Snow is falling over a large area of southern Britain this morning, with commuters warned to brace for a rush-hour from hell.
A band of rain is turning to snow as it moves north from France. One or two inches is expected to settle quite widely, forecasters said.
Before the snow hit, temperatures were plummeting with the coldest night of the year potentially on the cards.
As the snow pushes further north, 30cm-40cm could fall across the Central Belt of Scotland and Highlands on Thursday and Friday.
Northern England, including its major cities, could see 15cm-20cm of snow cover even in lower-lying areas as the cold snap gets even chillier.
A yellow weather warning is in force for much of the UK until Friday.
The Met Office earlier said ‘very cold Arctic air’ is moving southwards, with regions south of the M4 said to be ‘most at risk of disruption’ this week. The majority of snow on Wednesday is expected to hit southern areas.
Youngsters keep their hats dry with plastic bags during a snow shower in Stamford Hill, north London
Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon said snow should fall where cold Arctic air moving south towards the UK meets warmer air moving up from the South West.
He added: ‘As we move into the weekend as that low pressure has moved out from the East, there is a further band of rain likely to move from the South West, which could knock against cooler air and create sleet showers.
‘Next week there will be a gradual warming back to something a little bit more typical for the time of year.’
The forecaster has also warned that up to 15in of snow could hit the UK this week as blizzards are forecast in northern areas tomorrow and on Friday, with fears of red and amber weather warnings in some areas.
Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Helen Caughey added: ‘The impactful weather will continue through the latter part of the week as mild air pushing in from the southwest meets colder air in situ with further snow and ice for many areas.
‘Through Thursday and Friday the snow risk spreads, to central and northern areas of the UK, with the potential of some significant accumulations even to low levels, which have the potential to cause impacts.
TODAY: A greater area of the South West is covered by the Met Office’s snow and ice warning, with much of the East and North of England and Scotland also expected to be hit by wintry showers again
THURSDAY: A yellow weather warning for snow and ice will remain in place for the South East, South West and London, while snow is also expected across Wales and the entire North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
FRIDAY: Warnings for snow are no longer in place for the South, but wintry showers are expected to hit parts of northern Wales, England, Northern Ireland and the southern half of Scotland
Sheep stand with lambs in a snow dusted field in Ardenteggle, County Laois, Ireland
People walk their dogs through the snow beside a row of beach huts at Blyth in Northumberland
Heavy snowfall in Aberdeen, where a number of schools have been forced to close due to the wintry conditions
A dog walker on the snow covered sand dunes at Seaton Sluice in Northumberland this morning
People walk their dogs through the snow beside the beach huts at Blyth in Northumberland yesterday morning
Weather warnings for snow and ice are currently in place across much of Britain due to an Arctic blast
‘Parts of Northern Ireland, Wales and northern England are expected to see the worst of the conditions develop from early on Thursday, with parts of Scotland and northern England then seeing snow arrive through Thursday afternoon.
‘Snow across the northern half of the UK will persist through much of Friday, while further south, any snow will turn back to rain through Thursday afternoon and evening. Strong winds are also expected to develop through Thursday and Friday which may create drifting snow and blizzard conditions in places.’
Further snow is expected to impact northern areas of Scotland into Friday, with temperatures remaining ‘well below average’.
Rain and sleet is forecast to arrive over the weekend, before further snow hits the south west.
Meanwhile, two of five coal plants that had been kept on standby started supplying electricity to British homes for the first time this winter.
The West Burton generation sites that are run by French energy giant EDF started producing electricity on Tuesday afternoon.
It came as strikes in France reduced the amount of electricity the country could supply to Britain through undersea cables. Wind electricity production is also unusually low.
The Government approached several coal-fired power stations last year that were set to close down, asking them to be on standby this winter amid an energy supply crunch.
The plants have been warmed up a few times so far this winter on cold, overcast and still days. But Tuesday is the first time they have started to produce electricity.
It is the job of the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) to ensure there is always more electricity generation available than it expects households to use.
It tries to keep a comfortable margin between the two – and that is why the coal plants were activated on Tuesday. It is highly unlikely to lead to blackouts in any parts of the UK.
The ESO had also issued a so-called electricity margin notice, but cancelled it at around 3.30pm as it realised that it had enough power on the grid to meet demand.
This is designed to let generators know that the margins are tighter than normal and to ask them if they can supply extra electricity.
‘An electricity margin notice (EMN) has been issued to the market,’ ESO said earlier in the day
‘This is a routine tool that we use most winters, and means we are asking generators to make available any additional generation capacity they may have. The EMN does not mean electricity supply is at risk.’
Despite the West Burton coal plants coming online, coal was only producing around 3.2% of Britain’s electricity on Tuesday afternoon.
The grid had earlier said that it might trigger the demand flexibility service which pays households to reduce their energy usage for Wednesday evening. However, this was cancelled later on Tuesday.
It comes after temperatures dipped to -7.6C at Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands on last night, with the small hamlet covered in 12cm of snow – more than anywhere else in the UK.
Goathland train station in North Yorkshire as weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across the UK
TYNEMOUTH: Snow fell on Front Street in Tynemouth. Much of Britain is waking up to snow after a heavy Arctic Blast swept across the nation overnight
TYNESIDE: Arctic conditions arrived in the early hours of Tuesday in Cullercoats North Tyneside. Forecaster say icy weather is expected in central and southern areas of England
BEDFORDSHIRE: Snowfall in Toddington, Bedfordshire on Tuesday. Up to 15in of snow could hit the UK this week as blizzards and heavy snow are forecast on Thursday and Friday
A number of schools have also been closed in Aberdeenshire today due to heavy snow making roads undriveable for many.
Met Office spokesman told Sky News that parts of the UK could be issued with red and amber weather warnings due to increasingly strong winds.
Meteorologist Alex Burkill added that it is not ‘out of the question’ for the wintry conditions to escalate into a named storm.
He added: ‘Where we have lying snow and clear skies tonight we’re going to see temperatures dropping as low as -15C [overnight into Wednesday].’
The Met Office said most of the UK would see sunny spells overhead this afternoon, but snow and hail showers are expected to continue in northern areas.
The heaviest and most frequent of the wintry conditions are in northern Scotland, where a ‘bitterly cold northerly wind’ is blowing.
The conditions follow a combination of weather phenomena which have occurred for the first time since the ‘Beast from the East’ brought days of freezing weather in late February and March 2018.
A police car drives down the A93 in Scotland following heavy snowfall overnight, with more expected over the coming days
STOKENCHURCH: A man walks his dog through a snow covered field following snowfall in Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire
NORTH YORKSHIRE: Wintery snowy scenes in the North Yorkshire village of Goathland as snow showers and freezing temperatures hit the region over night
NORTHUMBERLAND: A man walks his dog through a snow covered field near Alnwick Castle in Northumberland as weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across all four nations of the UK and more are expected to be issued as Arctic air sweeps across the country
LOCKTON: Snowy conditions in Locton this morning off the A169 in the North York Moors National Park. Weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across all four nations of the UK and more are expected to be issued as Arctic air sweeps across the country
STOKENCHURCH: Snowfall in Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire. Further heavy snow, accompanied by strong winds, is forecast from the early hours of Thursday until Friday evening
NORTHUMBERLAND: A man walks his dog through a snow covered field at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. Milder and unsettled weather is due to spread across England and Wales next week
Snow in the west end of Aberdeen, Scotland, as weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across much of the UK this week
The Met Office said roads could become blocked, leaving vehicles stranded, while some communities could be ‘cut off for several days’.
The forecaster’s outlook adds: ‘Mostly dry and cold in the north Thursday, but widespread snow, rain and strong winds spreading northeast.
‘Clearing Friday, but further rain and snow gradually moving north on Saturday.’
Milder and unsettled weather is due to spread across England and Wales next week.
The forecaster has warned of travel delays, with ‘some vehicles and passengers stranded’, along with power cuts and an increased risk of injury due to slippery footpaths and pavements.
NORTHUMBERLAND: Cars travel along a snow covered A1 motorway at Alnwick in Northumberland this morning. Weather warnings are in place across the country for ice and snow until Friday
NORTH YORKSHIRE: Refuse collectors clears the bin in snowy conditions in Briggswath, North Yorkshire
NORTHUMBERLAND: Snow covered fields surround Alnwick Castle in Northumberland
NORTH YORKSHIRE: A car with a partially cleared windscreen drives through snowy conditions in Briggswath
NORTHUMBERLAND: Cars travel along a snow covered A1 motorway at Alnwick in Northumberland
Rail journeys are also likely to be affected and airports may find it impossible to keep runways clear of snow.
The Met Office warned travel disruption is likely and journey times by car, train and bus may take longer than usual.
Dog walkers on a snow covered beach at Seaton Sluice, Northumberland, with their pets
An overturned delivery van off the road on the A988 near Alford, Aberdeenshire, amid dangerous driving conditions
A train travels through the snow covered trees as it passed through Egton Station in North Yorkshire
Holy Trinity Church and its surrounding fields in Bilboa, County Carlow in the Republic of Ireland
Flowers dusted with snow in Bilboa, County Carlow, in the Republic of Ireland, as a cold front passes over the UK
Early morning walkers make their way along the snow covered coastline of Tynemouth in North Tyneside
TYNE & WEAR: Storm clouds rolled in over St Mary’s Lighthouse, just north of Whitley Bay, as the sun was setting yesterday. Forecasters say temperatures are likely to stay far below average for early spring for much of the week
NORTHUMBERLAND: A man walks his dog through snow near Alnwick Castle this morning as weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across all four nations of the UK and more are expected to be issued as Arctic air sweeps across the country
Even colder overnight conditions are set to hit cities later in the week with the mercury plunging to -4C in London and -6C in Birmingham and Belfast.
Gatwick Express has also warned it was expecting the wintry conditions to impact services.
A statement said: ‘Snow and ice are expected on the Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern networks.
‘Snow is expected to fall on Tuesday and Wednesday, although not all areas of the network will be equally affected. Ice may cause an additional hazard, especially overnight.
‘Staff are working hard to minimise any disruption, but there could be some changes to trains.’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11830843/Snow-hits-London-15C-Artic-blast-sweeps-UK-Met-Office-extends-weather-warnings-ice-snow.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Commuters warned to brace for a rush-hour from hell as snow blankets UK