UK on snow alert as mercury plunges

Severe weather warnings for almost all of the UK are in place, with heavy snow, widespread icy roads and bitter temperatures forecast.

Some 10ins (25cm) of snow is expected to fall over higher ground, while parts of the Midlands and London will not escape a dusting. Overnight temperatures across the UK plunged well below zero again, after a day when much of the country was badly disrupted by the earliest widespread snow for 17 years.

The Met Office said London and the South East, the South West, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and the north east of England face widespread icy roads. The North East, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands and the South West were also braced for heavy snow and Wales and Northern Ireland can expect icy roads while Scotland is in line for more heavy snow and drifts thanks to a biting wind.

One of the coldest places overnight was Trawscoed in Wales, which saw minus 10.2C.

Dalwhinnie in the Scottish Highlands recorded minus 8.2C, and Glasgow minus 3.5C. In England, Chesham in Buckinghamshire was among the coldest places at minus 7C. And Preston in Lancs fell to minus 5.8C.

Forecasters said the cold snap is set to tighten its grip, blanketing swathes of the country in white by the middle of next week.

Aisling Creevey, of MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It's definitely staying cold and going into next week, we could see a lot more snow. There is a low pressure system across the country and if it moves the way it is looking to at the moment, it's going to be very windy, very snowy and really bitter."

Temperatures will barely rise above freezing on Saturday, with the South West set to be the warmest at around 3C.

The AA said it was called out to 16,000 breakdowns by the end of the day, with 1,220 calls coming in every hour at the busiest time. Wales and the North East were the worst-hit for breakdowns.

The unusual weather has been caused by high pressure over Greenland and low pressure in the Baltics, forcing cold winds from the north east across Europe.


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