Major travel disruption expected as snow brings chaos to Somerset roads
Somerset is braced for widespread travel disruption today caused by extreme winter weather hitting the region.
Snow started falling at around 3am, covering much of the county and creating dangerous conditions on the roads.
The A303 was closed in both directions between Southfields Roundabout at Ilminster and Upottery in East Devon at around 5am following a crash.
Snow has also settled on the M5 motorway through Somerset. Motorists are being warned to drive with care, as there have already been reports of vehicles sliding in the icy conditions.
An accident on the A361 near the Farm Road junction in Doulting caused further delays at around 7am this morning, while the A372 was closed at Aller due to a crash and fallen power cables.
The main road between Shepton Mallet was also closed due to snow.
The A361 was shut in both directions between the A37 Kilver Street junction in Shepton Mallet and the B3090 Marston Road junction in Frome.
The Met Office's severe weather warning of snow was upgraded to an amber alert across Somerset yesterday, and it will remain in place until 9pm tonight.
Up to 15cm of snow was forecast to fall within three to six hours this morning - with up to 25cm over higher ground - and the Met Office is advising people to alter travel plans.
Chief forecaster Eddy Carroll said: "The snow is expected to be heaviest through Friday morning, slowly weakening and clearing east during the second half of the day."
Darron Burness, head of the AA's severe weather team, said: "With the outlook remaining cold, drivers need to be prepared for possible disruption.
"Before heading out, check the Met Office weather alerts and traffic reports and allow a bit more time for your journey, as you don't want to rush on potentially icy roads.
"Do the basic checks on your car and, in case of any problems, carry plenty of warm clothing, blankets, de-icer and scraper, some food, hot flask and a fully-charged mobile."
Highways Agency's National Traffic Operations Centre head Steve Crosthwaite said: "We advise drivers to check road conditions and the Met Office weather forecast before they set off and during severe weather to consider whether their journey is essential.
"They may want to delay their travel until conditions improve and to allow our winter fleet the chance to treat the roads.
"Our traffic officers are working round the clock to monitor the network, deal with any incidents and keep traffic moving."
Drivers are being urged not to travel unless their journey is vital. If you do need to drive today, here are some top tips for driving safely in snow and icy conditions.
Conditions should be less severe over the weekend, but further outbreaks of rain, sleet and snow are expected to push in from the west.
The Met Office said snow that has fallen will be slow to melt and ice will continue to be a risk, especially at night.
Click here to see the latest weather forecast in Somerset.
Click here to visit the Met Office website.
Our Twitter followers have been kindly sending us snow pictures from across Somerset this morning. Scroll through the photos above to see them, and remember to follow @thisissomnews.