Temperatures plummet again after brief respite
Britain woke to sub-zero temperatures again today, paving the way for another week of bitterly cold weather.
After a brief reprieve from arctic conditions this weekend, when many parts of the country were graced with sunshine and milder weather, the big freeze returned with a vengeance.
Last night, temperatures plummeted to minus 18C in parts of Yorkshire while this morning commuters faced chilly journeys to work, blighted by snow and patches of freezing fog.
Stephen Davenport, forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It was another very cold night and it has been well below freezing almost everywhere.
"Even London was close to minus 3C - it reached minus 2.8C in St James's Park.
"Only the Isles of Scilly and the far south-west of Cornwall stayed above freezing.
"It's been so low overnight that temperatures are struggling to come up."
A band of snow moving south across Scotland is likely to reach northern England later this afternoon, he said, potentially bringing more chaos to the roads as motorists struggle home from work.
Some parts are expected to see snowfalls of between five to 10 centimetres.
Meanwhile, central England and areas such as Gloucester and the Cotswolds are likely to see patches of freezing fog.
The lowest overnight temperature of minus 18C was recorded in Topcliffe in North Yorkshire.
Today the highest maximum temperatures across the UK are expected to fluctuate between a chilly 0C and minus 2C and there is no respite from the cold in sight.
"I think we might get close to normal temperatures on Saturday but we are certainly not seeing any temperatures rising above normal," Mr Davenport added.
"Once we have had a peak on Saturday, temperatures will be dropping away again."
Some parts of the UK enjoyed a brief break from the chill over the weekend. The mercury rose to a comparatively balmy 7.7C in Chivenor, north Devon.
But the Met Office has issued severe weather warnings in northern Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It said that people in Orkney and Shetland should be prepared for heavy snow and icy roads while Grampian, Highlands and Eilean Siar in the Outer Hebrides and Northern Ireland were warned of widespread ice on the road networks.
At least seven people have died during the recent spell of bleak weather.
They included two men who were killed in a motorway crash on the M62 in Humberside and two teenage girls who died when their Peugeot 206 collided with a Royal Mail box van in Cumbria.
The men, aged 30 and 56 and both from Nottinghamshire, were travelling in freezing conditions on the eastbound carriageway between junctions 35 and 36 at 11.50am on Friday when the crash happened.
Their silver pick-up truck was in collision with a white lorry.
The lorry driver, a 36-year-old Manchester man, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, Humberside Police said.
It also emerged that the two girls died in treacherous road conditions, which police said could have contributed to the tragedy.
Grace Simpson and Jessica Lakin, both 19, were killed on the A595 in Carlisle.
Earlier in the week two Cumbrian pensioners in Kirkby Stephen and Workington died after falling in their gardens where they spent hours lying in sub-zero temperatures until they were found.
And a good Samaritan who stopped his car to help a stranded motorist in the Yorkshire Dales was killed when he was struck by another vehicle.
Amid fears of essential supplies not getting through, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond temporarily relaxed restrictions on truckers' working hours.
All but one fixture in the Scottish Football League were postponed - with Alloa Athletic's Second Division home fixture with Peterhead FC surviving because of its artificial pitch.
The highest profile casualty was Manchester United's Premier League game at Blackpool, and many other matches throughout the English Football League and involving non-league clubs were postponed.
Councils said their gritting crews worked to keep non-motorway roads as clear as possible, but large amounts of black ice remained.
A car driver has died in a crash involving a tanker in freezing conditions in north Lincolnshire.
Police said it was too early to say if the weather played a part in the accident on the A15 near Hibaldstow on Saturday.
Humberside Police said a silver Peugeot was in a crash with a Renault articulated tanker at 7.39am.
The Peugeot was travelling north from Caenby Corner towards junction four of the M180 and the tanker was travelling in the opposite direction when they crashed, a spokesman said.
A 55-year-old Lincoln man - believed to be driving the Peugeot - suffered fatal injuries and died. The driver of the lorry was not injured.
The spokesman said: "Officers would like to speak to anyone who witnessed the collision or the vehicles prior to the collision."
The AA said it had attended more than 10,800 breakdowns by 11am, with calls coming in at just under 3,000 per hour - roughly double the usual rate.
Spokesman Gavin Hill-Smith said: "Extremely cold weather across the country coinciding with Monday morning, one of the busiest times of the week, has made for a very busy morning - even busier than last Monday when we had the widespread snow."
Problems reported included vehicles failing to start and frozen door locks.
The afternoon rush-hour is expected to bring more chaos for motorists.
"It's going to be a very busy evening and a very busy week as well," Mr Hill-Smith added.
Some flights at Southampton Airport were delayed due to "adverse weather".
Travellers were urged to contact individual airlines for the latest information.
Some flights were also cancelled or delayed at Heathrow because of "snow disruption at other airports".
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