Britain braced for freezing weather

A Highways Agency worker loads gritting salt as weather forecasters predict snow across parts of the country

A digger driver shifts road salt at a depot in Cambridgeshire

First published in National News © by

Weather warnings are in place across Britain this weekend, with freezing temperatures, sleet and snow set to hit parts of the country.

Up to 8cm of snow is predicted to settle over central and eastern England Sunday night, with light snow already falling over high ground in Scotland.

Temperatures will plummet to minus 6C this weekend, with parts of north Wales, north-east England and Scotland among the chilliest spots.

The Met Office has issued a "yellow" warning of severe weather for Wales, south and west England, north England and the east of Scotland as the snow and ice hits the country. It has issued a snow warning for the whole country on Monday.

Met Office spokesman Alexa Jones predicted outbreaks of rain and sleet with some snow throughout on Saturday, which may linger in parts of southern England.

A spokesman for MeteoGroup, the Press Association's weather division, said temperatures were likely to remain low, reaching a minimum of minus 4C.

He said: "There will be some rain, sleet and light snow falling across parts of the UK today, but the heavier snow will come overnight on Sunday. The snow is likely to cause disruption with around 2-5cm expected to fall, mainly in central and eastern parts of England but also inland across Scotland. Some areas may get up to 8cm. Other areas of the country will see sleet and snow but temperatures are likely to be very cold across the board." Temperatures have been mild so far this year and were as high as 9C in Cornwall on Friday.

Forecasters said the cold snap was likely to bring widespread ice as the AA warned that 75% of drivers were not prepared for conditions on the roads. Around three-quarters of motorists are ill-prepared for potentially hazardous conditions, according to a new Populus survey of more than 20,000 adults, the organisation said.

The Highways Agency said it is "well prepared" for winter conditions. 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."

Tesco said its sales of shovels are up more than five times last week's levels and expects them to increase even further in the coming days. Sales of cold weather car products such as windscreen wash with anti-freeze and ice scrapers are already 25% higher than last week. "It looks like many people are also looking forward to the lighter side of the snowfall. Tesco Direct has experienced a sudden surge in online interest in products including snow sledges, snow shoes and even a snowball blaster," a spokesman said.

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