Snow in Crawley was much worse than Met Office anticipated
THE first March snow in Crawley for seven years forced most of the town's schools to close yesterday as winter returned with a vengeance.
Unofficial reports suggested there was up to 12 centimetres of snow in places but official Met Office figures recorded 7 centimetres at the nearest weather station in Charlwood.
A Met Office spokesman had said on Monday lunchtime that its figures showed less than a centimetre of snow had actually settled in Crawley at that point and that there were only "a few flurries" expected after that.
However, that proved to be a huge understatement as blizzard-like conditions caused chaos on the roads.
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Emma Sharples, from the Met Office, said the situation turned out to be worse than anticipated.
She said: "A yellow warning for snow was put in place on Monday but it quickly became apparent that the conditions were worsening and that was upgraded to amber.
"The combination of wind and the geography of the area meant it was worse than first predicted. The Downs would have certainly played a part."
She said more heavy snow was likely today (Wednesday) but that it was unlikely to cause such disruption as it would be broken up by spells of sunshine.
On Monday just two schools – Three Bridges Infant School and The Oaks Primary, in Tilgate – shut their doors while West Green Primary allowed some children to go home early.
But on Tuesday all but a handful of schools closed for the day.
Bewbush Academy was among the few which managed to open.
Head teacher Liz Harrison said the school has not closed due to the weather since she started working there in 2009.
She said: "We have a motto that we never close. I have a dedicated team of staff and supportive parents who recognise the importance of their child's education.
"As long as it is safe for people to get in we remain open."
While we may have seen the last of the snow by the weekend the weather is not likely to get much better.
Ms Sharples added: "It will be unsettled towards the end of the week and unfortunately we are going to see some outbreaks of rain at the weekend."