BRITS are urged to stay warm as freezing temperatures and heavy snow battered the country today – with biting conditions set to last well into next week.
Public Health England (PHE) also pleaded for people to look out for those most at-risk, after the Met Office issued a severe snow warning for parts of England earlier on Friday.
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There is a chance that the North East of England, North West of England and Yorkshire and the Humber regions will experience cold weather from Friday December 4 to 6pm on Tuesday December 8.
PHE’s Principal Environmental Public Health Scientist, Dr Owen Landeg, warned that cold weather “can be bad for your health.”
He added: “Heating your home to at least 18 Celsius is particularly important if you have reduced mobility, are 65 and over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease.
“Wearing a few layers of thin clothing is better at trapping heat than one thick layer and will help to keep you warm.”
Dr Landeg also noted that “looking out for others at this time is also really important.”
“Remember to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses, remembering COVID-19 social distancing, to make sure they are safe, warm and well,” he continued.
Brits in Essex, Kent, and Cornwall woke up to blankets of snow outside their windows this morning – but the flurries and icy conditions have caused crashes and delays for motorists.
And the Met Office has issued FIVE weather warnings for today and tomorrow with icy patches and torrential rain set to continue.
The snow warning brought “tricky driving conditions” to parts of the East and West Midlands and Yorkshire.
Motorists faced difficult driving conditions in parts of the country today as snow caused travel disruption, while there were also reports of “thundersnow” in some areas.
Met Office Meteorologist Bonnie Diamond said: “December has got off to a much colder start than last month, with widespread low temperatures bringing the risk of frost, ice and wintry weather across the country.
“With temperatures generally limited to between 4 to 7 Celsius by day and falling widely below freezing overnight, a cold weather alert has been issued covering much of northern England and will remain in place until at least next Tuesday.”
SNOW IN THE SOUTH
Essex Roads Policing Unit have also issued a warning over “terrible” roads – after receiving multiple calls this morning.
The force tweeted: “The driving conditions in some parts of Essex are terrible! We are getting multiple calls to RTC’s… please #SlowDown #LightsOn #MakeSpace.”
Leicestershire Police have told drivers to avoid the northern parts of the county if possible – because of the snowy conditions.
They tweeted this afternoon: “Due to snowy conditions in the north of the county, we have received a number of reports from motorists requesting assistance. Please drive carefully / avoid area if possible.”
Two major routes between Manchester and Sheffield have closed as vehicles have been stranded because of the snow, according to reports.
Rail passengers have also been affected, with ScotRail warning of “significant disruption to services on multiple routes” due to heavy snow.
Roads were treacherous on Dartmoor and Exmoor this morning, as vehicles skidded and swerved.
A police spokesman said: “Crazy people are still tearing along like there’s no tomorrow…which there might not be for them if they crash and kill themselves.
“The trouble is if they cause an accident, it could seriously injure or kill innocent people too. Drivers should slow down and take heed of the conditions.”
Cornwall emergency medic Chris Lee said snow had hit the A30, one of the main routes into the region.
He warned on Twitter: “Snowfall on A30 between Launceston and Bodmin.
“Lots of standing water and heavy sleet and snow.
“Please drive with caution. Keep speeds down and distances safe.”
Meanwhile, Devon and Cornwall Police said there were reports of road crashes across the two counties “due to icy conditions.”
There were also multiple crashes on the A30 around Goss Moor in Cornwall, with police saying people have been driving at “totally inappropriate speeds.”
On the A391 at Penwithick in Cornwall, a crash has been reported as cars “slide off the road,” according to traffic service Inrix.
And Queensferry Crossing, linking Edinburgh and Fife in Scotland, was shut during rush hour today, due to falling ice from the cables.
Some people have contacted the police to raise concerns after they heard strange noises amid stormy weather overnight.
Police Scotland Control Rooms tweeted at around 5am on Friday: “We have received a number of calls regarding people concerned about explosions heard.
“Please do not be alarmed, we are currently experiencing thunder and lightning.”
Former Great British Bake Off contestant Tom Hetherington said: “Everyone in Edinburgh being woken up by the thundersnow.
“Most intense thunder I’ve ~ever~ heard. Literally sounds like bombs going off.”
Thundersnow – or winter thunderstorm – is an uncommon form of thunderstorm which causes snow to fall instead of rain.
One woman said: “I’ve honestly never heard thunder that sounded like a sonic boom/plane crash.”
Another said: “Terrifying boom of thunder 20 mins ago. Bedroom lit up with a flash of lightning, 1 second before the largest bang I’ve ever heard, the whole flat shook. I was convinced it was an explosion.”
Meanwhile, more travel disruption was caused by torrential rain this morning.
Commuters fumed at the news that no trains can run between Lewes and Eastbourne due to heavy flooding on the line at Polegate.
Southern Rail said the water has reached the electric third rail, meaning the power has had to be switched off.
After the heavy rain yesterday and the thawing snow this morning, many Essex roads have flooded around the Chelmsford area.
Several motorists became stranded in floodwater including a taxi driver – adding to the havoc caused by the weather today.
Drivers on the A12 have moved into one lane to avoid the floods caused by torrential rain.
Last night, temperatures plummeted across the country and are set to be as low as -5C (23F) at the weekend.
A dusting of snow covered Cumbria, North Yorkshire and parts of Scotland, with warnings for drivers.
And while the South was soaked by heavy rain yesterday, snow has fallen overnight – and there may even be some snow in the capital today.
Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office Dan Suri said: “It’ll certainly feel more wintry, with colder weather bringing a risk of frost, ice and wintry showers.”
Meanwhile, the Met Office issued FIVE yellow warnings of rain and ice for today and tomorrow.
For the ice warning in the East and South East of England, the Met Office said: “Cloud is expected to clear this evening and overnight allowing temperatures to fall close to freezing which may lead to icy patches on untreated surfaces.
“A few showers are also expected across Kent and the far east of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk which may lead to more widespread ice in these areas.”
And in Eastern Scotland, up to 60mm of rain is expected to fall today and tomorrow: “Further persistent rain, heavy at times, developing on Friday afternoon, continuing on Friday night.
“Further rainfall accumulations of 20 to 40 mm are expected quite widely and over some hills and mountains 60mm may fall.”
Highways England has 93 new high-speed gritting lorries on standby to clear roads more quickly.
Scotland will see the worst of this weekend’s arctic weather and the Met Office has issued a warning for snow and ice north of the border.
Over the next 24 hours, areas in the north will see “significant snow” and could experience the lowest overnight temperatures of the year so far, the Met Office warned.
Northwest Scotland experienced the coldest weather overnight with temperatures dropping as far as minus 10C.
The coldest temperature recorded so far this year was in Balmoral, Scotland, in February, where the mercury plummeted to minus 10.2C.
Leading bookmaker Coral now makes its odds-on at 4-5 that this month ends as the coldest December on record in the UK.
Coral’s John Hill said: “With temperatures plummeting fast and snow already falling in some parts of the UK, this month is now odds-on to be the coldest December on record.
“It looks as though this year is our best chance for a long time to have a White Christmas.
“We expect to see the white stuff fall somewhere in the UK on Christmas Day, with Aberdeen and Glasgow the most likely cities.”
The cold snap is set to last until Friday with brighter weather and sunshine expected at the weekend.
Going into next week, the Met Office said temperatures would be lower than the average annual temperature, which is normally 7-9C in early December.
— to www.thesun.co.uk