Big UK freeze: more snow, ice

2010-01-04 21:03

London - The big freeze will tighten its grip overnight when snow showers will sweep south, bringing more icy weather and treacherous driving conditions, forecasters said on Monday.

The Met Office said a band of snow is heading towards London from northern Scotland, with temperatures falling to about minus 5°C in most places overnight and barely rising above zero on Tuesday.

"Everywhere will get some snow in the next 24 hours," said forecaster Helen Chivers. "Under clear skies, everything cools down very quickly, so there will be widespread ice overnight."

Temperatures in London will hover around zero on Tuesday, compared to the average for the time of year of about 8°C.

After several weeks of freezing weather, there is no let up in sight, she added. Icy weather from the east will replace the current northerly blast later this week.

"It will last certainly until the middle of the month," Chivers added.

Severe weather

Severe weather warnings were issued for all of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Forecasters warned motorists to take extra care on icy roads.

The Scottish government said councils will have enough salt and grit to spread on icy roads, despite media reports that supplies were running out in some areas.

Flat batteries contributed to a big rise in calls to the AA from stranded drivers. The motoring organisation said it expected more than 20 000 call-outs by the end of Monday.

On the rail network, more than three-quarters of trains were were running on time.

"We will have de-icer trains working overnight and we will fit snow ploughs on the front of trains if there is heavy snow," a Network Rail spokesman said. "If necessary we will be out with shovels."

The cold weather forced some schools in northern England to close on Monday, giving children an extra day off.

In the remote Scottish Highlands, one woman was still waiting to enjoy her Christmas lunch after she became stranded during a trip to the shops to buy a turkey.

The heavy snow blocked the way to her house on Cape Wrath, Sutherland, northwest Scotland, and she was forced to stay with friends 11 miles away, media reports said.

"I think it will be a few days yet," she was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph. "It might be Burns Night (January 25) before I get to eat it."