A SNOW storm left motorists stranded in parts of St Helens last night as the severe weather brought chaos to the road network.

More than a foot of snow fell in parts of the borough, with the heaviest showers between 9pm and 11pm.

Snow ploughs battled to keep 'primary routes' in the town moving but could not prevent disruption on many local roads.

Elsewhere the he M6 was blocked in both directions between junctions 25 and 27

The Star received reports of drivers becoming stranded at various locations in the borough, while bus services had to be called in to depots early because of dangerous conditions.

According to Star readers, vehicles were abandoned in Carr Mill, Fingerpost and Haydock.

There were reports of lorries being left at Piele Road, Haydock.

One 4x4 motorist in Moss Bank said he had helped five drivers who had got into difficulties.

Pictures showed a jack-knifed lorry at Elton Head Road, near the St Helens Linkway.

Meanwhile, the M6 was blocked in both directions between junctions 25 and 27 when a sudden burst of more than a foot of snow brought drivers to a standstill at around 8.30pm, said the Highways Agency.

Many became stuck along the stretch of motorway between Wigan and Standish after struggling to make it up inclines in the treacherous conditions, while a number of accidents including jack-knifed lorries also blocked lanes.

The M6, as well as the M56 and M58 which were also blocked, are now all moving again but remain heavily congested with long tailbacks, said Lancashire Police.

Chief Inspector Mike Adamson said: "We realised at about 11pm last night that this was going to be a major incident.

"Some of the drivers and passengers have been stuck for hours - it has been a very difficult night for them. We have set up a command centre at Charnock Services, where officers have collected hot drinks and taken them to those who are stuck."

Some of the stranded drivers passed the time with snowball fights and building snowmen, while others abandoned their cars completely.

One man had to be taken to hospital by Lancashire Police after becoming ill in his car while it was stuck.

Lancashire Police also worked with Lancashire Mountain Rescue teams, the Highways Agency and neighbouring force Greater Manchester Police to clear roads and provide welfare assistance to those who were stranded.

The Highway Agency worked throughout the night to clear the routes with snow ploughs.

A spokesman for the agency urged those who had abandoned their cars to return to them as soon as possible.

He said: "The snowfall was very sudden and very heavy - over a foot in some places - causing cars to become stranded. But we have managed to get through the traffic and clear most routes to get people moving again.

"We are urging those who have abandoned their cars to collect, all we can do is move them to the side for now but it makes it difficult to clear routes. With the rain falling and ice melting onto very cold road surfaces, we are now warning drivers of the danger of ice."

Temperatures have risen swiftly this morning, meaning a rapid thaw is setting in.