THE heaviest snowfall in 17 years is causing chaos across Dorset. A severe weather warning is in place, with snow forecast to continue throughout the day.

As much as six inches is thought to have fallen in some places overnight. Schools and side roads are closed but gritting teams have been operating all night in a bid to keep the road networks clear.

Rubbish collections have been cancelled across Dorset with binmen drafted in to help with gritting. Almost all schools in Dorset and Bournemouth and Poole are closed.

Compacted snow is causing problems on minor roads, with Bourne Valley Road in Branksome, Blandford Road North at Poole and Bozeley Hill at Cann all dangerous.

Dorset Police urged drivers to use extreme caution. Key roads in Bournemouth and Poole, including the Wallisdown Road and Wessex Way, remain slushy but passable. Check this list of passable with care roads.

Treacherous conditions forced police to close the road between Clouds Hill and Gallows Hill, near Bovington earlier, after two tank carriers became stranded at the side of the road due to sheet ice.

Services on South West trains have are now running as normal although there are some delays. Bournemouth Airport is closed until at least 8pm. Southampton has reopened but flights are disrupted.

Andy Pitt, managing director of South West Trains, said: "The freezing weather conditions are causing disruption to road, rail and air transport in many parts of the country, including train services on our network.

"We understand the impact this is having on our customers and would like to thank them for their patience during these difficult conditions."

In Bournemouth, Yellow Buses are terminating at Lansdowne. For Wilts and Dorset buses updates passengers are advised to check their Facebook page.

Bournemouth Uni have suspended all lectures but the library is staying open.

There is no rubbish collection in Bournemouth on Thursday or Friday and Millhams tip is closed today.

The Sandbanks ferry was due to start operating today but a ferry spokesman said: "The refit is now complete but due to the severe weather we are currently experiencing, we are not yet able to return the ferry to Poole and get back onto the chains.

"We will make plans to do this as soon as it is considered safe and practical for the operation to take place and will update you as soon as we have any further news.

In Poole, the first of the two Poole Schools Carol Concerts due to take place at the Lighthouse tonight has been cancelled. No adult learning classes in the town will go ahead today.

Refuse collections have been suspended due to the snow and were "unlikley" to take place at all today, said the council. All seven polling stations for the Old Town by-election in Poole are open.

In the Purbecks the district council have suspended all refuse and recycling collections, but officials are asking residents to leave their refuse out as services will restart as soon as possible.

Children's centres at Bovington, Wool, Wareham and Swanage are closed because of the adverse conditions.

In the New Forest, Sway was the worst hit with 6in. Beaulieu had 5in, Christchurch 3½in, Hordle 5in, Hyde 3in, Lymington 4½in, New Milton 4in, Ringwood 3½in and Verwood 3½in.

The white carpet covered all but the main roads which were salted by Hampshire County Council from 6pm Wednesday.

Wilts & Dorset cancelled buses to Brockenhurst College. Company divisional director Ed Wills said all services were cancelled in the Lymington area until mid-morning.

The X1 between Bournemouth and Lymington was operating later in the day, but not taking in unsalted minor roads, while the X3 Bournemouth to Salisbury route was operating, albeit slowly.

Got to our snow section for our live blog, traffic and travel updates and for those who aren't heading out, send us your snow pictures!

We'll keep updating through the day.