ROADS in a North-East town came to a standstill on Wednesday (February 13), after persistent snowfall led to treacherous driving conditions.

Heavy snow and freezing temperatures saw drifts of up to 15cm on higher ground and caused widespread travel chaos on the roads and in the air.

Snow fell from the early part of the day and continued for several hours, with as much as 15cm in some parts of the region, leading to slippy road surfaces by the afternoon rush-hour.

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Vehicles on Victoria Road, in Darlington, struggled to get a grip of the road surface, as snow turned to slush on the sloping ring road.

Ten staff from the nearby Sainsbury’s store, as well as police officers and passers-by, worked to keep traffic moving by throwing salt on the icy road.

Paul Robinson, the store’s customer services manager, said: “It was all hands on deck, a lot of cars were getting stuck so colleagues were helping push them up the hill.

“The road slopes quite significantly outside our store, so we aided with vehicle recovery.”

Other main routes in the town were gridlocked by the evening rush-hour, with journeys from work to home taking two or three times longer than normal.

Elsewhere, flights were suspended at Durham Tees Valley Airport and household waste recycling centres had to close at Pity Me, Annfield Plain and Leadgate, in County Durham. There were no reports of any school closures.

Anticipating the snow, the Met Office had issued a severe weather warning for the region and police and councils urged motorists to take care on the roads.

Higher levels such as the North Pennines and North York Moors saw the deepest drifts.

By 9am, 10cm of snow had fallen in the Teesdale village of Copley, near Bishop Auckland.

Forecasters say Wednesday’s snowfall looks like being a one-off, with milder air from the west expected to see temperatures nudging towards 10C in the later part of the week.

Tony Conlan, a forecaster from MeteoGroup, the weather arm of the Press Association, said: “Thursday looks mostly dry with sunny spells and a small chance of a shower over the Penines.

“Friday should definitely be dry, with plenty of sunshine.”

Mr Conlan said the region could look forward to a settled weekend.