Mercury drops as cold, snow and an extra hour in bed mark the end of British summer time


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The Independent Online

The first snow and the end of summer time both mark the onset of winter this weekend.

Scotland and parts of the East Coast had a dusting of snow today and tomorrow more is expected, significantly earlier than last year when the first flakes were not seen until December.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that hundreds of gritters are on standby to treat roads as required.

The first real cold snap of the season meant that night-time temperatures were expected to be below freezing in many areas last night, although after tonight they may be back to more normal levels. But cloud and rain will remain.

Tomorrow night is when the clocks go back an hour, marking the return from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time, and bringing in the dark evenings which will now be with us till the end of March.

The bad weather is also affecting wildlife. Thousands of migrating birds have been dying before reaching England this week because of an appalling combination of fog and winds around the coast, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Some fishermen have told the charity of the deaths of many exhausted and disorientated "garden" birds plunging into the sea around their vessels, a spokesman said.