HEAVY snow across south Essex caused chaos on the roads.

A thick blizzard descended on the area, bringing public transport to a halt and leaving hundreds of schools closed.

Roads were choked with slow-moving traffic as motorists stayed safe and kept speed to a minimum, causing long delays on several busy thoroughfares including the A127 and A13.

Dozens of bus services were called off, although rail services went largely unaffected.

The blizzard came just ten months after south Essex had its largest snowfall in 18 months, while people in Canvey and Southend also reported an unusual thunderstorm.

Lots of children celebrated with fights in a thick carpet of snow, as the school closures meant many of them will not return to class until the new year.

Meanwhile, Essex County Council tried to fight off road chaos as its fleet of 65 winter gritters were sent out to salt the county's 1,870 miles of major roads.

But on Canvey and Southend residents raised concerns that the gritting operation didn’t happen quickly or was widespread enough.

Castle Point MP Bob Spink also criticised the gritting operation.

But Norman Hume, the county council's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “Our gritting crews have done exceptionally well in extreme winter conditions for the second time this year in Essex.

“To keep the county moving as effectively as possible we focussed our efforts on the primary network.”

He added: “Our traffic control centre will continue sending out bulletins to radio stations and media outlets around the county, as well as providing information to the public over the phone, email and face to face.”

This morning, broken down lorries blocked Priory Crescent in Southend causing long delays for motorists and a jack-knifed lorry caused major problems for drivers in Ashingdon Road, Ashingdon.

Firefighters at Rayeigh Weir were called out when a car collided with a gritting lorry shortly after midnight but no serious injuries have been reported.