THOUSANDS of people woke to power cuts, blocked roads and several feet of snow yesterday, days after record high temperatures in the region.

However, after yesterday’s chaotic start, forecasters believe the worst has passed and predict a warm, but wet, Easter weekend.

The power cut hit at about 7pm on Tuesday and affected about 40,000 homes in the Derwentside area of County Durham.

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Twelve-thousand homes in the Whitby area were also cut off.

Last night Northern Powergrid said 12,000 homes in the North-East and Yorkshire were still without power.

A spokesman said: “Engineers are carrying out repairs on 120 known fault incidents and will continue working into the night to restore power.

“We would like to apologise to those customers still experiencing power supply problems.”

Ernie and Wendy Arkley, of The Bungalows, Ebchester, County Durham, were about to watch Emmerdale when the power went off.

It did not come back on for 17 hours.

Mrs Arkley, 65, said: “We have got gas central heating, but it also needs electricity to work, so we had to put extra clothes on.”

Dawn Dodds, 49, of The Bungalows, Ebchester, said: “It has been cold, but we have just had to put on extra layers to keep warm.

“It has been a nightmare.”

A number of roads were closed by the snow, including the Transpennine A66 to Cumbria and the A68 between Tow Law and Castleside, County Durham.

Police rescued two families from cars that had become stranded on the A66 overnight, but the road reopened at 10am yesterday.

Motorist Dave Turner was one of 40 motorists stuck for two hours on the A68 as he Snow and high winds tried to get to work in Crook yesterday morning.

He said: “Two vehicles including an HGV, became stuck at the bottom of the dip and with the snow being whipped by the wind into drifts, it was very difficult to keep the area clear.”

In Teesdale, County Durham, farmer Adrian Dowson spent much of the day digging out snowdrifts in the hunt for missing spring lambs.

The 47-year-old, who farms with brother-in-law Andrew Sartin, between Cotherstone and Bowes, said: “We only had two or three inches of snow, but it drifted up to 5ft in behind the walls.

“We must have dug a dozen or more out, but even at dinner time we still had seven missing, but we have got them all out now.”

The B6299 between Tow Law and Stanley Crook was also closed, with residents in Sunniside waking to 7ft snow drifts, while the A692 from Dipton, County Durham, to High Stables was shut after an electricity pole was brought down by the weather.

By 2.30pm all closed roads in County Durham had reopened, but Durham County Council said its gritters were being redeployed on the main roads last night to combat ice and will be on standby today in the North Pennines.

The treacherous driving conditions also caused delays to some bin collections.

Residents in the Consett area who were supposed to have their rubbish collected are being asked to leave their bins out and Durham County Council has said it will collect them as soon as possible.

Staff and customers at The Tan Hill Inn, in the Yorkshire Dales, were trapped by drifting snow up to 4ft deep.

Owner Tracy Daly said: “The windchill factor is the worst, it has been -13C out there at times.”

One of those trapped, Finn Madsen, had travelled from Denmark to enjoy the British springtime with a friend.

The 42-year-old said: “I was looking forward to a week of walking in the sunshine.”

A 60m meteorological mast, which was erected a month ago on farmland between Marske Road and Hob Hill Lane, Saltburn, east Cleveland, was buckled by the wind.

Adrian Beadnell, of the Saltburn Against Turbine Noise and Vibration campaign group, said it should be a warning about turbines, and said: “The wind gave it a real good hammering and it has badly damaged the mast, despite it being tied to the ground with metal cables.”

Temperatures were expected to sink to -3C last night, but no more snow was expected, sparking warnings about ice this morning.

A forecaster from the Met Office said: “Thursday will be a much better day, dry with plenty of sunshine around and temperatures getting to about 10C.”

It is also set to be a warmer weekend, with temperatures of 10C in the day and 3C at night, although cloudy with some showers.