Record temperatures as big freeze tightens grip

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The Independent Online

Britain shivered in some record low temperatures overnight - including a "ridiculously low" minus 17C in Wales - as the big freeze maintained its grip on the country, forecasters said today.

The mercury at Llysdinam near Llandrindod Wells plunged to minus 17.3C - the principality's lowest ever temperature for November and the UK's chilliest for the month since 1985.

With much of the country blanketed in snow, Shawbury in Shropshire also dropped to minus 12.5C, Lough Fea in Northern Ireland to minus 9.2C and Church Fenton in North Yorks bottomed out at minus 11.9C

Michael Dukes of MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the Arctic conditions were caused by a combination of light winds, snow cover and clear skies - and could see readings down to minus 20C in Scotland later this week.

"You are seeing some ridiculously low temperatures - it has been a bit like it is in the middle of Scandinavia," he said.

"There should be a bit more of a breeze over the next day or two, which will not feel quite as extreme.

"But then we might see temperatures threaten minus 20C in the Scottish glens later.

"This is certainly an extraordinary cold snap."

The UK's lowest ever recorded temperature in November was minus 23.3C recorded in Braemar, in the Scottish Highlands, on November 14, 1919.

Other places were very chilly overnight, with Drumnadrochit in the Highlands seeing minus 12C and Northolt in the London area minus 6.5C at Northolt. It was also minus 9.2C in North Dartmoor.

Parts of Scotland and north east England have already seen well over a foot of snow since the start of the cold snap last week.

Latest weather reports show that up to 4ins (10cm) of snow has fallen in parts of central England and Norfolk.

But there is up to 16ins (40cm) in parts of Northumberland, and even more in northern and eastern Scotland.

Eastern parts will bear the brunt of more wintry weather today and there is an added risk of drifting snow, thanks to the biting easterly winds. Temperatures will also struggle to get above freezing, even in the big cities.

The severe conditions could last well into next week, forecasters have warned.

Tom Tobler of MeteoGroup said: "The cold weather will stay during the week with a brisk easterly wind developing which will make it feel even colder and which might bring more snow showers."

He said there could be a mix of rain, sleet and snow later in the week, adding: "People should be bracing themselves for more cold weather for the working week and beyond."

Motoring rescue service the AA said it dealt with around 15,000 breakdowns by the end of yesterday - up 80% on a normal November Saturday.

Two people were injured in a four-vehicle pile-up on the M1 near Sheffield, where an inch of snow was lying on minor roads.

The East of England Ambulance Service also recorded a spate of traffic collisions, with cars skidding into ditches, lampposts, fences and fields.

Flights at some airports were delayed - including at Jersey Airport where lightning hit the radar system overnight. There were also runway closures at airports including Luton, Newcastle and Inverness.

A number of sporting events were cancelled, including race meetings and FA Cup fixtures Hartlepool United vs Yeovil Town and Notts County vs Bournemouth.

But in Allenheads, Northumberland, skiers were praying for more snow on the village's 100m ski slope.

However, an Allenheads ski spokesman said: "There is insufficient snow in Allenheads for skiing and the road conditions are bad so we are discouraging people from trying to get up to the slope."

In Scotland, skiers were also able to enjoy a day on the slopes yesterday.

The unusual weather has been caused by high pressure over Greenland and low pressure in the Baltic, forcing cold winds from the north east across Europe.