Arctic conditions expected to ease

 

Today is likely to see the end of the cold snap, with the mercury finally rising slightly after several days of record-breaking sub-zero temperatures, according to forecasters.

Cloud cover moving down the country from the north will bring much-welcome slightly warmer weather, after several days and nights of bitterly cold weather.

Temperatures struggled to get above freezing yesterday after Britain endured its coldest night of the winter on Friday night.

But Paul Knightley, forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the cold spell was coming to an end - although it could take some time.

He said: "We are coming to the end of the cold spell. It's going to be a slow process, it's not going to suddenly be massively mild.

"Some places will see a dramatic change in temperature but it may not be something people necessarily notice because they have been so low."

He said cloud spreading down the country from the north would bring a rise in temperature and some patchy drizzle and light snow in some parts.

"The snow itself is not going to be near the amounts we have seen but there will be some drizzle which will fall on to very cold ground so we will see the risk of some ice, especially in untreated areas."

Daytime temperatures of around 8C (46.4F) are expected in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales today, while eastern and southern areas are expected to have readings of around 5C (41F).

Mr Knightley said many areas could expect fog tonight, adding: "By Monday morning it may well be very grey and foggy in some places but not much frost around."

The mercury plummeted to minus 18.3C (minus 0.94F) in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, on Friday night, while sub-zero temperatures were recorded in other areas, as low as minus 15.6C (3.92F) in Holbeach, Lincolnshire, and minus 11C (12.2F) in Charnwood, Surrey.

Overnight was slightly milder in most regions, with Chesham again recording the lowest UK temperature of -minus 15.4C (4.3F).

The Met Office said Friday had probably been the coldest night in England since December 2010.

It has issued a "yellow" severe weather warning instructing people to "be aware" of ice on roads today for the East Midlands, east of England, London and south east England.

The weather wreaked havoc with yesterday's sporting calendar after a number of matches and racing fixtures fell victim to frozen conditions, with some of today's matches also cancelled, including the opening round of rugby league's Northern Rail Cup.

Ambulance crews were called out to three separate cases of people who narrowly avoided tragedy in icy water, West Midlands Ambulance Service said.

A spokeswoman said crews were called to one man who reportedly jumped into a canal near Chancel Way in Halesowen, Birmingham to rescue his dog. Both were found out of the water when they arrived.

In a separate call two teenage boys, aged 13 and 14, were taken to hospital by ambulance after falling through ice in Doxey Marshes near Creswell Farm Drive, Stafford.

And in a third incident crews were called to Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield, to reports of children playing on a frozen lake, but no one was hurt after police moved them away, the spokeswoman said.

"Adults and children alike are reminded that frozen lakes, canals and ponds are extremely dangerous and can have serious or even fatal consequences," she added.

"In all three cases ambulance crews have responded to, those involved have had very lucky escapes."

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