A blanket of snow is expected to sweep across England and Wales this week as Britons shiver through a deep chill.
Sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds could combine with the white stuff – especially in the South East of England – to spell travel chaos, power cuts and cut off villages as bone-chilling air from the Arctic hits the UK.
It is feared power lines and mobile networks could be put at risk by the deteriorating weather, which comes after winds gusting at up to 82mph in Devon battered areas yesterday, causing difficult take-off conditions for planes.
A severe yellow weather warning for snow has been issued in the South East between 9pm tomorrow night and noon on Wednesday, with Met Office experts predicting delays on roads, while rail and air travel may also be hit.
Snow and ice warnings have also been issued by forecasters for the rest of England and Wales, running from midday tomorrow until 11am on Wednesday, and western Scotland, from 1am until 12pm tomorrow.
A plane struggles to take off in high winds at Newcastle Airport yesterday as the country faced gusts of 82mph
Another plane struggles to land in high winds at Newcastle Airport yesterday amid the gusty conditions
Rain moving eastwards across the country is expected to turn to snow as temperatures fall gradually from tonight down to as low as -4C (25F) on Wednesday, with parts of Scotland potentially dropping to -10C (14F).
Up to 1.2in (3cm) of snow is expected for much of the South East, including London, while places on higher ground could see up to 3.9in (10cm). Winds of up to 60mph are forecast inland – and 70mph on the coast.
Met Office snow and ice warnings for Britain tomorrow
The coldest temperature this morning was -6C (21F) at Loch Glascarnoch in the Scottish Highlands, after a weekend that brought unseasonably mild temperatures on Saturday, including 13.9C (57F) to Cardiff.
The top wind speed recorded yesterday was 82mph – at Berry Head in Devon, followed by Orlock Head in County Down, Northern Ireland, at 71mph.
Sarah Kent, of the Met Office, said: ‘We’ve got cold weather throughout the UK for most of the week. On Tuesday, there will be sub-zero temperatures, with a cold start to the day for southern and central England.
‘Many places further north will see temperatures a little below freezing. By the afternoon, there will be a low-pressure system moving along the English Channel and, wrapped around that, an area of rain.
‘When the rain runs into the cold air, it will fall across most of England as sleet and snow. Snow accumulations could vary but we’re expecting 0.4-1.2in (1-3cm) more widely.’
She added: ‘The gritting vans should be out, but people should be winter-ready to make sure they have all they need in their cars. Snow will gradually clear from the eastern part of England during Wednesday afternoon.
‘There will be largely clear skies, but it will be bitterly cold first thing on Thursday morning for parts of central and southern England.’
The coldest night in the UK so far this winter was January 18 when Braemar in Aberdeenshire plunged to -10.8C (12.6F), but that could be beaten this week as air blown 2,500 miles from near the North Pole arrives.
Strong winds and high waves strike Trearddur Bay this morning in Anglesey, North Wales
Waves crash into Trearddur Bay in Anglesey, North Wales, today after winds gusting at up to 82mph arrived yesterday
Waves crash over Trearddur Bay in Anglesey this morning as parts of Britain face further snowfall this week
Strong winds and high waves crash into Trearddur Bay this morning as Anglesey is hit by severe weather
Winds of up to 60mph are forecast inland this week – and 70mph on the coast. Trearddur Bay in Anglesey is pictured today
A temperature colder than the -14.1C (6.6F) recorded on February 14, 2016 at Braemar would be Britain’s coldest for seven years, since the -15.6C (3.9F) observed on February 11, 2012 at Holbeach, Lincolnshire.
The Met Office has forecast cold conditions ‘certainly’ for another three weeks at least, with temperatures expected to be much colder than the -3C (27F) currently being experienced in Helsinki, Finland.
A level three cold weather alert – one tier below a level four national emergency – has been issued in the North of England, warning hospitals they will be busier than usual and urging health staff to contact the vulnerable.
The RAC projected 8,500 daily breakdowns – an increase of up to 20 per cent – and dispatched all 1,500 patrol teams. A spokesman said: ‘The worst cold weather travel chaos since last winter’s Beast from the East is expected.’
Rail firms will run empty ‘ghost trains’ at night to clear snow and ice, with Network Rail having 34 de-icing trains prepared. Meanwhile some 2,000 gritters are digging into a record-equalling three million tonne salt mountain.
The Met Office has warned Britain will see cold weather across the country this week, with sub-zero temperatures tomorrow
London Heathrow Airport has 185 snowploughs on standby while Gatwick has 98 snowploughs and snow-blowers.
Yesterday in the Scottish Highlands, a climber had to be rescued after falling in ‘appalling’ conditions near Ben Macdui – Britain’s second highest mountain – in the heart of the wild Cairngorms plateau.
Met Office snow warning
MET OFFICE YELLOW WEATHER WARNING – SNOW
ENGLAND AND WALES
Snow, possibly heavy at times, developing overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. What to expect:
- There is a small chance of travel delays on roads with some stranded vehicles and passengers, along with delayed or cancelled rail and air travel
- There is a slight chance that some rural communities could become cut off
- There is a small chance that power cuts will occur and other services, such as mobile phone coverage, may be affected
A band of rain pushing east across parts of England is likely to turn to snow during Tuesday evening, with snow continuing into Wednesday. Accumulations of 1-3cm are likely quite widely, with accumulations of 5cm in places. There is a small chance that some areas could see up to 10cm, more especially over the higher ground.
Four teams battled strong winds and poor visibility for more than six hours after the alarm was raised at 2.25pm. Braemar Mountain Rescue said the injured walker was ‘evacuated off the hill to the north side’.
Elsewhere, on Ben Nevis, a hypothermic climber was airlifted to hospital in nearby Fort William, Inverness-shire, at around 10pm on Saturday. The condition of the man, in his 50s, was not known last night.
Other winter sports proved less hazardous, and the snow was perfect for husky racing at Glenmore near Aviemore, Inverness-shire. But the conditions caused chaos on the A9, with gritters working to clear drifts.
Snow gates were closed on the A93 at Spittal of Glenshee, Perthshire; on the same road at Braemar, Aberdeenshire; and on the A939 between Cock Bridge and Tomintoul, Banffshire.
In the Central Belt, there were accidents on the M8, M80 and M77. The weather is also feared to have played a role in the death of a woman, 64, from Midlothian, who died when her Kia car left the road at Glenshee.
The A95 Craigellachie to Keith road was shut and the A1 was lashed by high winds at East Linton, East Lothian. Snow fell on the Western Isles, with a rare ‘snowbow’ over Mull, while ferries were cancelled by CalMac.
Meanwhile British Gas is forecasting 74,000 engineer call-outs nationwide this week to help people with problems and carry out safety checks as the bitterly cold weather hits.