A WEEKEND of heavy snowfall led to treacherous conditions on the region’s roads, with hundreds of collisions and breakdowns reported.

Weather forecasters say freezing fog will replace snow as the chief concern for motorists this week, while predicting that Christmas could be more wet than white.

Despite bookmakers slashing the odds on the UK seeing a white Christmas, experts were reluctant to predict as much for the region.

Aisling Creevey, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, expects wintry showers – rather than snow – over the holidays.

She said: “I would not be putting money on it being a white Christmas. There is likely to be showers on Christmas Eve.

“We cannot be certain what the air temperature will be.

“This will have an impact on whether it falls as rain, sleet or snow.”

Motorists and commuters will face more pressing concerns in the final working days before Christmas, said Miss Creevey, with freezing fog predicted on the region’s roads.

Temperatures rarely crept above zero degrees celsius in many parts of the region this weekend, with forecasters expecting that trend to continue.

A reading of minus eight degrees was recorded at St John’s Chapel, near Stanhope, County Durham, on Saturday night, with minus 14 at Topcliffe, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, making it the coldest place in England.

Top temperatures over the early part of the week will only be one or two degrees celsius above freezing, Miss Creevey said.

On the roads, the A19 was closed near Hartlepool yesterday after a lorry jack-knifed, spilling 50 gallons of diesel.

The incident happened at about 10.30am, north of the A689 Wolviston junction, with the road re-opened at 2pm.

A woman suffered spine and neck injuries after she lost control of her Ford Ka on the A167, at Coatham Mundeville, near Darlington.

The road was closed for nearly an hour as fire crews worked to free the woman, whose condition was yesterday described as stable.

There were treacherous conditions throughout the region yesterday morning, particularly on the A689, between Teesside and Sedgefield, where vehicles slowed to a crawl.

One woman, whose car skidded into a lamppost, said: “It was like something from a disaster movie – cars were skidding everywhere.”

An ambulance also became stuck on the same stretch of road and was pushed up the bank by passers-by who stopped to help.

Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team was called out on Saturday, to help evacuate passengers stranded on a bus in Consett.

The team also dealt with emergency calls from stranded motorists in the area.

Deputy team leader Steve Marrs said: “We had 17 team members dealing with incidents throughout the county and assisted a number of motorists.”

In North Yorkshire, more than 70 collisions were reported to police on Saturday, although no one was seriously injured. A further 40 accidents were reported yesterday.

Although most were minor shunts, two people suffered serious injuries in a twocar collision at about 4pm at Burnfield Farm, between Tollerton and Huby, near Easingwold.