Snow falls as Britain freezes over

Hillingdon Times: Snow has fallen across parts of the country, with more predicted over the weekend Snow has fallen across parts of the country, with more predicted over the weekend

Britons awoke to a smattering of snow on Saturday morning, as communities in the northern part of England and Scotland ushered in December with a festive dusting of the white stuff.

Pockets of the North West and North East reported a few millimetres of snowfall overnight, as temperatures struggled to peak above freezing in many places, and forecasters say further bursts of sleet and snow are expected this weekend, as Britain braces itself for widespread overnight frosts.

MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said "just a few millimetres" fell on Friday night, but said: "There's a chance we'll see more snow before the weekend's out."

The white start to the month was enough to prompt record numbers placing bets on snowfall for Christmas Day. According to bookmakers Ladbrokes, more money has been staked on a white Christmas than by any other December 1 in its history.

Friday night's snowfall came after 10 days of flooding misery in the UK, where much of south-west England, the Midlands and north Wales were hit by heavy rainfall and gusty winds.

Three people died, hundreds were evacuated from their homes, and thousands of motorists were left stranded as roads were smothered by surging flood water. At its peak last weekend, four severe flood warnings were put in place, indicating an immediate risk to life due to serious flooding.

Around 150 alerts were in place on Saturday morning, with nearly 20 flood warnings - where the risk of flooding is expected - in the south-east of England and the Midlands. However, that number dropped to 120 by lunchtime, and an agency spokeswoman said there was no immediate risk of further flooding as a direct result of the overnight snowfall.

MeteoGroup spokesman Brendan Jones said the country had slipped below freezing in places, adding: "There is a northerly wind blowing across which is why it is so cold, close to minus 5C in some areas. It will stay cold for most of next week with a chance of more frost, ice and snow in some areas."

Light snowfall was reported in Cumbria, Teesside and County Durham, while an inch has covered the Pennines and the Southern Uplands. The Met Office issued a low-level warning of severe weather, affecting much of the UK for the morning.

It said: "Due to the recent wet weather there is an increased risk of icy patches, even on roads that have been treated with salt, where water run off/seepage may wash off any earlier salt treatment. The public should be aware of the risk of ice on roads and pavements."

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