Brace for blizzards: Met Office extends weather warning until Sunday

Brace for blizzards: Met Office extends weather warning until Sunday as rain, snow and ice spark travel chaos, snow ‘tornado’ hits Scotland and temperatures drop below freezing

  • Temperatures to fall to -9C today, with 50mph winds and up to 40cm of snow 
  • Three yellow warnings for snow also cover much of the rest of the nation 

Blizzards are due to cause ‘treacherous conditions’ in the UK on Thursday night and Friday morning – with 50mph winds and up to 40cm of snow forecast in some areas.

The Met Office has issued three amber warnings for northern England, the Midlands, North Wales and Northern Ireland, where ‘significant disruption’ to transport and power supplies is expected. 

Temperatures are expected to expected to reach below freezing in most parts of the country tonight, with the mercury plummeting to a chilling -9 degrees in some parts of Scotland. 

Three yellow warnings for snow also cover much of the rest of the nation, with the exception of southern England and western Scotland. 

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said that a pocket of western Scotland covering Glasgow and the county of Argyll may be the only region untouched by heavy rain and snow over the next 24 hours. 

He said the worst of the weather is expected in north-west Wales and northern England, where ‘gusts of easily 50mph’ are on a collision course with ’30 to 40cm of snow’. Mr Burkill said: ‘The combination of heavy snow and gales is why we’re likely to see blizzards and drifting snow which causes extra hazards on the roads. 

‘In places covered by amber warnings, there will be very difficult, treacherous conditions. ‘Ideally avoid travelling in those periods – but if you have to head out then be aware that journeys could take significantly longer.’ 

Mr Burkill added that while Devon and Cornwall should be free from the snow, the region is predicted to be hit by the strongest winds of around 60mph on Thursday evening. People in the south of England are likely to experience the worst of the rain.

Thursday night temperatures will be similar to Wednesday, which was the coldest night of the year, before even colder conditions move in on Friday night. 

The North-East of England is also expected to face freezing temperatures of -2 degrees, with outbreaks of sleet and snow throughout with windy at times, especially across the Pennines, where there is a risk of blizzard-like conditions. 

The West Midlands is forecasted to battered by heavy rain, with more wintry conditions overnight, with snow mainly across higher ground as the temperature falls to -1 degrees.

Yorkshire is also set to face a very cold and cloudy night, after waking up to heavy snow this morning, with a risk of blizzard-like conditions and minimum temperature falling to -2 °C.

Mr Burkill said that areas of the Highlands could see minus 17C, after this year’s record low of minus 16C was recorded at Altnaharra in the region. 

People cycle through Massey Woods during heavy snow, in Dublin, Ireland

A snowy landscape at Burton Latimer in Northamptonshire today as wintry weather continues

A child rides a sledge at Ashbourne Park today as parts of the UK are under weather warnings for snow and ice

Met Office forecasters said this was also the lowest March temperature seen in the UK since 2010, when minus 18.6C was recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire. 

The coldest March night on record was minus 22.8C at Logie Coldstone in Aberdeenshire on March 14 1958. 

Meanwhile, the warmest overnight temperature for the mainland was 9.8C at Culdrose in Cornwall – while 10.8C was recorded at St Mary’s Airport on the Isles of Scilly. 

Mr Burkill said the ‘large contrast across the UK’ was due to the ‘cold Arctic air’ moving from the north while a milder front covered the south. National Highways issued a ‘severe weather alert’ for snow covering the North East, North West and Midlands regions until 8am on Friday, where motorists have been warned not to drive unless their journey is essential. 

The RAC said that on Thursday morning there were 50% more breakdowns than usual in areas affected by snow, with some drivers stuck in the snow in parts of South Yorkshire and Wales. 

Spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘Rural routes through central and northern England covered by the Met Office’s amber weather warning are starting to get difficult to negotiate, and these are areas drivers should avoid if they can. 

‘Given the weather, we recommend thinking carefully before setting out today as, with more snow forecast, things are likely to get worse on the roads before they get better.’ East Midlands Airport, in Castle Donington, Leicestershire, has temporarily closed its runway due to the weather. 

In a statement, the airport said: ‘Following a period of heavy snowfall, we have temporarily closed our runway. 

Three yellow warnings for snow also cover much of the rest of the nation, with the exception of southern England and western Scotland

‘Health and safety will always be our top priority and operations will resume at the earliest opportunity. 

‘Passengers are advised to contact their airline for the most up-to-date flight information.’ 

The Met Office amber snow alert for England lasts for 21 hours from 3pm on Thursday and covers major cities including Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds. Over Wales, an amber snow and ice warning is in place from noon until 9am on Friday, stretching from the north coast to Radnorshire. 

Another amber snow and ice warning in Northern Ireland covers Belfast and areas south of the city from 3pm on Thursday until 4am on Friday.

Parts of Britain are enduring severe snowstorms and further travel disruption today with up to 16in (40cm) set to fall as temperatures plummet to -13C.

Hundreds of schools across the UK closed today – including nearly 300 across Wales and every one on the Isle of Man – and the runway at Inverness Airport was shut.  Several main roads across Derbyshire were closed, including the A57 and A6024.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for ‘strong winds bringing blizzard conditions’ and heavy snow over an area from Stoke-on-Trent to Durham.

And Buckingham Palace said Queen Consort Camilla had pulled out of engagements at Newmarket in Suffolk today after the bad weather disrupted her travel plans. 

The mercury had plunged to -16C at Altnaharra in the Highlands by 6am this morning – making it the UK’s coldest night of the year for the second day in a row.

It was also the coldest March night since 2010. The Met Office expects the same location in Scotland to drop to -13C (9F) in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Today, there will be some rain across southern England, turning to snow as it spreads north to central parts of the UK. The Met Office predicts the snow will clear in the East of England by tomorrow, although showers will persist in northern Scotland.

This Met Office map shows where snow, rain, hail and sleet are expected across the country earlier this morning

A car lies abandoned this morning after crashing in heavy snow close to Winnatts Pass in the Peak District near Chapel en le Frith in Derbyshire 

Heavy snow fell in Aberdeen, leaving roads and pavements covered in five to six inches of snow 

The amber weather warning lasts for 21 hours from 3pm today – and ‘significant disruption’ to transport, power lines and phone network coverage is likely.

Several milder yellow weather alerts for snow have also been issued, covering much of the nation until tomorrow.

The Met Office warns that some roads and railways are likely to be affected by the conditions – with longer journey times predicted.

Police in Cheshire attended a collision on the A537 Cat & Fiddle Road in Manley earlier this afternoon as a result of the weather conditions, after being hit by heavy snow with temperatures of -2C recorded in the area.

The National Rail Enquiries website said: ‘The poor weather may cause disruption to train services, so please check your complete journey is possible before you travel.’ 

And rail operators Thameslink and Great Northern said ‘snow and ice may affect services’ on the networks. 

Commuters on a snowy road in Sunderland this morning as conditions remain treacherous

Dogs and their owners arrive in the snow for Crufts 2023 at NEC Arena in Birmingham today

People sledging near Preston Tower in Northumberland today with snow covering the area

A wet and misty morning in London today as Tower Bridge is seen in the distance

A snow covered Preston Tower in Northumberland this morning after snow fell across the area

Heavy snow covers houses at Burton Latimer in Northamptonshire this morning

A snowy landscape at Linlithgow in West Lothian today as Scotland faces severe conditions

Heavy snow on rooftops in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, this morning

There will also be some icy patches on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths which could cause injuries from slips and falls.

Leeds City Council has warned bins may bot be collected as per normal as some street may not be safe to access for refuse staff, adding that additional efforts will be made to collect them on Saturday.

Some vehicles and passengers could become stranded with possible delays or cancellations to rail and air travel. Power cuts could also be expected in some areas.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has placed all regions of England under a level 3 cold weather alert.

It said: ‘Even a little snow and ice can make roads treacherous, so we’re advising everyone who does set out to proceed extremely cautiously.’

Agostinho Sousa, a consultant at UKHSA, said the cold weather could have a ‘serious impact’ on people’s health, particularly the elderly, while Age UK has urged people to check in with their older neighbours and relatives.

National Highways has warned drivers in the West Midlands and the East of England not to travel unless their journey is essential.

RAC said there was ‘an increase in breakdowns’ in a zone stretching west from London along the M4 corridor and into Wales.

Rod Dennis, from the automotive services firm, said: ‘We’re continuing to monitor the weather situation closely, but with further snow expected over the next few days there is still the potential for some significant disruption to journeys.

‘We’re also conscious that there will be a large number of new drivers who may never have experienced snow on the roads before.

‘So we urge them to take particular care and drive well within the speed limit to give themselves plenty of time to react should the vehicle in front run into difficulty.’

Mr Dennis advised motorists venturing out to prepare for their journeys by packing warm clothes and blankets, sturdy footwear, food and drink, and a portable phone charger.

A Met Office yellow warning for snow and ice covers northern Scotland until 10am today, along with central and southern areas of England and Wales from midnight until 7am.

Another yellow warning for snow and ice covered north-east England and south-east Scotland until 7am today.

A fourth yellow warning for snow covers all of the UK north of Birmingham, spanning from 7am today until 2pm tomorrow.

The Environment Agency has issued five alerts for locations on the south coast of England, and for residents between Putney Bridge and Teddington Weir along the River Thames in London, where flooding is ‘possible’.

Natural Resources Wales has given two similar warnings for the North Wales coast, along with the Lleyn Peninsula and Cardigan Bay coastline.

The Met Office has said an Arctic air mass from the north meeting mild air from the south is causing the turbulent weather over central areas.

The lowest UK temperature in March before last night was in 2010, when -18.6C (-1.5F) was recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire.

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