The heaviest snow in 18 years has brought traffic chaos across south London with a plane skidding at Heathrow, the M25 closed, no trains or buses running and schools shut for two days.

The capital was covered in up to seven inches of snow, with forecasters warning of “a further five or six inches” to come.

Snow and ice are being blamed for a Cyprus Airways flight to slip off the taxiway, lodging its wheel in the grass.

No-one was injured but the airport was forced to immediately close both its runways, said a spokesman for BAA, Heathrow’s owner.

The southern runway has since reopened. However, BA grounded all flights until 5pm and the Heathrow website stated “significant” delays were expected to continue.

City Airport was closed for the day. Flights were in operation at Gatwick, but "may be subject to delay and cancellation", the airport said.

All London buses and the entire south London tram network were withdrawn from service due to “adverse weather and dangerous roads”. A partial bus timetable resumed on Monday afternoon, Transport for London (TfL) said.

On the Tube, 10 of the 11 lines were wholly or partially suspended by 7.30am. Most lines continued to suffer major disruption throughout Monday.

South West Trains (SWT), Southern and the Heathrow Express all suspended their London rail services on Monday morning. SWT and Southern has since resumed skeleton services.

Drifting snow caused the M25 to be closed clockwise between junctions 8 (Reigate) and 9 (Leatherhead) in Surrey due to snow. Tailbacks stretched as far as 32 miles.

Most London schools were closed on Monday, with thousands of parents being told not to take their children in. Many will remain shut on Tuesday.

Many hospitals, including Epsom Hospital and St Georges in Tooting, suspended planned surgery and outpatient appointments after hospital staff failed to reach their work places.

London saw its heaviest snowfalls since 1991 as temperatures plummeted to as low as -2.4C.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning, saying further outbreaks of snow are expected into Tuesday.

Helen Chivers, spokesman for the Met Office, said: "This further snowfall, on top of what has already fallen, will cause further disruption.

“Some areas which have already had a lot of snow could see a further five or six inches.

"As well as the snow it will be extremely icy by Tuesday morning.”

The wintry weather is set to continue for the rest of the week, she added.

The build up of snow in suburban areas around local bus garages led TfL to cancel all bus services on Monday morning.

TfL managing director David Brown said: “We're taking the situation hour by hour and trying to get as much of the service going as possible.

“We haven't seen anything like this for two decades and the volume of snow has made it very difficult.”

A total of 500 gritters were out on TfL’s network of main roads in London.

Surrey County Council said it had 42 snow ploughs out and about, focusing on A-roads.

The AA said motorists were “flirting with hypothermia” if they did not keep warm clothes in their cars when going out.

"People often treat their car as an overcoat. But when you break down you are suddenly vulnerable to the weather,” said AA spokesman Andy Taylor.

"If you break down on a motorway, the safety advice is to get out of the car and wait behind the barrier. Unless you have extra clothes you really are flirting with hypothermia."

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