Weather warnings have been put in place across the country today as Storm Deirdre looks set to batter Britain this weekend.
Large parts of Scotland, Ireland and northern England have amber ‘danger to life’ warnings for snow and ice in place, as sub-zero temperatures, strong winds and heavy snow and rain are forecast across the rest of the country.
Freezing rain up from the Midlands and through into southern Scotland pose a severe risk as the threat of power lines snapping and ice freezing on the roads loom across Britain.
Up to 15 inches of snow could fall in the higher parts of Scotland, with 7 inches forecast on flatter ground.
Travel chaos is expected across parts of the country as amber and weather warnings have been issued across vast parts of northern England and Scotland.
Ireland is bearing the brunt of Storm Deirdre, with damaging winds of 81mph set to make their way from the Atlantic.
Thousands of homes and businesses have been left without electricity and significant numbers of faults were reported in Cork in the south, and with some disruption to supplies in Co Waterford in the south east.
Electricity network crews are on stand-by to tackle damage caused by the wet and windy conditions.
Bad weather also affected much of the Northern Ireland. A number of Irish Premiership football fixtures were postponed and a Christmas market in the north west was cancelled.
Only the South East of England is not covered by either a yellow or amber warning, although forecasters say the area will still see some heavy rain.
Yellow warnings of heavy rain and strong winds of up to 70mph are in place in Northern Ireland, south-west England and South Wales until 6pm.
Winds of between 40mph and 50mph were beginning to be be recorded in the region early on Saturday morning.
A lorry and a truck drive through tricky conditions in cold weather on the A9 at Drumochter in Scotland on Saturday
A yellow alert for bad weather in the coming days saw storm Deidre appear overnight as Scots woke up to a winter wonderland scene with snow
Motorists navigate treacherous conditions on the roads as snow and freezing rain falls in Harwood in Teesdale, County Durham
Ground frost near the Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales as amber warnings alerting people to heavy snow and ice have been issued for the north of England and Midlands
A further yellow warning of snow and ice that covers nearly all of England and Scotland will run for 24 hours from 9am on Saturday. Pictured: Ground frost near the Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales this morning
A further yellow warning of snow and ice that covers nearly all of England and Scotland will run for 24 hours from 9am on Saturday.
Met Eireann, the Irish weather service, named an area of westwards-moving low pressure Storm Deirdre on Friday night.
Further amber warnings of hazardous ice – covering the East Midlands, North of England and southern Scotland – and prolonged, heavy snow – covering central Scotland, Highland and Grampian areas, are in place from Saturday morning through to Sunday morning.
Freezing rain is expected to result in the ‘rapid development of widespread ice, with very dangerous travelling conditions likely’ in the warning area.
Freezing rain leads to icicles forming on a gate in Harwood in Teesdale, County Durham today
Traffic heads through icy conditions on the A9 at Drumochter in Scotland on Saturday afternoon as storm Deirdre hits Scotland
A man attempts to cross the icy and snow laden roads in Harwood in Teesdale, County Durham today
People on the beach watch as waves crash onto Durdle Door in Dorset as amber warnings alert people to heavy snow and ice for the north of England and Midlands
The Eden Project told visitors it will be shut until 5pm on Saturday ‘due to flood water on the site’.
Apologising on Twitter, the attraction said it was offering refunds or exchanges to anyone who had booked tickets in advance.
Weather warnings are still in place across the UK, with Storm Deirdre expected to bring snow, ice, wind and rain.
Meanwhile, heavy snow and blizzards could result in travel delays and people stranded on affected roads.
Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said: ‘If you’re not under a snow and ice warning you’re probably under a wind and rain warning.
‘The good thing is that Deirdre is expected to clear out the cold air and become much milder across the weekend.’
Freezing rain, a ‘rare’ weather event for the UK, is forecast from the southern Pennines up to central Scotland.
‘The problem is it freezes instantly on contact with cold surfaces, covering them with hard, clear ice,’ Mr Partridge said.
‘That means power cables can be covered and supplies can be interrupted if they are brought down by the ice.
‘There can also be issues with untreated roads.’
Freezing winds from Russia will collide with a weather front sweeping in from the Atlantic from midday today as overnight temperatures plummeted to -8C (18F), while daytime highs are not expected to get above 2C (36F).
People look out at the rough seas near to Durdle Door in Dorset as amber warnings alerting people to heavy snow and ice have been issued for the north of England and Midlands
Dog walkers enjoy the sunrise in Coventry today as the city wakes up to a cold and frosty morning
Motorists navigate difficult driving conditions as snow and freezing rain falls in Harwood in Teesdale, County Durham
A snowplough clearing the roads on the A9 at Drumochter today as heavy snow is forecast to fall later in the day
Sheep in the sunshine as dawn breaks over frozen fields near Walterstone in Herefordshire today
Dover Castle in Kent is pictured at sunrise today, as the first heavy snowfall of the season looks set to bring travel disruption
Motorists can expect to spend the early hours scraping ice off their windscreens, and the Met Office warned of the rare phenomenon of freezing rain in its amber warnings which run for nearly 24 hours from 9am today.
What is freezing rain?
Freezing rain – which is a rare phenomenon in Britain – can make roads and pavements very icy and slippery.
The form of liquid precipitation happens when rain freezes as it hits the ground, instantly forming clear ice.
It happens when the air temperature is below 0C (32F), supercooling the droplets as they fall.
This sees the water droplets exist several degrees below 0C and remain in liquid form without a nucleus – which is required for them to freeze.
The conditions are common across parts of the US and are known as ice storms – which can bring down trees.
Heavy rain is also expected in most parts of the country today and may turn to sleet or snow at times in the north and east, mostly over hills. By the weekend, snow could fall as far south as the Midlands this weekend.
Forecasters predict up to 5cm (2in) of snow over the Cheviots, Lake District, Pennines, Welsh Mountains and North York Moors on Saturday. In the Scottish Highlands, up to 20cm (8in) could fall this weekend, with 40cm (1ft 4in) on the highest peaks.
If temperatures go lower than is forecast there could also be snow further south.
However the cold will not stick around for long, with temperatures expected to get back up to 8C (46F) or 9C (48F) at the beginning of next week.
Met Office chief meteorologist Steve Willington said: ‘This weekend’s weather brings a range of winter hazards, with the possibility of heavy snow and blizzards in parts of Scotland and freezing rain for northern parts of the UK.
Temperates fell as low as -6.7C in Farnborough this morning (left) – although today will be sunny for most places (right)
‘As such, there is the potential for disruption to travel on the roads and possible delays or cancellations to public transport services, so we encourage people to keep an eye on the latest weather forecast warnings and to take care when travelling.
The Met Office has issued weather warnings for most parts of Britain today- with only South East England excluded
‘At the moment, the heaviest snow is expected over higher ground in Scotland with the chance of drifting snow due to strong winds. Snow is also expected to settle at lower levels in Scotland and parts of northern England, with the risk of freezing rain and ice on Saturday night.’
Roads are likely to see the worst of the disruption, while flights in Scotland could also be affected. Wind speeds could hit 70mph in some areas. The grim forecast forced ferry operator CalMac to cancel today’s sailing between Oban and Castlebay on Barra.
It said it will be Sunday before services resume on the route. Cancellations were also made on the crossings between Fionnphort and Iona, Oban to Coll and Tiree, Tarbert to Lochranza and Berneray to Leverburgh.
Stein Connelly of Transport Scotland said: ‘This weather has potential to cause travel disruption, particularly over higher routes. As always, we encourage motorists to plan their routes ahead of time, leave plenty of time for your journey, follow Police Scotland travel advice and drive to the conditions.
‘Our operating companies have their winter services up and running, and will closely monitor the trunk road network to provide appropriate treatments where necessary. If you are planning to travel by rail, air or ferry, please check with your operator before setting off to see if your service has been affected.’
The Scottish Government said it is ready to activate its resilience control room today if required. A spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the weather warnings currently in place and are receiving regular updates from the Met Office.’
In its longer-range forecast, the Met Office said: ‘As we head through the remainder of the week and into the Christmas week it will probably stay unsettled, with further spells of wind and rain, these interspersed by some brighter and showery weather. Temperatures on the whole look likely to be a little milder than average.
The Met Office has issued snow, ice and wind yellow warnings (left) and amber warnings for snow and ice this weekend (right)
‘However, in the period after Christmas Day there is an increased likelihood that milder spells will become short-lived and a colder and more showery northerly or northwesterly regime could become established across the UK.’
Three-day UK weather forecast tells of snow, strong winds and rain
Today: It will be cloudy and wet for many. Snow is expected for parts of Scotland and northern England, especially over hills Eastern parts will be drier but cloudy for much of the day. Very windy in the west with gales in the west.
Sunday: There will be sunny spells and showers, mostly in the west with some of these perhaps heavy and thundery. There will be rain at times for northern Scotland, which is likely to be wintry over the hills. Moderate south-westerly winds.
Monday: It will start bright for most but will become cloudy later with rain in the north and west. Breezy.
Despite bookmakers shortening their odds on a white Christmas, the Met Office says it is still too early to tell as they predict seven days in advance.
The last widespread white Christmas was in 2010 when 83 per cent of monitoring stations recorded snow on the ground – the highest ever recorded.
A white Christmas is defined as one snowflake seen falling in the 24 hours of December 25 somewhere in the UK. The Met Office uses sites across the UK, including Buckingham Palace, Aberdeen FC and Coronation Street in Manchester, to check for snowfall.
2015 was also a white Christmas, with 10 per cent of stations recording snow falling, though none reported snow lying on the ground.
Snow is more likely in January and March than in December, with snow or sleet falling an average 3.9 days in December, compared to 5.3 days in January, 5.6 days in February and 4.2 days in March.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes is offering odds of 2/7 for snowfall anywhere in the UK on Christmas day.
Alex Apati, of Ladbrokes, said: ‘It’s looking increasingly likely we’ll see snow on Christmas Day in the UK, with the odds dropping as fast as the temperatures.’
William Hill said Aberdeen is the most likely city to have a white Christmas in 2018.
Spokesman Rupert Adams said: ‘The last 24 hours have been very busy as the first real chill of the winter has hit. The odds now suggest a real chance of a white Christmas, with the Scottish cities very much the favourites.’
It is unlikely the snowfall this weekend will be as bad as the Beast from the East and Storm Emma in March, which brought the UK to a standstill as cars were abandoned in what the Met Office called a ‘cocktail of weather events’.
What do the weekend Met Office weather warnings say?
AMBER WARNING – ICE (Sat 10am – Sun 6am)
Northern England and southern Scotland
Freezing rain is expected to result in the rapid development of widespread ice, with very dangerous travelling conditions likely.
What to expect:
- Injuries from slips and falls and danger to life on icy surfaces are likely
- Black ice may form quickly affecting bus, train and air travel
- Dangerous driving conditions are likely leading to road traffic collisions, road closures and longer journey times
- Pavements and cycle paths likely to become instantly impassable because of the sudden formation of black ice
- Power and other services, such as telephone and mobile phone coverage, likely to be interrupted or cut
Heavy freezing rain is expected to develop during Saturday. This will result in the rapid formation of widespread ice on roads, pavements, trees and other structures. Freezing rain is rare in the United Kingdom but when it does occur the impacts can be very severe. This is due to the fact that it can form very quickly, it can be difficult to see and is incredibly slippery. Some sleet and snow is possible over the very highest ground and the freezing rain may also be followed by a spell of sleet and snow as the precipitation clears from the west. The freezing rain and sleet and snow will be accompanied by strong southeasterly winds which will pose an additional hazard to travel, in particular over high ground.
AMBER WARNING – SNOW (Sat 9am – Sun 8am)
Heavy snow and blizzards bringing disruption to travel and infrastructure.
What to expect:
- Travel delays on roads are likely, stranding some vehicles and passengers
- Some delays and cancellations to rail travel are likely
- There is a good chance that some rural communities could become cut off
- Power cuts are likely and other services, such as mobile phone coverage, may be affected
A period of prolonged and heavy snow is expected to develop through Saturday morning, before clearing from the west through Sunday morning. 5-10 cm of snow is likely widely across the area, whilst some areas could see 20 cm, perhaps as much as 40cm over higher ground. Strong south-esaterly winds will lead to temporary blizzard conditions as well as drifting of lying snow.
YELLOW WARNING – RAIN & WIND (Sat 6am – Sat 6pm)
Northern Ireland and South West England
Heavy rain and strong winds across parts of Northern Ireland , south-west England and south Wales.
What to expect:
- Spray and flooding on roads probably making journey times longer
- Flooding of a few homes and business is possible
- Delays for high-sided vehicles on exposed routes and bridges likely
- Some short term loss of power and other services is possible
- Some festive events may be affected by poor conditions.
Heavy rain and gales will affect parts of Northern Ireland and southwestern areas of the UK on Saturday. The wettest areas could see 30 to 50 mm of rain in 6 to 12 hours, while winds could gust to between 50 and 60 mph, especially in exposed coastal areas. The combination of these factors on a busy shopping weekend, may add to potential disruption.
YELLOW WARNING – SNOW & ICE (Sat 9am – Sun 9am)
Scotland and most of England (down to Bedfordshire)
Periods of freezing rain, with snow in Scotland later, leading to some dangerous travelling conditions.
What to expect:
- Possible travel delays on roads stranding some vehicles and passengers
- Possible delays or cancellations to rail and air travel
- Some rural communities could become cut off
- Power cuts may occur and other services, such as mobile phone coverage, may be affected
- A chance of injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces
- Bus and train services may be delayed or cancelled, with some road closures and longer journey times possible
- Untreated pavements and cycle paths might be impassable because of black ice
Freezing rain is expected to develop during Saturday, lasting into the early hours of Sunday. This may result in the formation of ice on roads, pavements, trees and other structures. Freezing rain is rare in the United Kingdom, but when it does occur impacts can be severe. This is due to the fact that it can form very quickly, it can be difficult to see, and is incredibly slippery. Freezing rain is likely to change to snow before it dies out across parts of Scotland, bringing some accumulations of 2-5 cm. The freezing rain and snow will be accompanied by strong southeasterly winds which will pose an additional hazard to travel, in particualr over high ground.
YELLOW WIND WARNING (Sat 12pm – Sun 6am)
Scottish Northern Isles
Severe gales expected over the Northern Isles and parts of Caithness.
What to expect:
- Some delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport expected
- Some short term loss of power and other services
- Coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities affected by spray and/or large waves
A spell of very windy weather is expected over the Northern Isles and parts of Caithness on Saturday afternoon and overnight into Sunday. Southeasterly winds will be around 50mph with gusts widely 60mph perhaps 70mph at times.