas, gears and steer properly but they're up to speed on the i pod dock and sat nav. As above, 95% **** poor drivers. nocando
  • Score: 0

9:33pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Dave At Home says...

bluemonday wrote:
Hove Actually wrote:
Hell will freeze over before the Brighton & Hove council grit any road that Woger French doesn't need to keep the Private company he works for in the money...
ask b+h bus co to park all the buses up the next time it snows so nobody gets home,you should be grateful they were running
Guess you don't live on the outskirts then, most buses didn't venture outside the Boundary Road, Preston Circus, Eastern Road area after 4pm.
[quote][p][bold]bluemonday[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hove Actually[/bold] wrote: Hell will freeze over before the Brighton & Hove council grit any road that Woger French doesn't need to keep the Private company he works for in the money...[/p][/quote]ask b+h bus co to park all the buses up the next time it snows so nobody gets home,you should be grateful they were running[/p][/quote]Guess you don't live on the outskirts then, most buses didn't venture outside the Boundary Road, Preston Circus, Eastern Road area after 4pm. Dave At Home
  • Score: 0

10:19pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Maxwell's Ghost says...

There is no snow today, yet the Lewes Road at 7pm was jammed from Coombe Road right up to the Avenue.
Cars trying to turn right across the Lewes Road into the Avenue could not break through the solid line of traffic and cars then all started to reverse up.
I cycled up Coombe Road tonight and at 7pm traffic was queued up three quarters of the way down to the lights because of the new single lane of traffic.
Even without snow this route and surrounding roads is now a nightmare so it probably didn't help.
Dear Argus, take your video camera out and film the vast queue of traffic in the new single lane. If you stand and film the queue you can also get the bendy buses travelling the opposite direction completely empty bumper-to-bumper and perhaps then Cllr Kitkat cannot ignore the truth of his envrionmental vandalism. Thanks for wrecking our communities.
There is no snow today, yet the Lewes Road at 7pm was jammed from Coombe Road right up to the Avenue. Cars trying to turn right across the Lewes Road into the Avenue could not break through the solid line of traffic and cars then all started to reverse up. I cycled up Coombe Road tonight and at 7pm traffic was queued up three quarters of the way down to the lights because of the new single lane of traffic. Even without snow this route and surrounding roads is now a nightmare so it probably didn't help. Dear Argus, take your video camera out and film the vast queue of traffic in the new single lane. If you stand and film the queue you can also get the bendy buses travelling the opposite direction completely empty bumper-to-bumper and perhaps then Cllr Kitkat cannot ignore the truth of his envrionmental vandalism. Thanks for wrecking our communities. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 0

11:39pm Thu 24 Jan 13

martyt says...

Da Prof wrote:
All drivers should receive training in how to cope with adverse conditions such as fog, ice, snow or mud, including when to leave the car at home!!

It should be mandatory for all drivers to have at the very least skid pan training, and having something similar for snow and ice is not difficult, artificial snow and ice are easy enough to make!

We have two cars, one of which is a 4x4 with snow chains and proper off-road capability. I did not drive to work in my car in these conditions, but instead got a lift from my other half in the 4x4.

Common sense seems to be in short supply among many drivers who always seem to be unprepared for adverse weather conditions.
do you not all so think that all drivers should be re tested every 5 years or at the very least have a medical very 5 years to make sure they can still cope with driving
[quote][p][bold]Da Prof[/bold] wrote: All drivers should receive training in how to cope with adverse conditions such as fog, ice, snow or mud, including when to leave the car at home!! It should be mandatory for all drivers to have at the very least skid pan training, and having something similar for snow and ice is not difficult, artificial snow and ice are easy enough to make! We have two cars, one of which is a 4x4 with snow chains and proper off-road capability. I did not drive to work in my car in these conditions, but instead got a lift from my other half in the 4x4. Common sense seems to be in short supply among many drivers who always seem to be unprepared for adverse weather conditions.[/p][/quote]do you not all so think that all drivers should be re tested every 5 years or at the very least have a medical very 5 years to make sure they can still cope with driving martyt
  • Score: 0

8:04am Fri 25 Jan 13

rolivan says...

Christmas Eve1967 that was snow as high as a double decker bus in woodingdean,The police could have helped by keeping traffic moving at intersections
Christmas Eve1967 that was snow as high as a double decker bus in woodingdean,The police could have helped by keeping traffic moving at intersections rolivan
  • Score: 0

11:59am Fri 25 Jan 13

censored says...

Thanks to the Argus, I'm now going to get a lot of sex from women who said they'd shag me when hell freezes over.

Now I have proof!
Thanks to the Argus, I'm now going to get a lot of sex from women who said they'd shag me when hell freezes over. Now I have proof! censored
  • Score: 0

11:56am Sat 26 Jan 13

Da Prof says...

martyt wrote:
Da Prof wrote:
All drivers should receive training in how to cope with adverse conditions such as fog, ice, snow or mud, including when to leave the car at home!!

It should be mandatory for all drivers to have at the very least skid pan training, and having something similar for snow and ice is not difficult, artificial snow and ice are easy enough to make!

We have two cars, one of which is a 4x4 with snow chains and proper off-road capability. I did not drive to work in my car in these conditions, but instead got a lift from my other half in the 4x4.

Common sense seems to be in short supply among many drivers who always seem to be unprepared for adverse weather conditions.
do you not all so think that all drivers should be re tested every 5 years or at the very least have a medical very 5 years to make sure they can still cope with driving
Martyt

Yes I agree that regular retesting would be sensible. Five years is rather a short interval. At present the photo card licences need renewal every ten years, so it would make sense to retest (with a letter from one's doctor / optician certifying one's fitness) at the same time.
[quote][p][bold]martyt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Da Prof[/bold] wrote: All drivers should receive training in how to cope with adverse conditions such as fog, ice, snow or mud, including when to leave the car at home!! It should be mandatory for all drivers to have at the very least skid pan training, and having something similar for snow and ice is not difficult, artificial snow and ice are easy enough to make! We have two cars, one of which is a 4x4 with snow chains and proper off-road capability. I did not drive to work in my car in these conditions, but instead got a lift from my other half in the 4x4. Common sense seems to be in short supply among many drivers who always seem to be unprepared for adverse weather conditions.[/p][/quote]do you not all so think that all drivers should be re tested every 5 years or at the very least have a medical very 5 years to make sure they can still cope with driving[/p][/quote]Martyt Yes I agree that regular retesting would be sensible. Five years is rather a short interval. At present the photo card licences need renewal every ten years, so it would make sense to retest (with a letter from one's doctor / optician certifying one's fitness) at the same time. Da Prof
  • Score: 0

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