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North Devon shivers in the first snow of winter

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

By Joel Cooper

  • LANDSCAPE: Chief reporter Joel Cooper captured this snowy scene near Ilfracombe.

  • CRISP MORNING: Snowy scene on the A3123 at Berry Down. Picture: Mike Southon. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20130122D-014_C

  • ACCIDENT: Crashed gritter near Stowford Meadow Farm. Picture: Rob Tibbles. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNRT20130118G-006_C

  • FUN IN THE SNOW: These children were out to play near Ilfracombe.

  • CONVERED: Snowy scene at Blackmoor Gate. Picture: Rob Tibbles. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNRT20130118G-014_C

  • SURREAL SCENE: Snow hides more than 40 sofas dumped at this Exmoor beauty spot. Picture: Rob Tibbles. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNRT20130122C-007_C

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CAR crashes, fallen trees, broken phone transmitters, power cuts, school closures and sledging – just another bout of snow in North Devon.

North Devon woke up to a flurry of the white stuff on Friday morning and some is still here now.

Children enjoyed a day of playing in the snow as almost 30 schools closed and a further three remained partially open.

Transport links throughout North Devon were severed as heavy snow drifts and icy roads made some routes impassable.

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Stagecoach services between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple suffered as heavy snow at Mullacott Cross and Two Potts made getting in and out of Ilfracombe almost impossible.

Bus routes in Shebbear, Pyworthy, Weare Gifford, Hartland, Clovelly and Woolsery also ground to a halt.

Train services between Barnstaple and Crediton were halted temporarily on Tuesday due to flooding near Copplestone.

A number of roads were closed across Exmoor as snow drifts up to five feet deep were reported.

At Mullacott Cross near Ilfracombe several tree branches were blown down due to high winds and around 20 motorists abandoned their cars due to the treacherous conditions.

There were on/off road closures along the A361 North Devon Link Road throughout the day and police said they had several reports of minor collisions across North Devon.

A woman was taken to hospital after her car collided with a telegraph pole near Combe Martin on Friday.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to the scene at Berry Down Cross on the A3123 at around 12.20pm.

Officers said the woman was still trapped in the red Peugeot, which is registered to an address in Clovelly, when emergency services arrived.

Fire crews from Combe Martin and Ilfracombe used hydraulic cutting equipment to free the woman.

Police said she was suffering from some possible fractures to her arms. Paramedics placed her on a spinal board and she was taken to North Devon District Hospital by ambulance.

Around 8.50am on Friday a silver Toyota veered across the carriageway on the A377 and collided with a bridge just outside the Portsmouth Arms.

An overturned car blocked the A39 in both directions at Penstowe Road at Kilkhampton near the Clovelly turning.

Even snow gritting lorries weren't safe from the travel conditions as one plunged into a ditch on the on the A3123 near Combe Martin late last Thursday night.

Devon County Council confirmed the gritter had slipped off the road due to the snowy conditions.

A spokesman said: "The driver was unhurt and no other vehicle was involved.

"We quickly dispatched another gritter to the scene and were able to continue with the gritting route."

Angry mobile phone users contacted the Journal over the weekend after being left out in the cold by service providers.

Vodafone, EE (Orange and T-Mobile) and O2 customers reported poor signal in Croyde, Georgeham, Braunton, Woolacombe, Bideford and Torrington.

Vodafone said some of its customers in North Devon had seen a reduced mobile phone service due to the snow.

Spokesman Ally Stevens said: "Our transmitters work on microwave technology and when this equipment gets covered in snow it affects the signal it can send out.

"We believe only a small number of customers are affected and the problems seem to be intermittent."

Aled Rees, Network Service Manager at EE (Orange and T-Mobile), said: "We suffered a loss of service in North Devon on Friday following a mains power failure to masts in the area.

"Due to adverse weather conditions, there was a delay in restoring service, but we're pleased to say that coverage was reinstated at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

O2 spokesman John Maley said: "Due to the poor weather conditions, the power supply to some of our masts in the Exeter area was disrupted on Friday.

"One of our masts in the EX33 postcode area required an engineer to visit for further work to be carried out.

"This was completed on Monday when full service was restored. We'd like to apologise to any of our customers who were affected."

Some residents had the double-whammy of no phone signal and no electricity after a series of faults on power lines.

Western Power Distribution said around 300 customers across North Devon were affected by a loss of power on Friday.

Spokesman Irene Evans said: "There were ten high voltage power line faults in North Devon on Friday which affected small pockets of houses across the area.

"Ice-covered power lines also caused short interruptions.

"There was a major fault with a power line between Barnstaple and Lynton which took up a lot of our engineers' time but would not have affected anyone's power supply.

"Our engineers worked throughout the day to resolve the problems."

North Devon Council said some recycling collections due on Tuesday in Kentisbury, Bratton Fleming and rural Combe Martin had not been possible due to ice on the roads.

The collections will now take place on the next scheduled collection date.

More pictures on page 40 and there is a gallery of snow pictures on www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk.

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