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Snow brings warm spell to an abrupt end

Sub-zero temperatures sweep Scotland and Northern and central England, but London and the south east look set to escape the snow.

After one of the warmest Marches on record, parts of Britain today woke up to a thick blanket of snow and predictions of sub-zero temperatures.

More than six inches of snow fell in the space of four hours in Scotland, bringing a spell of unseasonably warm weather to an abrupt end.

As an Arctic weather front continues to sweep across Britain, forecasters are predicting temperatures will drop as low as -5C, with northern England and the Midlands expected to bear the brunt of the freezing weather and raw north-easterly winds tomorrow.

The cold snap is expected to be short lived however, with temperatures set to recover on Thursday, and London and the south east likely to escape the snow all together.

Much of northern Scotland was carpeted in around 10cm of snow overnight, with depths of 17cm recorded in Aviemore, and temperatures dipping as low as -2C in Glen Ogle.

The Met Office issued an ‘amber’ severe weather warning for snow in Inverness, Badenoch, Strathspey and Nairn, advising the public to be prepared for transport disruption and icey patches developing on untreated roads.

Five people, including two young children, were taken to hospital after being involved in a two-car collision on the A9 at Skiach, Evanton in the Highlands. A female passenger in one of the vehicles had to be airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

Northern Constabulary said driving conditions in Highland areas were particularly dangerous, advising motorists to take care and allow extra time for their journeys.

The A939 Grantown-on-Spey to Dava road was shut, as was the B9007 Carrbridge to Ferness route and the A941 Dufftown to Rhynie. Snow gates were closed on the A93 at Braemar and at Cock Bridge to Tomintoul.

The wintry weather has also cut off power supplies in many areas of Scotland.

11,000 Scottish Hydro customers were left without power, with 6,000 of those in the Tayside area. The remaining customers without power were in north east Scotland and the Highlands.

Scottish Hydro said engineers are working to fix the power cuts and hopes to have its customers reconnected by early this evening.

And a major rescue was launched after nine hillwalkers, including six teenagers, became stranded in the heavy snowfall.

Grampian Police, a Royal Navy helicopter and a mountain rescue team based at Braemar, Aberdeenshire, were all involved in the operation to rescue them from the Derry Cairngorm mountain. Police said in a statement: "All nine were safe and well."

The wintery weather is in stark contrast to March's mini-heatwave. Over the last century only five years had warmer Marches: 1938, 1948, 1957, 1990 and 1997.

Scotland’s March temperature record was broken last week, with highs of 23.6C recorded in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. Last night, just seven days later, six inches of snow fell in the town and temperatures dipped below freezing.