Britain braced for snow chaos

 

Parts of Britain have been placed on amber alert today as the country lies in wait for widespread snow.

The Met Office's severe weather warning, at the second highest level, urges people to be prepared as forecasters warned of up to 15cm of snow.

Sub-zero temperatures are expected in much of the country, with the mercury likely to hit minus 9 across the Midlands.

A temperature of minus 10.6C was recorded in Chesham, Buckinghamshire at 2am, and of minus 10.3C in Benson, Oxfordshire.

Billy Payne, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "We will see a frontal system that will push south eastwards across the UK and the rain associated with it will turn to snow.

"There will be some significant accumulations quite widely across much of England. Away from the South West and across eastern parts of Scotland we are looking at 5 to 10cm of snow in many areas.

"And for many parts of northern England, East Anglia and the Midlands we may see up to 15cm in places.

"Wales and the South West along with parts of western Scotland will mostly see rain.

"There will be rain for Northern Ireland as well but I think elsewhere we are looking at risk of snow.

"It should clear away south eastwards by tonight. It will probably clear all but the far South East and East Anglia by dawn tomorrow."

The amber alert applies to Yorkshire and Humber, the West Midlands, East Midlands, east and south west England, as well as London and south-east England, and north-west England.

A yellow alert, which warns people to "be aware", was in place for parts of Scotland, Wales and north-west England.

Much of England is also under a Cold Weather alert of level 3, which warns of "100% probability" of severe cold weather, icy conditions and heavy snow.

The deep freeze has seen daytime temperatures plummet four or five degrees lower than average for February - traditionally the coldest month of the year.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA) said an army of council staff and volunteers would be braving the elements to make sure vulnerable people were cared for, and residents were also being encouraged to call in on elderly neighbours.

"Motorists are being advised to check the latest weather and gritting updates on council websites and 'gritter Twitter' feeds, as well as refresh themselves on winter driving guidance and what to stock in their car," he said.

"Information about school closures and bin collections is also being updated regularly online.

"Thousands of new grit bins have been placed in estates and side streets, residents have been given their own bags of salt along with salt spreaders in some neighbourhoods, and arrangements have been made with parish councils, community groups, snow wardens and farmers to grit hard-to-reach areas.

"There is no law against people clearing pavements or public spaces. Ministers have repeatedly welcomed public-spiritedness and said common sense, benefit of the doubt in favour of helpfulness and a responsibility on people to tread carefully in slippery conditions should prevail in the face of complaints. Many council websites carry advice on clearing pavements."

British Gas said its fleet of all-weather 4x4s was on standby to get engineers out to customers and keep Britain warm during the cold snap.

A spokesman said the company had received more than 200,000 calls in the last five days, compared with 120,000 to 140,000 during a normal winter week, and was expecting a further 50,000 this weekend, compared with 20,000 normally in the winter.

A spokesman said: "With the roads becoming treacherous across the country, British Gas's fleet of nearly 100 4x4s will help British Gas to meet its customer commitment, to make same-day visits to Homecare customers who have no heating or hot water and report the problem before 1pm."

The Department for Transport said it was now better prepared than ever for severe winter weather.

It said salt stocks across Great Britain stood at more than 2.4 million tonnes - a million more than last year.

A spokeswoman said January 2011 salt stocks were 810,000 tonnes, while January 2012 stocks were 2.497 million tonnes - a 208% increase.

The AA said its patrols attended around double the usual number of breakdowns yesterday.

Areas expected to record snowfall of up to 15cm include Cumbria, Lincolnshire, East Anglia, North Yorkshire, the Peak District and the Midlands.

A string of sporting events have fallen victim to the icy conditions with Portsmouth's home match against Hull City becoming the first Championship fixture cancelled due to a frozen pitch.

Several matches in the lower leagues had already been called off.

Racing was also heavily hit, with the meeting at Ffos Las scrapped today, while Sandown and Wetherby were cancelled yesterday.

Tomorrow's meeting at Kempton will be subject to an inspection because of the threat of overnight snow.

But swimmers were not deterred by ice on the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park this morning and gritted their teeth as they plunged into its chilly waters.

PA

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup