BASINGSTOKE and north Hampshire experienced substantial overnight falls of snow, but has so far avoided the chaos of two weeks ago.

Many normally busy roads are passable this morning with the few motorists venturing out exercising great care.

Snow began falling at about 5.15pm last night but many motorists and commuters had already heeded warnings and made it home.

Hampshire County Council’s gritting and salting effort also appears to have paid off on main routes, with no major closures reported.

However the snow is too deep in less busy streets for cars to pass and some areas have been without power. Further snowfalls will occur today but are expected to be patchy.

Virtually all schools and colleges in The Gazette area are shut.

South West Trains is operating a revised timetable but commuters are still experiencing delays. Stagecoach South was operating a limited bus service but has now suspended operations.

Power failures have been reported in Winklebury, Rooksdown, Silchester and Hook.

Denis Kerby spokesman for power supplier Southern Electric, said: "We would call it sporadic power failures across the whole of Hampshire. In Basingstoke there are several hundred homes without power in patchy areas.

"In particular, there are several failures around Alton but we have also had reports of wires down in Hook.

"The problem seems to be the weight of the snow on the trees, which is bringing down trees on to the wires, rather than say the weight of snow on the wires."

Mr Kerby said that extra engineers have been called to Hampshire from Oxfordshire, where the snow is not as bad, and are using 4x4s to reach reported problem areas.

Basingstoke firefighters had a quiet night. Watch manager John Amos, said: "I know throughout the county we have had 4x4s out again to help motorists but here we have done nothing like that. It seems like people heeded the warnings."

Workers trying to plan ahead by booking into a local hotel, still found themselves stranded this morning because of the lack of taxis.

More than 100 people checked into the Apollo Hotel by the Aldermaston Roundabout in Basingstoke last night and General Manager Robert Rutherford said many now find themselves unable to leave.

He added: "We were very busy. There were lots of people coming in and making reservations. We were obviously not as busy as last time with the abandoned cars but a lot of people were passing by and we took them in. Now people can’t get to work in the morning because there are few taxis. People are stranded and trying to get to work. They are standing around and hoping for a miracle. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, given the forecast."

Staff have made it into work at Basingstoke hospital. Both clinical and support staff stayed overnight to make their shift this morning while others walked over four miles to be at their posts. Most clinics and operations are continuing today but patients are advised to only travel to the hospital if safe to do so. All appointments can be rearranged very easily where necessary.

The hospital is still under pressure from a high level of very sick patients and other trauma patients following the last snowfall two weeks ago. Hospital managers hope all visitors and patients will take great care on the pathways and roads to avoid needing to attend the emergency department.

In the rest of Hampshire, the A3(M) at Butser Hill was blocked by up to 1,000 vehicles struggling in the snow.

Motorists are still advised only to travel if the journey is a necessity.

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