Hundreds of drivers spent the night in their cars amid bitterly cold temperatures after becoming stranded on roads as heavy snow continues to cripple the UK's transport system.
Schools around the country were to be closed on Thursday as Britain braced for another day of sub-zero temperatures, icy blasts and "blizzard-like" conditions.
Many roads have been left impassable by drifts of snow, while trains and flights have also been hit by delays and cancellations as Storm Emma rolls in from the Atlantic and meets the chilly Siberian air of the so-called "Beast from the East".
Follow for live updates as the country faces another day of disruption.
Temperatures plunged to lows of -6C overnight, and the Met Office warned it could feel as cold as -11C during the day as winds continue to strengthen.
Good morning and welcome to The Independent's live blog. We'll be bringing you the latest updates as Britain faces another day of freezing temperatures, icy winds, heavy snow, and travel disruption.
Travel chaos intensifies as snow sees hundreds of flights and trains cancelled“Is your journey really necessary?” As atrocious weather sweeps across the UK, the old wartime message is the order of the day. Hundreds of motorists were stranded in their cars in Scotland overnight, particularly on the M80 north east of Glasgow. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has been providing food and water.
Red alert in England and Wales
The Met Office has issued a red alert for wind and snow in part of south-west England and south Wales.
The warning says heavy snow and blizzard conditions are expected between 3pm today and 2am tomorrow.
A red alert means "risk to life is likely," along with widespread damage, travel and power disruption.
Gas shortage warning
The National Grid has issued a gas deficit warning in response to "a series of significant supply losses".
The operator of the UK's power network has asked industrial customers to use less gas as supplies run low amid increased demand during the freezing weather.
Here are some more details on the red alert issued for south-west England and south Wales:
Met Office upgrades snow warning to highest red alert level in parts of England and WalesThe Met Office has issued a red alert weather warning for parts of south Wales and the south west of England as Storm Emma meets the "Beast from the East". The alert warns "widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely."
Here is our breaking story on the National Grid's gas deficit warning:
National Grid issues 'gas deficit warning' over fears supplies could run out due to freezing temperaturesThe National Grid has issued a "gas deficit warning" over fears supplies could run out as temperatures plummet across the UK. The operator issued the guidance at 5am as supply slipped 48 million cubic metres short of demand. A spokesperson said the notice was a "first stage" warning to say "it's looking tight", which will remain in place until 5am on Friday.
London's Paddington rail station has closed completely due to "severe weather conditions".
The station is a major hub for commuters travelling into and out of the capital from the west.
Greater Western Railway, which runs Paddington, said it had closed "until further notice" from 8am today.
Thirty flights have been cancelled at Manchester Airport "so far" - suggesting more may follow.
Around 200 have also been cut at Heathrow, the UK's worst-affected airport.
EasyJet has also cancelled dozens of flights out of Gatwick and Luton.
The Met Office has issued a new amber weather warning for snow in parts of Northern Ireland.
The alert, in place for counties Antrim, Armagh and Down, says "frequent and occasionally heavy snow showers" are expected to continue through much of Thursday leading to "further significant accumulations with drifting".
It adds: "Delays and cancellations to all forms of transport are likely. Roads may become blocked by deep snow and some rural communities might become cut off.
"Interruptions to power supplies and other services such as telephone and mobile phone networks, could also occur."
The warning is in place between 9am and 6pm today.
Around 250 schools have been closed across Northern Ireland have been closed today.
Snow has also affected a number of flights into and out of Belfast International and George Best Belfast City airports, with cancellations and delays on routes to and from Scotland and the south of England.
Public transport operator Translink has reported a number of delays to bus and rail services.
Rail operator Southern has a novel excuse for delayed trains in Sussex:
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