POLICE were flooded with calls about traffic accidents on South Cheshire roads on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Emergency services were stretched to capacity after heavy snowstorms turned roads into deadly ice rinks.
Two people died and seven were airlifted to hospital after an 18-car pile up which closed the M6 at Junction 16 for several hours on Boxing Day.
The pile-up is believed to have started when two vehicles were involved in a minor collision in the fast lane of the northbound carriageway.
It is understood one man was then struck as he got out of his vehicle. He suffered head and leg injuries and is in a critical condition in North Staffordshire Hospital.
A woman in her 20s and an elderly woman were among those airlifted to hospital. In all, seven people had to be cut free from vehicles by fire crews from Crewe, Sandbach, Newcastle and Longton.
Some casualties were treated at the scene and others were flown by helicopter to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire with head, neck and arm injuries.
The names of those who died have not yet been released.
Crews also reported two smaller accidents to the north and south of junction 16 involving two or three cars each.
Inspector Mike McBride, based at Crewe Police Station, said: 'The driving conditions have been terrible with the snow and then freezing weather.
'Many of the accidents were caused by people losing control on the ice and leaving the road. We have attended numerous incidents where overturned cars had to be towed out of ditches.
'Despite the treacherous conditions most people involved in accidents received only minor injuries, mainly because of the low speed they were travelling.'
Inspector McBride added: 'We would advise anyone travelling on the roads to use extreme care and try to keep journeys to a minimum.'
Scores of people who had planned to visit friends and relatives over the festive period cancelled their arrangements, opting to stay off the roads.
Those who did venture out in the cold entertained themselves at attractions including Nantwich Lake and Queen's Park in Crewe.