Cold snap bites back with real vengeance
DOZENS of trees came down and properties were damaged when North Staffordshire became the worst-hit spot in the county for severe gales.
Last week, residents in Stoke-on-Trent were enjoying the area's warmest March in seven years.
But gales and snow showers saw them replace their sun shades with umbrellas as wintry weather caused havoc yesterday.
A number of roads were closed to deal with debris on the carriageways.
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And some in the Staffordshire Moorlands became unpassable due to snow.
Tourist attractions including Trentham Gardens, the Monkey Forest and Aerial Extreme, were forced to close because of high winds.
Markets in Leek and Newcastle were also cancelled.
The Met Office recorded gusts of between 35 and 45mph, but the weather was set to improve today.
In Burslem, the strong winds blew part of the roof off a house in High Lane.
Police were called just before 8am and arrived to find tiles strewn across the road.
They taped off the street and re-directed traffic, before a team from Stoke-on-Trent City Council arrived to begin the clean-up.
Neighbour Jean Savage, aged 74, a retired education welfare officer, said: "There's been a lot of police activity. There's been a real build-up of traffic and I must admit I've been quite surprised by how bad the weather has been."
Philip Madeley, aged 63, a painter and decorator who also lives on High Lane, said the winds blew his garden fence down.
He added: "I've been trying to mend the panels all morning, but it's been horrific."
Road closures included the A53 at Upper Hulme, which police shut just after 5am due to the weather conditions.
The A52 Ashbourne Road was closed just outside Leek for around 50 minutes from 6am after a tree landed on a Ford Transit van. The driver was not injured.
Trees fell in Blurton Road, Blurton; Redhills Road, Milton; and Dilhorne Road, Forsbrook.
Police and the fire service attended Capper Street in Tunstall at 2.45pm to further reports of falling roof tiles.
Part of Uttoxeter Road in Stone was partially closed because of debris on the road.
Staffordshire County Council had a team of 70 highways workers clearing debris.
Councillor Mike Maryon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The weather at the moment is undoubtedly some of the worst we have experienced in the north of the county for some time and I would urge motorists to be extra careful and to drive to the conditions."
A Met Office spokesman said: "The North Staffordshire area escaped the worst of the snow, as we had reports of around 20cm a little further North.
"The wind was the worst thing and we had reports of gusts between 35 and 45mph."
Gusts were due to drop off today, although residents were warned to expect a cold start.
The weekend weather is expected to be unsettled, but temperatures will be average for the time of year.
A Cheshire Police spokesman said disruption in South Cheshire was relatively minor.
She said: "We had a couple of reports of trees falling down in Crewe and Congleton, but nothing major."