Deadly ‘Beast of the East’ winter storm pounds Britain

Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures — from a storm called the “beast of the east” — caused horrendous conditions across Britain Wednesday, as cars piled up in deadly crashes.

A British Army soldier outside Buckingham Palace stands guard during heavy snowfall in London on Wednesday. Heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures have hit Britain, and more heavy snow is expected in the coming days. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
A British Army soldier outside Buckingham Palace stands guard during heavy snowfall in London on Wednesday. Heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures have hit Britain, and more heavy snow is expected in the coming days. Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Police warned motorists to avoid driving because of the treacherous conditions, which caused at least four deaths Tuesday.

As several more inches of snow fell overnight, temperatures plummeted to about 12 degrees Fahrenheit Wednesday, and roadways became impassable — stranding vehicles and causing several crashes. Some communities could be cut off for days, with possible interruptions to power and other services.

Forecasters say the weather won’t clear any time soon, with snow becoming heavier Wednesday — possibly more than 15 inches by Thursday morning in areas across Scotland and northern England. Temperatures could plummet to 5 degrees, officials said.
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Britain’s buses, railways and airports have been flooded with delays and cancellations, and hundreds of schools were closed Wednesday for a second straight day. Some area airports are operating normally, but many flights out of the London City airport have been delayed as workers clear the runways.

A tweet by the East Midlands Operational Support Service Roads and Armed Policing Team sent a message to commuters to travel only when necessary.

By Susan McFarland