This winter is set to be the coldest for 30 years

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This winter is shaping up to be the coldest for 30 years, forecasters said yesterday.

The prediction came as the weather once again caused havoc with parts of the UK deluged by heavy snow.

Wales and the central belt of England bore the brunt of the latest icy blast with Manchester Airport temporarily shut this morning for snow clearance.

The A616 linking Sheffield and Manchester was also closed due to heavy snow, the Highways Agency said.

The freezing temperatures and persistent heavy snowfall have meant this winter is on course to be the coldest since the late 1970s.

Rob Hutchinson, forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, explained: "This winter is shaping up to be the coldest for 30 years.

"There is a 95% chance that the period will have been the coldest since the winter of 1978/79".

Winter temperature as a whole is measured in a three-month block.

Forecasters said they would only be able to confirm if this season was the coldest for 30 years at the end of February.

But with more freezing temperatures and snow predicted throughout the coming week, the winter of 2009/10 seems destined to be a record breaker.

Around 10cms of snow fell on higher ground in the Pennines overnight, with 7cms falling in parts of Nottinghamshire.

But, with the lengthening daylight and slowly increasing daytime temperatures the majority of the snow is already melting.

But many Monday morning commuters will run the gauntlet of icy roads tomorrow as temperatures plummet overnight.

Mr Hutchinson explained: "Most of the snow fell overnight and into the first part of this morning.

"A band of snow passed across Wales, much of the Midlands and parts of Northern England. A lot of places have had around 5cms.

"The surplus of wet water on road surfaces as the snow melts means that ice could be a real problem.

"Drivers will have to be very careful tomorrow morning."

The prospects for the coming days appear equally bleak.

He added: "It's a real mixture through the rest of the week.

"It's generally staying quite cold, almost anywhere in the UK could see some snow."

Manchester Airport re-opened after heavy overnight snow on the runaway caused it to close shortly after 7am.

Around 13 flights were affected by the weather.

Passengers were advised to check-in as normal but to expect some disruption.

A stretch of the A161 over the Pennines was shut and later reopened due to overnight snow, the Highways Agency said. Other routes were unaffected.

A spokesman for Network Rail said there were no weather-related problems on the trains.