UK weather: Met Office issues yellow warnings for snow and ice as temperatures to drop to -4C
A level three cold alert has been declared for all of England until Friday
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The warnings cover western parts of the UK, Wales and the north of Scotland and run until noon on Thursday (19 January), while an ice warning for the south west of England lasts until 10am today.
The UK Health Security Agency has declared a level three cold weather alert for all of England until 9am on Friday 20 January. A level three alert requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions to protect people who are at high-risk, for example those vulnerable to the cold.
The Met Office said there is a 90% probability that the severe cold weather and icy conditions will last until Monday 23 January in parts of England.
Met Office forecaster Alex Deakin said there is “a gradual change to slightly milder weather as we get towards the weekend but for now the cold weather persists with snow showers and the risk of ice into Thursday”.
The warnings covering northern and south-west Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales suggest there may be “further wintry showers bringing disruption from ice and snow” while an ice warning is also in place for the south west of England.
It is set to be a cold and frosty start to many places on Thursday morning (19 January) when temperatures could dip to -4C or -3C in towns and cities or even -8C in rural spots where snow may lie on the ground.
Many areas will go on to have a cold, dry, bright winter’s day with temperatures of around 3C, while a “brisk cold wind” will persist in northern Scotland.
The Met Office said: “As well as some low temperatures overnight, scattered showers will continue to affect northern and western areas. These showers are likely to be a combination of rain, sleet and snow, with some accumulations possible, especially over high ground.”
On its website the Met Office added: “Cold air continues to affect the country and is expected to remain through the rest of the working week and much of, if not all the way through the weekend. This brings widespread overnight frosts with some freezing fog and daytime temperatures struggling to recover much above freezing, especially in the north.
“Brisk winds, along with spells of wintry showers are also possible, mainly until Friday, with icy conditions developing as a result. As previously discussed, there remains uncertainty as to the longevity of the cold conditions across the west, with temperatures potentially recovering over the weekend.
“This a result of a slow-moving frontal system bringing milder conditions, though this could stall to retain the colder conditions, especially in the east into next week.”
‘Adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care’
Members of the public have been warned to expect longer journey times by road, bus and train as well as some disruption due to the risk of ice and snow.
Heavy snowfall was reported across the north of Scotland and parts of Wales, and south-west England saw showers of rain, sleet, snow and hail on Wednesday morning, making driving conditions difficult.
Dale Hipkiss, National Network Manager at National Highways, said: “Freezing conditions bring so many hazards such as ice and snow and take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow lots of extra time when travelling to prepare for the unexpected. It is therefore always important to plan ahead for your journey, listen to the weather forecasts, and if weather conditions become challenging, adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care.
“We have a section of our website dedicated to travelling during the autumn and winter period, as part of our guide to travelling in severe weather. It’s also a good idea for people to check their vehicles, such as tyres, coolant and oil levels, before heading out to reduce the risk of breakdowns.”
Mr Deakin said temperatures are set to drop “well below freezing, particularly in rural areas” this week and an “extra hazard” heading into Friday could be fog. He added: “It could turn quite dense in some places, particularly parts of northern Ireland, and it may be slow to clear.”
A major incident was declared in Somerset due to the risk of flooding across the county on Wednesday (18 January). The Environment Agency in the south west said that up to seven temporary pumps were working at Northmoor to help reduce the water levels in the area and “we are already seeing the benefits”.
Somerset Council have urged people to avoid walking in standing water or on ice as “both can be really dangerous”.