Minus 4 (too cold for an ostrich to bury its head)

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The Independent Online
Revellers in Trafalgar Square and in the Highlands of Scotland shivered in temperatures of -4C during one of the coldest New Year's Eves for 15 years.

Two people died as the icy weather blew in from Russia where anyone foolhardy enough to see in the New Year in Red Square, Moscow, would have had to brave wind blasts of -18C.

Temperatures in some areas of Britain were as low as -10C, with Kent and Sussex taking the brunt. Snow lay up to 10cms deep on the South Downs, while the London Weather Centre reported 12cms in parts of East Sussex. Southern England last saw such snows in 1981 when 15cms fell.

In Suffolk a 57-year-old farmworker collapsed and died while digging his car out of snow and it was revealed that a 40-year-old woman fell and froze to death while walking her dog in Cardiff on Sunday. The charity Crisis decided to keep open 13 of its Christmas shelters for the homeless that were due to close yesterday.

The snow showers moved north during the evening and speed restrictions were widely imposed in Lincolnshire, North Wales and parts of southern Scotland. Main roads around Penrith were blocked by drifting snow and ice while many in Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Cumbria were only passable in a four-wheel drive vehicle. The Automobile Association stepped up its patrols by 20 per cent and warned drivers to revise any plans to travel far.

A Eurostar spokesman said yesterday that the cold weather had probably been to blame for Monday's train breakdown. Snow caked on the undercarriage is suspected to have melted and caused the power failure which stranded 300 passengers for two and half hours.

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