THE big freeze is wreaking havoc across Wrexham and shows no sign of letting up.
Plunging temperatures and heavy snow have shut schools, spelled lengthy delays for commuters and refuse bin collections have been missed in rural areas of the county borough.
The icy conditions are set to last for much of the week, according to the Met Office.
Forecaster Charlie Powell said: “On Tuesday there will be a band of snow moving across mid-Wales, which might give us a flurry of snow in Wrexham.
“For the rest of the week it will be largely dry and settled weather, and we may even get some rain on Friday.
“Temperatures will still be below freezing, so motorists in Wrexham should take extra care on icy roads.”
Yesterday five schools across Wrexham were closed or partially closed, including Ysgol y Waun in Chirk, Froncysyllte CP, Bronington Voluntary Aided, Penycae Community Primary and Ymlaen in Gwersyllt.
A spokesman for Froncysyllte CP said: “The hill leading to school is treacherous and the car park is unusable. In the interests of health and safety of staff and pupils we have made the difficult decision to close.
“We have not taken the decision lightly.”
Penycae Community Primary was open to infants, but closed to juniors.
A spokesman said: “Both sites have considerable snow covering and we cannot clear both sites before the start of the day. We will work on clearing the junior site during the day. Apologies for any inconvenience.”
Youth clubs in Brynteg and Tanyfron were also cancelled last night.
Yesterday refuse bins in some rural parts of the borough could not be collected, including those in Glyn Ceiriog and some parts of Rhos and Penycae.
Wrexham Council says it will make every effort to get to missed bins before the next collection date, weather permitting.
A council spokesman said: “Bin collections are running as normal but we have been unable to collect some bins in rural areas. We don’t know what disruption the weather is going to cause yet.
“We will make every effort to collect bins, but at the moment no decision has been made as to what is happening.”
Gritting crews remain on standby at the Abbey Road and Chirk depots.
The spokesman added: “Gritting operations and ploughing will take place when necessary as per the winter maintenance policy.”
The Wrexham campus of Glyndwr University closed at noon on Friday, and exams due to take place yesterday were rescheduled for next Monday.
Students due to hand in coursework yesterday were given an extra day to submit their work.
The university has now re-opened fully.
On Thursday 50 blankets were donated by the Red Cross to a soup kitchen in Wrexham, to be handed out to homeless people facing a night on the streets in freezing conditions.
Red Cross volunteers spent the weekend in 4x4 vehicles helping hospital staff reach Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
David Hallows, service manager for emergency response for the Red Cross in North Wales, said: “I am in admiration of our volunteers for their commitment and skill in driving through the extreme conditions we have been facing in North Wales.
It’s great to know our 4x4 capability can be of such vital use to the staff in getting them through the extreme weather conditions to do their jobs caring for seriously ill patients.”
The weekend saw a surprising fall in the number 999 calls across Wales.
Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) spokesman Richard Timothy said: “Despite the weather conditions, the WAS did not see an increase in calls through Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“In fact across Wales, including Wrexham and Flintshire, areas on Friday and Saturday the WAS saw slightly fewer calls than an average day.”
The WAS has joined forces with mountain rescue teams, North Wales Police and North Wales Fire and Rescue to provide access to patients who are otherwise inaccessible.
On Friday, the WAS had attended more than 480 emergency calls across Wales, while Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) took more than 130 emergency calls.
WAS spokesman Gordon Roberts said: “We would continue to encourage the public to take care in the snow and icy conditions, to wrap up warm and only make journeys if they are essential.
“And once again, please only call us if it is an emergency. Our staff are working hard with our partners to reach patients so it is essential they are not called out unnecessarily.”
A BCUHB spokesman added: “The three A&E departments across the region saw a slight decrease in the number of patients attending over the weekend.
“Good forward planning and co-operation from staff ensured there were no blanket cancellations for day cases, clinics or routine procedures due to the weather. We would like to thank our staff for their incredible commitment to the welfare of their patients and for making every effort to arrive for their shifts.”
It's been good news for outdoor clothing shops in Wrexham which say trade is even busier than the pre-Christmas rush.
Business is booming at stores like Trespass and Mountain Warehouse, where sledges and snow suits have been a big hit.
Trespass store manager Matthew Langwine said: “It’s been unbelievably busy to be honest, unreal in fact.
“January can be a bit quieter once the sales clamour has settled down. However, the heavy snow has given us a massive boost. We have hardly any sledges left but children’s snow suits have also been flying out of the door along with hats, scarves and gloves.”
Mountain Warehouse manager David Morris added: “It’s been remarkable few days and a very welcome boost to trade.”
Those affected by the snow in Wrexham took to Facebook to vent their frustration.
Dee Griffiths from Acrefair wrote: “I am sure cabin fever is about to set in. l hate this snow.”
Rachel Louise Guest, from Wrexham, wrote: “Fed up with snow.”
And Sherine Jones wrote: “All these things being cancelled and closed because of the weather.
“When I was a lass I used to walk to school in snow up to my knees. Come on Britain.”
Have you been affected by the snow? Let us know by calling our reporter Lois Hough on 01978 340336 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org