Respite after snowfall but drivers are warned to proceed with caution in icy conditions

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Much of the UK will escape further snow today, 24 hours after widespread snowfall caused travel problems for motorists and rail users.

While Britain is bracing itself for a prolonged cold snap, there will be some respite with dry and bright weather today, albeit with a nip in the air.

Temperatures will struggle to get above freezing, bringing widespread ice and and motorists are encouraged to be on high alert.

The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning, predicting severe weather for all of England and warning the public to be prepared for the risk of disruption.

Thousands of motorists were affected by the cold weather yesterday, and the AA estimated it attended more than 16,000 breakdowns, compared to around 10,500 for an average Monday.

It warned drivers to be prepared and carry winter kit in their cars, while the RAC said it had extra patrols on the road as it expected up to 56,000 breakdowns and widespread disruption.

The Highways Agency warned motorists to take extra care on slippery an icy roads. The agency has a 500-strong fleet of salt spreaders and snow ploughs on standby should there be a heavy dump of snow or heavily iced roads.

Steve Crosthwaite, head of the National Traffic Operations Centre, said: "During severe winter weather we ask drivers to check road conditions and the weather forecast before setting out.

"If conditions are poor, and journeys are not essential, we advise drivers to think about delaying until conditions improve and allowing our winter fleet the chance to treat the roads."

Eastern parts of England and Scotland had snow overnight, with as much as 17cm (7in) falling in some parts of Norfolk, though the majority of areas experienced 2-5cm (1-2in). In Wales there were heavy showers during the night, which turned to snow on higher ground.

Temperatures fell to -3C in Bainbridge, North Yorkshire and at Eskdalemuir in southern Scotland, and was below freezing across many northern parts of the UK.

Nick Prebble, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, warned there would be a sprinkling of snow along some parts of eastern England today, but said most of the country would be dry.

He said: "There will be sub-zero temperatures across much of the UK over the next few nights. South-west England will be a bit milder, but otherwise it will be a bit cold.

"We are going to see some snow showers in eastern parts of England. Wintry showers will come off the North Sea, so bordering counties could see another centimetre or two of snow where it does fall. But elsewhere it should be fairly dry."

Temperatures in London will get to around 3C, and the warmest place in the country will be Cornwall, which will get to around 8C.

But they are expected to plunge to around -8C tomorrow night, with the possibility of more light snow flurries.

Sub-zero temperatures expected over the next week and increased heating bills mean there are concerns that the number of deaths this winter could top the 24,000 in the relatively mild 2011-2012 winter, the Local Government Association said.

The LGA urged people to look out for their neighbours.

Cllr David Rogers, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: "As well as gritting our roads and clearing snow, council teams are ready to be drafted in to provide a variety of services to help the vulnerable deal with the severe winter weather, from carrying out emergency household repairs to delivering hot meals and portable heaters.

"But council staff can't be everywhere. They rely on community-spirited residents to look out for each other.

"We are calling on neighbours, postmen, milkmen and paperboys to step up and help save lives by knocking on doors and reporting anything out of the ordinary."

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