DORSET woke up to heavy snow yesterday, which caused severe disruption for schools, roads and services.

Residents across the county encountered the first widespread snowfall of the winter, with up to five inches on the ground.

And it was soon followed by reports of traffic incidents and lengthy tailbacks, right in the middle of the morning rush-hour.

The snow also shut most schools and colleges across the area, forced bus and train companies to amend their timetables and led to bin collections being cancelled.

Although the snow was predicted and council gritters were out in force, it still caused chaos on the roads.

Two jack-knifed lorries closed a section of the A35 in Dorchester, blocked the A354 Blandford by-pass and there was a five car collision on the A31 at the Ringwood and Fordingbridge turn-off.

Wareham Road in Corfe Mullen was closed because of a bus across the road and a 40ft tree fell at Boundary Road in Ensbury Park, Bournemouth, blocking the footpath.

Herbert Avenue, Ringwood Road and Alder Road in Poole were all declared impassable by Dorset Police, as were many roads in Swanage.

A road accident at Harman’s Cross brought down power cables, leaving residents without power for four hours in the morning and Ulwell Road in Swanage and Wimborne Hill in Wimborne Minster were both closed due to heavy snow.

In Purbeck, a number of vehicles became stuck due to the wintry conditions. At 6.45am a blue transit van got stuck at the Swanage end of the road. Then, around 7.20am, several vehicles including a large van became stuck on a hill near Corfe Castle.

On many of the main roads that were open, motorists sat in lengthy tailbacks. Wimborne Road in Winton, Ashley Road in Parkstone and Talbot Avenue in Bournemouth were particularly slow.

Side roads around the area were treacherous.

Bus services were limited to main roads in Poole and services to Wimborne, Corfe Mullen and Merley were cancelled. The Sandbanks Ferry operated a reduced 30-minute service and South West Trains ran a revised timetable. Bournemouth, Poole and Purbeck councils suspended rubbish and recycling collections and the household recycling centres at Nuffield and Millhams were closed in the morning. Wareham Library was also closed.

Bournemouth council sent teams of workers out to hand-grit priority pedestrian areas, including GP surgeries and shopping precincts and Poole staff re-filled the 50-plus grit bins.

Herbert Avenue, where residents reported problems, was done in the morning and the gritters continued to work throughout the day, the council said.

In Poole’s Alder Road, where dozens of cars skidded out of control throughout the morning, one man was praised for helping stricken drivers.

Childminder Natalie O’Brien, whose home backs onto Alder Road, told the Daily Echo: “This guy was doing a fantastic job.

“He was running up and down the hill warning drivers and stopping traffic from getting into trouble. There were lots of cars spinning, some 360 degrees. If it wasn’t for this man there would have been even more problems.”