Motorists have been stranded and planes grounded as snow storms causes chaos across the north of England.

The M6 was closed in both directions between junctions 25 and 27, near Wigan, by the Highways Agency after vehicles became stuck in heavy snow and many drivers abandoned their cars.

The agency is working to set up a shelter at Charnock Services, close to junction 28, for drivers and passengers suffering from the freezing temperatures while stuck inside their car or for those who have already walked away from their vehicles.

The stretch of motorway was brought to a standstill as drivers battled poor driving conditions and struggled to make it up inclines, while a number of accidents involving jack-knifed lorries have also blocked lanes.

The M56 was also subjected to closures throughout the night. Up to six inches has fallen across parts of the north since Friday afternoon with the snow expected to continue for the next few hours.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: "The snowstorms became very heavy last night and many drivers became stuck in the snow, especially heavy lorries as they tried to make it up hills. Some drivers abandoned their cars which has made it difficult for us to clear paths through the snow.

"We have had to move the cars to the side while staff continue to clear the areas, but we are urging people not to leave their cars. Please stay in your car and we will come to you.

"We are now working with Lancashire County Council to open a shelter for people who are severely cold to wait. The north-west has certainly borne the brunt of the severe snow and the disruption."

Meanwhile all flights have been suspended at Leeds Bradford International Airport on Saturday morning as a fresh blanket of snow covered most of the Yorkshire region.

A message on the airport's website said: "As a result of adverse weather conditions, flights are currently not operating at Leeds Bradford Airport for a short period. Passengers may experience some delays while we clear the snow from the runway. We recommend you contact your airline or tour operator and check the status of your flight before arriving at the airport."