More snow looms as Britain suffers winter chaos

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Heavy snowfall and freezing conditions caused major disruption across almost all of Britain today with a warning tonight of more snow on the way.

Bitter easterly winds continued to bring Arctic conditions and forecasters warned there is little chance of an early reprieve.

Many commuters worked from home, thousands of children could not go to school and motorists faced travel chaos as a number of roads were impassable.

Almost every corner of the UK woke up to between 0.8in (2cm) and 4in (10cm) of snow this morning, with the east coast worst hit by flurries and sub-zero temperatures.

Some places in the south of England saw up to 10cm of snow due to a brisk wind pushing the showers inland.

In Scotland, Kinloss in Moray saw temperatures plunge to minus 13C overnight and during the day the highest temperature recorded there was minus 2C.

The warmest temperature today was 2.8C in Anglesey, North Wales, while Cromer in Norfolk saw the mercury rise to 2.5C.

Forecasters have warned that more snow showers are expected across England, Wales and eastern Scotland tomorrow.

Aisling Creevey, forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Tomorrow night could see more widespread showers across Britain bringing more wintry conditions.

"So much cold air has entrenched the UK at the moment.

"We are expecting a maximum temperature of 1C in the south-east of England tomorrow, the south-west could see 3C on the coast but sub-zero temperatures further inland.

"In the north-east of England, the maximum estimate is 2C. In Scotland, generally most places are not likely to get above minus 3C."

Severe weather warnings were issued by the Met Office for almost all regions of Britain.

Most places were warned to expect widespread icy roads and Tayside and Fife, south-west Scotland, north-east England, Yorkshire and Humber, London, south-east England, the East of England and the East and West Midlands were on alert for heavy snowfall.

The north-east of England, the East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber were also warned of drifting snow.

As driving conditions were described as hazardous, the AA recorded one of its busiest days on record yesterday with almost 20,000 breakdowns.

Today it received an average of 1,350 calls an hour, a spokesman said.

The RAC said callouts to breakdowns had peaked at 2,000 an hour so far today.

Lincolnshire Police said a man was killed in Ruskington Fen when his Land Rover left the road and ended up in a ditch yesterday morning.

Although investigations continue, officers suspect icy road conditions could have played a part in the incident.

Rail passengers were also affected by the early winter freeze. Train services all over the country were badly affected by the severe weather, with some services not operating and others being badly delayed.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said that, as of 1pm today, 70% of trains were arriving at their destination on time.

Edinburgh Airport reopened at noon after closing at 6.15pm yesterday but a number of flights arriving and departing from the snow-stricken transport hub faced disruption.

London City Airport reported cancellations and severe delays while Southampton Airport was open but operator BAA said some flights were being affected by the adverse conditions.

Luton Airport said there were delays and cancellations while some flights were cancelled at Gatwick.

Thousands of schoolchildren had a second day off from classes.

Around 60 schools were closed in Lincolnshire this morning, and the same figure was reported in Derbyshire.

More than 70 schools were shut across Nottinghamshire while in Cornwall 42 were closed with another 43 experiencing disruption to classes because of the weather. About 100 schools shut in Kent.

Edinburgh City Council, Perth and Kinross Council, West Lothian, Moray Council, Dundee City Council and Midlothian Council all said schools would remain closed today.

Scottish Borders Council also said all schools were shut.

Insurer RSA estimated that the freezing weather conditions could cost the UK economy up to £1.2 billion a day.

The firm said that retailers and the restaurant and bar industries are likely to be the worst affected by the snow.

A spokesman said the bitterly cold conditions could impact the amount of Christmas shopping done and would curtail people's plans to attend Christmas parties.

RSA director David Greaves said: "Bad weather in the run-up to Christmas will have a major impact on the UK's economy and could lead to significant losses for already struggling businesses.

"If we lose just one fifth of our daily GDP through companies not being able to open and people cancelling spending plans on events and shopping, we're looking at about £1.2 billion every working day."

As other retailers worry about how the snow will affect their businesses, the sledge-selling trade is roaring.

Halfords said that 16,600 additional sledges are being shipped in from across the globe as the snow keeps falling.

The retailer has sold 6,660 sledges in the last three weeks compared with 72 the same time last year.