Parts of Britain are braced for up to ten inches of snow this week as an Arctic chill sweeps the country and temperatures plunge to as low as -10C tonight.
The Met Office has issued a series of amber and yellow snow warnings over the next few days, with accumulations already building up this morning in the Highlands.
Cold air is due to sink south tomorrow, clashing with a band of rain moving north, which could see heavy snow accumulate at higher levels in parts of the North.
Cities including Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield are all covered by tomorrow’s snow warning amid concerns over road and rail travel chaos. The warnings are:
- Snow and ice warning for Scotland from 3pm yesterday until midday today;
- Snow and ice warning for Scotland from 4pm today until 10am tomorrow;
- Snow warning for Northern Ireland from 10am tomorrow until 6am on Friday;
- Snow warning for northern England from 6am tomorrow until 6am Friday;
- Amber snow warning for Peak District from 12pm tomorrow until 6pm tomorrow;
- Amber snow warning for North Wales from 8am tomorrow until 3pm tomorrow;
- Rain warning for southern England from 2am tomorrow until 6am on Friday.
Daytime temperatures will plummet to just above freezing in areas as far south as the Peak District tomorrow, with Birmingham set to reach just 3C (37F).
A couple enjoy a stroll through the snow at Contin in the Scottish Highlands this morning
Motorists drive on a snowy and icy road near Kennethmont in Aberdeenshire this morning
A workman clears the snow from streets in the Highland village of Contin this morning
Sheep stand on a snowy field at Wester Urray near Inverness in the Highlands this morning
TODAY — A yellow snow and ice warning for northern Scotland began at 3pm yesterday and runs until midday today for up to 3in (8cm) of snow; while another snow and ice warning for the Far North of Scotland from 4pm today until 10am tomorrow is for up to 2in (5cm) of snow
TOMORROW (1/2) — Yellow and amber snow warnings are in place across Britain, while southern England and South Wales also has a rain alert from 2am tomorrow until 6am Friday
TOMORROW (2/2) — A close-up map shows the amber snow warning for the Peak District and South Pennines from 12pm tomorrow until 6pm tomorrow; and another for North Wales and Shropshire from 8am tomorrow until 3pm tomorrow – both for up to 10in (25cm) of snow
FRIDAY — Weather warnings for snow and rain will remain in some parts of Britain into Friday
TODAY — The South is clinging onto mild temperatures but it is now much colder in the North
It will also bring a return of harsh frosts, with -5C (23F) forecast on high ground in some areas of northern England tonight and tomorrow night, and -10C (14F) in parts of rural Scotland – but the South is set to remain above freezing. It comes as:
- The UK Health Security Agency has imposed a cold health alert for the North;
- Big temperature gap will see Scotland fall to -10C but milder air in the South;
- National Rail warned snow could ‘bring some disruption to trains’ tomorrow;
- The AA told drivers who ‘need to make essential trips’ to take ‘extreme caution’;
- The Met Office extended a snow and ice warning across more of Scotland; and
- National Highways urged motorists to ‘allow lots of extra time when travelling’.
Only the far south of England and Wales could hang on to the mild air – but only for a few days as wintry conditions will grip the whole country by next week.
Meanwhile the UK Health Security Agency activated a cold health alert for the Midlands and North of England at 6am this morning, which runs until 8pm on Friday.
Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Chris Almond said: ‘There’s an increased signal for wintry hazards as we move through the week as cold air from the north moves over the UK.
‘It’s from Thursday that the snow risk becomes potentially impactful, as mild air attempts to move back in from the south, bumping into the cold air and increasing the chance of snow where the two systems meet.
‘While there are still lots of details to work out, the initial snow risk looks highest in northern England and Wales from Thursday. This snow is likely gradually change to sleet and rain later on from the south.’
It comes as the Met Office extended a weather warning of snow and ice across more of Scotland, as forecasters said travellers could face transport disruption.
The forecaster had issued a yellow snow and ice warning from 3pm yesterday until midday today covering the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and parts of Argyll and Bute and central Scotland.
But yesterday evening, the Met Office extended this warning further east and south to include Glasgow and Aberdeen.
It warned that accumulations of up to 3cm of snow are likely quite widely across the warning area, with up to 8cm over the North West Highlands, while icy surfaces will be an additional hazard.
The Met Office has also issued a yellow warning of snow covering Northern Ireland, north Wales and northern England from 6am tomorrow to 6am on Friday.
It expects that up to 2cm of snow is possible at lower levels, up to 5cm on ground above 650ft (200m), and as much as 25cm above 1,300ft (400m).
Snow on the A835 at Contin in the Scottish Highlands today, 20 miles north-west of Inverness
Snow on a road at Stromness in Orkney is pictured this morning as accumulations build
Lambs and sheep in the snow near Kennethmont in Aberdeenshire this morning
Snow covering trees, buildings and fields at Stromness in Orkney this morning
Snow on fields and on top of houses at Stromness in the Orkneys this morning
There is a risk of power cuts, travel delays and a ‘slight chance that some rural communities could become cut off’, the Met Office warned.
It added that the snow will ease later in the day tomorrow, and may turn back to rain or drizzle, especially in the south and east of the warning area.
Met Office meteorologist Liam Eslick said most disruption this week was likely to occur tomorrow.
He said: ‘With the snow there is a chance that you could see some rail and air travel cancellations.
‘If the snow does reach lower levels then we could also see some local impacts with travel disruption.’
He added that an easterly wind meant the highest accumulations of snow were likely on the ‘eastern upslopes running across the Pennines and the northern Welsh mountains’.
The forecaster added that it looked like a ‘cold spell’ was on its way as an area of high pressure moves in over the UK towards next week.
Mr Eslick said: ‘It looks like we could see some cooler conditions starting to come back towards next week and it does look like it’s going to stick around towards the back end of February.’
National Highways told motorists to keep ‘Trip’ in mind ahead of journeys – Top-up: oil, water, screenwash; Rest: rest every two hours; Inspect: Inspect tyres and lights and Prepare: check your route and the weather forecast.
Amy Shaw, national network manager at National Highways, said: ‘Freezing conditions bring hazards such as snow and ice, so take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow lots of extra time when travelling to prepare for the unexpected.
People brave the windy weather as they cross the Millennium Bridge in London yesterday
People walk through the grounds of Basildon Park in Berkshire on a blustery day yesterday
Windy conditions as commuters walk across the Millennium Bridge in London yesterday
‘It is therefore always important to plan ahead for your journey, check the weather forecasts, and if weather conditions become challenging, adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care.’
The National Highways North West account on X said it had ‘535 gritters based at 128 depots across the road network’, adding: ‘We’re ready – make sure you are.’
Meanwhile the AA issued travel advice for drivers, saying that ‘for those who still need to make essential trips, roads are likely to be hazardous, so extreme caution is advised’.
Chris Wood, AA Patrol of the Year, added: ‘If you need to travel, reduce your speed to account for the conditions and leave plenty of space behind other vehicles, and try to use main roads where possible as these are more likely to have been gritted.
‘Allow extra time, as it’s likely your journey will take longer than usual, and ensure you have plenty of fuel or electrical charge if driving an electric vehicle.
Temperatures are still near double-figures in the South – but just above freezing in the North
A clash of air masses will occur across the UK today – of mild Atlantic air and cold Arctic air
Daytime temperatures are set to plummet to just above freezing in some areas tomorrow
‘Before setting off, check the condition of your tyres – including the spare. It’s important to fully de-ice the car which includes clearing snow from the windows, lights and roof so you can see and be seen.’
And National Rail Enquiries issued its own warning for train passengers relating to tomorrow’s Met Office snow alert, saying: ‘The warning currently covers most of northern England and north Wales, but this is subject to change.
‘A period of snowfall could bring some disruption to trains in the affected areas.’
The turnaround follows a spell of unseasonably warmer weather – with temperatures of nearly double the early February average of 7C (45F) recorded last week.
Last month, Kinlochewe, a village in the Highlands, set a new UK record high for January of 19.6C (67.3F) – warmer at the time than Rome or the Cote D’Azur.