Weather warnings for snow and ice have been extended across the UK after the record for the coldest night of the year was broken for the second night in a row.
The Met Office has extended a yellow snow and ice covering northern Scotland and north-east England until noon on Friday. Warnings are already in place in the South West from 6pm on Tuesday until 10am Wednesday.
An ice warning is also in place in East England from 3pm on Tuesday until noon Wednesday. The national forecaster has also added a yellow ice warning in northern parts of Northern Ireland, including Belfast and Londonderry from noon Tuesday until noon Wednesday.
It comes after Braemer, in Aberdeenshire, recorded the coldest temperature in the UK on Tuesday night at a low of minus 17.3C, breaking Monday’s record of minus 15.7C. The next coldest temperature on Tuesday night was also recorded in Aberdeenshire, at minus 14.9C in Balmoral.
The freezing cold weather caused widespread travel disruption across the UK on Monday, and large parts of the country were hit by wintry conditions overnight. Fresh snow fell in several locations on Sunday, including Andrewsfield, Essex (9cm), Charlwood, Surrey (5cm) and Herstmonceux, East Sussex (4cm).
Roads in eastern and south-east England are among the worst affected, with drivers on northern sections of the M25 stranded for several hours as traffic was at a standstill. The Met Office said there will be icy stretches on untreated roads, pavements, and cycle paths due to the thawing of snow left over from Monday.
What will the weather be like on Tuesday?
A snow and ice warning is still in force for the far north of Scotland and the coast of northern England, which continues through to midday on Thursday (15 December). There is also a warning for wintry showers in many areas of northern Scotland and parts of north-east England for 48 hours from midday on Tuesday.
Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said there will be heavy snow in some places again on Tuesday. “Coming into force at midnight tonight all the way through to lunchtime on Thursday, (there is a) large snow and ice warning covering the North East of England, the whole sort of northern portion of Scotland, as well as the Highlands and islands,” he said.
He said there could be “as much as 15 to 20 centimetres of snow accumulating over high ground”. Mr Claydon said northern Scotland could record even colder temperatures on Tuesday after breaking the record for the coldest night of the year on Monday. In terms of temperature, we could see another very cold night, especially in parts of Scotland where we’ve got that lying snow,” he said.
“We saw minus 15C last night. We could see similar or potentially even colder tonight under clear skies with that snowfall lying in some places. So a very cold night there but also broadly very cold across the whole of the UK, with widespread freezing conditions.” Mr Claydon urged commuters across the UK to “leave a little bit more time” if driving and to travel with “a bit of extra caution”.
What impact has the freezing conditions had?
The Met Office warned drivers to expect possible delays on roads on Monday, as well as cancelled or delayed rail and air travel, while the AA advised motorists to adjust their driving to the freezing conditions.
Drivers on northern sections of the M25 were stranded for several hours as traffic was at a standstill, while National Highways said it had up to 25 gritters treating the M25 at any one time on Sunday and overnight into Monday. They spread 960 tonnes of salt and more than 18,000 litres of anti-freeze. Other roads in the area which suffered long delays included the M11, M2, A21, A27 and A249, while Sussex Police issued a warning for “treacherous” roads.
AA president Edmund King warned that the number of breakdown callouts is around 25% higher than normal and urged drivers to check fuel levels and take warm clothing, a charged mobile phone, food and drink before travelling. He said: “Many drivers were stranded or severely delayed on the northern section of the M25 last night between London Colney and the M11.
“The conditions show that it is essential to be prepared if you are driving. The best advice if you must drive is to take it easy and leave a much longer distance from the vehicle in front.”
The travel disruption was followed on Tuesday by the first of a wave of train strikes, as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are pressing ahead with two 48-hour strikes at Network Rail, and 14 train companies, from Tuesday and Friday. Trains are only running from 7.30am to 6.30pm on this week’s strike days, although many parts of the country will have no services, including most of Scotland and Wales.
The strike has also caused disruption across the London Underground, with the Central and Piccadilly lines experiencing severe delays, and minor delays across the Victoria, Jubilee, and Elizabeth lines. The Bakerloo line is part suspended between Harrow & Wealdstone to Queens Park due to the rail strike.
Scores of schools across the country have also been forced to close for a second day due to the cold weather and travel disruption continued on Tuesday, with icy roads making conditions difficult for drivers. Councils from Aberdeenshire to Cambridgeshire reported school closures, for reasons including heating failure, burst pipes and snow and ice.
Meanwhile, a boy, aged six, is fighting for his life after falling into an icy lake in Solihull, West Midlands, on Sunday (11 December). Three other boys aged eight, 10 and 11 died after falling into the lake during the same incident.