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ALL WHITE NOW; Families enjoy heavy snowfall - but travellers suffer.

SLEDGES, wellies and woolly hats were the order of the day as the first snow this winter turned the region into a winter wonderland for youngsters.

About 10cm of snow fell on the Midlands during an eight-hour period on Saturday and lasted long enough yesterday for families to get out and about as temperatures struggled to creep above freezing.

But, predictably, the cold weather also brought its own problems as West Midlands Fire Service was called to rescue a man after he jumped into a lake to save his dog in Pype Hayes Park.

A man 'performing a dare' was also rescued after he got stuck on a lake island when ice started to break. The prankster, in his early 20s, had to be rescued by fire crews from Sheldon who stretched a ladder across Kingfisher Lake, in Packington Avenue, Shard End.

The fire service reported two other water rescues across the region and also dealt with 30 call-outs involving floods caused by burst pipes.

The snow also threw the region's air and rail services into chaos with some passengers forced to bed down at Birmingham International Airport on Saturday night after the runway was closed.

Six flights were cancelled, 11 arrivals into Birmingham were diverted to other UK airports and a similar number of delays were recorded while workers shifted 20 tonnes of snow from the runways. Normal service had resumed by yesterday morning.

Rail transport in Birmingham and the West Midlands was heavily disrupted, too, as the sub-zero temperatures caused signal points to freeze, meaning long delays and restricted services.

Passengers on one Virgin Trains service, the 18.03 from Euston to Wolverhampton, were delayed for three hours after it was forced to stop at Birmingham New Street while engineersrepaired signal points ahead.

VirginTrains spokesman Jim Rowe said: "It was not too bad until about 10pm, when there were a number of infrastructure failings between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. "There were also a lot of trains late leaving London affecting trains heading out to Birmingham.

"Some were diverted, some were delayed and some were terminated short of their destination though no passengers were left stranded overnight."

London Midland, another of the region's main train operators, reported a similar picture of delays, most affecting services between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Network Rail said train operators in Birmingham and the West Midlands resumed normal service yesterday.

Transport on the roads fared better with National Express West Midlands reporting only minor disruption on Saturday with some buses running restricted services.

However, icy conditions saw a car lose control on a bend and collide with a pedestrian barrier and electrical box, in South Yardley yesterday.

A second car swerved out of the way but clipped a tree.

No one was hurt in the incident which happened at about 4pm in Coventry Road.

While little snow is forecast for the next few days, conditions for commuters, motorists and pedestrians are likely to remain difficult with the snow expected to turn to ice.

Met Office forecaster Simon Keates said: "The rest of the week will be cold but little in the way of snow.

"There may be the odd flurry which will only exacerbate the ice on the roads and pavements which could make for tricky commutes to work.

"There's little chance of the snow thawing until later in the week."

CAPTION(S):

Ice day: Libby-Louise McDermott-Thomas, four, from Sheldon with her giant snowman at Elmdon Park. The white stuff: Families sledging at Elmdon Park on Sunday. Top right, slippery roads in Sparkbrook and, bottom right, Police in Kingstanding got caught out by the weather and ended up having to push their car. Top, a picturesque scene on the Lickey Hills.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 6, 2012
Words:615
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