The Met Office has upgraded its “cold weather action” warning to
level three – one underneath a national emergency – for all of England,
urging social and healthcare services to target specific actions at
high-risk groups.

It said: “This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable
patients and disrupt the delivery of services.”

A number of yellow and amber warnings are also in place across the country to
highlight the hazardous conditions and likelihood of disruption to travel
services caused by the ice, snow and freezing temperatures.

Mark Seltzer, a forecaster for the Met Office, said: “We have got a plethora
of weather warnings out and there is a band of rain sleet and snow making
its way across the country.”

London and the South East has already had a light dusting with wintery showers
expected to continue throughout the day before a heavier snowfall overnight
which will bring several centimetres of snow to most areas.

Two border collie dogs enjoy playing in the snow in Bingham,
Nottinghamshire (PA)

The South West is set for rain, sleet and snow throughout the day which will
clear overnight leaving “a big risk of ice”, Mr Seltzer said.

A second, more significant, band of snow will begin making its way westward
from Wales and the North West this morning and is expected to bring 10cm of
snow to high ground and up to 5cm elsewhere by this afternoon.

Areas east of the Pennines are likely to be the worst hit.

Snow which fell over the weekend in Scotland is also expected to linger, with
the possibility of a light fresh dusting today.

Temperatures will hover at around three or four degrees for large swathes of
the country throughout the day.

Mr Seltzer added: “It is going to be pretty chilly overnight, especially in
areas with clear skies in the west which will see temperatures of minus four
degrees.”

(Alamy)

The AA has warned that 75% of drivers are not prepared for conditions on the
roads, and urged drivers to carry an essential winter kit and check their
cars before getting behind the wheel.

The RAC is expecting up to 56,000 breakdowns and widespread disruption. It has
placed extra patrols on stand-by to help stranded motorists and said
call-outs are expected to rise by 20 per cent or more.

The Highways Agency has said it is “well prepared” for winter
conditions but warned drivers to take extra care.

A spokeswoman said: “We have a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art winter
vehicles on standby, supported by tried-and-tested winter resilience plans.

“We have reviewed salt stock levels and taken action where needed to
enhance our resilience and we have again established a reserve salt stock to
help ensure that there is enough salt to deal with severe winter.”

A cyclist heads down a snow-covered hill in the Scottish Borders (PA)

While the rail networks were said to be coping well with the conditions a
serious crash involving at least ten vehicles caused massive delays on the
M4 across the Berkshire Downs, which was blanketed by snow and freezing rain
this morning.

The London-bound carriageway between Membury Services near Lambourn and
junction 14 is the same stretch which saw Britain’s worst-ever motorway
tragedy in March 1991, when ten people died and dozens were injured in a
51-vehicle pile-up in dense fog which saw many of the cars, lorries and
coaches burnt out in a fireball.

Four lorries were also stuck fast and unable to gain traction in snow on a
hill in the Cotswolds, blocking the busy A44 near Bourton-on-the-Hill.

A British Airways plane is de-iced at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport
(PA)

The cold snap could be bad news for those already struggling to pay their
energy bills which have more than doubled since 2004 to more than £1,300 a
year per household, largely due to rising gas prices.

Save the Children’s head of UK policy, Chris Wellings, said: “The poorest
families will struggle to cope with this cold snap. Parents on low incomes
are already struggling to afford even basic essentials such as warm winter
clothing and a hot meal every day for their children as living costs
continue to rise.

“As temperatures plummet many simply don’t have the money to heat their
homes. The Government must ensure that the poorest families can afford to
keep warm.”

Heathrow Airport could face severe disruption and Leeds Bradford Airport
warned this morning that severe weather may cause disruption to its flight
schedule.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the worst of the weather will be in the east of the
country with further flurries of snow expected. Temperatures could fall to
-9C in remote rural areas.

Online retailer Amazon said sales of sledges had surged by 600 per cent, and
customers were also investing in snow shovels.

But the cold temperatures was not bad news for everyone as four rescued Arctic
wolves were settling in on a Lincolnshire farm after they were saved from a
fighting pack in Wuppertal Zoo in Germany.

The eight-month-old Hudson Bay Wolves, which can survive temperatures of minus
20, are making themselves at home at Woodside Wildlife and Falconry Park, in
Newball, near Langworth, Linconshire.

Owner Neil Mumby said “This endangered species originates from Canada and
the wolves have a stunningly beautiful white coat to keep out the Arctic
winter, so Lincolnshire will be no problem – even in this weather.”

Britain wakes up to snow with warnings of more to come – Telegraph.co.uk
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