Drivers stranded on Sussex roads during heavy overnight snowfall

Traffic at a standstill on St Helens Road, Hastings, after heavy snowfall. 11/3/13
Traffic at a standstill on St Helens Road, Hastings, after heavy snowfall. 11/3/13

Commuters in East Sussex were facing tough trips to work this morning after a night which left many of the county’s roads in chaos.

After several inches of snow across Sussex from mid-afternoon to late evening, the Arctic deluge left some motorists stranded on roads.

Roads around Brighton were particularly hazardous, with late last night Sussex Police putting out a warning to motorists to travel only if necessary.

There were reported tailbacks of up to 15 miles on the A23 between Crawley and Brighton, with some motorists stuck in those queues for up to eight hours. Red Cross volunteers were reported to be helping stranded motorists.

The BBC quoted Tom Schoon, who was heading home to Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, from Eastbourne. He became stuck on the A23 northbound near Handcross Hill at 7.45pm last night.

Speaking this morning, he said: “The carriageway has become a car park. There’s a family in the car behind me all curled up asleep.

“I’ve walked up to the services twice now to go to the toilet, grab food and water and stretch my legs. Around midnight it was quite busy but it’s quieter now.

“Most people are asleep judging by the cars and the feet up on the dashboard. Everyone has reached a stage of acceptance.

“I think people reversed back and went into the services as it looks like a lot of people are sleeping in there.

“As I’m a lanky chap, it’s a bit difficult for me to get comfortable in a small car.”

The A26, A27 and A29 were all affected, as gritting lorries tried to get through to treat the main roads.

Inspector James Biggs from the Road Policing Unit said: “The worst areas at the moment are parts of the A23 and M23 particularly around Handcross Hill.

“Officers are assisting the gritters to try and get them to these areas as soon as possible. If drivers could assist us by allowing the gritters through the congestion as much as possible this would be greatly appreciated.

“Many drivers have been rescued but I know many more have endured long hours stuck in their vehicles. Please bear with us; we are working to full capacity, along with our partners in the Highways Agency to help you. If you are in trouble from a health perspective, or you have very young children with you, then please call 999. Stay in your car and keep warm by running the engine as much as you can.”

“We are grateful to the local media and members of the public who have been re-tweeting our advice and information throughout the evening.”

Sussex Police are continuing to assist drivers stuck across the county due to this evening’s adverse weather conditions.

In East Sussex, the A21, A22, A26 and A27 were all passable but very slow.

The A259 road between Eastbourne and Seaford remains shut because of treacherous driving conditions.

Traffic in Eastbourne last night ground to a halt at around 6pm because of a broken down bus, while traffic in the centre of Hastings fared no better with long tailbacks. St Helen’s Road was at a standstill, with some drivers absolutely furious blaming gritters for not treating the road which is usually clear.

There were accidents on icy roads including reports of a lorry overturning on Queensway. A snow plough was drafted in to clear The Ridge of snow.

Some desperate drivers were forced to abandon their cars by the side of the road after being stuck in gridlocked rush-hour roads.

Signal problems on the railway between Eastbourne and Hastings also severely delayed train commuters on their way home.

Journey times of up to two hours have been reported from Battle to Hastings by road.

Rural roads became treacherous overnight with some routes impassable. Some desperate drivers were forced to abandon their cars by the side of the road after being stuck in gridlocked rush-hour roads.

According to the Met office, up to four inches of snow could have accumulated across Sussex by this morning and they have issued an amber “be prepared” warning”.

Bitterly cold, north-easterly winds are expected to persist across much of England and Wales into today.

Were you stranded on any of the affected roads? How was your journey to work last night and this morning. Send us your pictures or email us your comments to dave.king@jpress.co.uk