Cloudy with a chance of 'thundersnow'! Forecasters warn of 70mph winds as sub-zero temperatures return

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A widespread alert was issued today for the northern half of England and most of Scotland - warning of ice, snow and freezing weather combined with lightning.

The Met Office issued the following amber "be aware" alert valid from 7pm on Tuesday to 11am on Wednesday: "Icy stretches are likely to form on untreated surfaces across Scotland and northern England during Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, with upland areas most prone early in the period following snow and partial thaw. Further wintry showers in the overnight period are likely to increase the ice risk by dawn on Wednesday."

The warning covers as far as the northern half of Norfolk.

A separate amber snow alert, valid from 7pm on Tuesday and throughout Wednesday, says: "Snow showers, some heavy, will affect upland parts of Grampian and north Highland later on Tuesday evening. On ground above 250 metres fresh accumulations of 2-5 cm of snow are expected, possibly 5-10 cm over higher parts with severe drifting in the northerly gales. During Tuesday night and Wednesday further snow showers will affect the north and northeast, including low ground, some heavy. Further fresh falls of 3-7 cm building up inland away from the immediate coast, with drifting. Some icy stretches also developing."

Meanwhile other alerts flag up strong winds for coastal Northern Irleand, west Wales, and parts of of Cornwal and Devon.

Snow storms brought parts of the country to a standstill at the end of January. Hundreds of drivers were forced to spend the night in their cars on the M6 in Lancashire after more than a foot of snow fell.

The cold snap was followed by widespread floods caused by melting snow and heavy rain.