Catch the drift? Winter comes to Britain (at last)

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After balmy weeks in which daffodils bloomed and songbirds were baffled, winter finally arrived in earnest yesterday with people in many parts of Britain waking up to the first major snowfalls of the season. Severe weather warnings were in place for Scotland, Northern Ireland and most of northern England after nearly 48 hours of flurries brought with them winter scenes and perhaps premature predictions of a white Christmas.

Some of the heaviest snow fell in Scotland. Clashwood, near Muir of Ord in the Highlands, and Lenzie in Lanarkshire both looked like picture postcard scenes, with six inches of snow in some places. But motorists were held up for three hours after an accident on the M74, and temperatures in Dingwall dropped to -4C last night.

Spectacular sights greeted those waking up in Cowshill, Co Durham, and on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire.

The Met Office is not predicting a winter as severe as last year's, which saw the coldest December in 100 years, but it warned people, particularly motorists, to take extra care in the snow.