A Leeds grandmother has spoken of her travel misery after she was among the thousands of motorists caught up in winter weather chaos on the M62.
Diane Crotty, 59, was forced to sleep in her van at a service station on Thursday and is set to spend another night in a hotel last night, after freezing temperatures, snow and high winds closed part of the M62 between junctions 21 and 24.
Police said that as many as 3,500 vehicles were stuck on the eastbound carriageway of the M62 on Thursday as officers worked with firefighters to cut away a section of the central reservation to allow the majority to be driven back down the westbound carriageway towards Manchester.
Mrs Crotty, from East Ardsley, was on her way back from Manchester Airport on Thursday when traffic came to a standstill at junction 20 of the motorway at about 8am.
The grandmother-of-four told the YEP: “It was absolutely gridlocked for 15 or 16 miles and it said one and a half hour delays when I got there.
“I think it should have said one and a half days - because I’m still here and it’s looking like there’s no let up.”
A string of vehicles were left stranded overnight on Thursday on the stretch of motorway, which remained closed yesterday, and motorists were diverted by police who warned people not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary.
Mum-of-two Mrs Crotty eventually turned off the M62 near Middleton, Manchester, and parked up at Birch Services at about 1.30pm on Thursday.
But because there were no rooms left at the service station’s hotel, she was forced to stay in her van overnight as temperatures plunged below freezing.
“I sat in the van just hoping they would reopen it then at about 9.30pm I got wrapped up in a blanket and tried to sleep. It was freezing, I think it was -4C.
“I was lucky that I had enough diesel to keep the engine running.
“There are a lot of people out there that are a lot worse off than me - I was one of the lucky ones.”
As the stretch of motorway remained closed yesterday, and faced with the prospect of being stranded for a second day, she booked a room to stay at the service station hotel last night.
“There has been a couple of hours here and there where I have got down about it,” she said.
“All I want to do is go home.”
Mrs Crotty works for her brother, and drives her van to and from Manchester Airport picking parcels up every week.
She said the journey usually takes no longer than two and a half hours. The chaos on the M62 came after Leeds was lashed by snowfall as the Beast from the East wreaked havoc across the city this week.
It was compounded by the arrival of Storm Emma, which led to sub-zero temperatures and caused disruption to roads, bus and train services across the region yesterday.
Northern said some rail services from Leeds and Wakefield suffered lengthy delays yesterday. The region’s biggest rail operator also admitted it had been forced to withdraw a fleet of electric trains after the cold weather stopped the automatic doors working.
Elsewhere, one busy supermarket in Leeds also suffered in the freezing temperatures, after a burst pipe caused some of its ceiling tiles to collapse on Thursday.
But thanks to quick-acting staff, the Asda Morley Superstore, in Howley Park Road, Morley, was open as usual yesterday with a partial corden in place in at the entrance.
An Asda spokesperson said: “We’d like to thank our colleagues for their swift action to help resolve the matter.”
Leeds Bradford Airport also reopened yesterday but some flights remained cancelled or delayed, after work to clear the runway following the heavy snowfall during the week.
Meanwhile, travellers bound for the airport in Leeds had to spend a night in a hotel after a five-hour ordeal on a transfer coach. The Ryanair flight from Las Palmas Airport in Gran Canaria was diverted to Liverpool on Thursday due to the weather, and passengers then boarded a transfer coach to take them back to Leeds.
But the M62 became impassable in bad snow and the vehicle was stranded for more than five hours, before the driver eventually took them to a hotel in Warrington for the night.