UK could see coldest night in almost a decade as big freeze continues

The big freeze will continue to grip much of Britain, with the mercury poised to drop so low the UK could see its coldest night in almost a decade.

But the plummeting temperatures will be short lived, with milder air expected to push its way across the country from Sunday, the Met Office said.

Thick blankets of snow caused widespread disruption and treacherous conditions across vast swathes of southern Britain on Thursday and Friday.

With 19cm recorded in some parts, motorists were stranded in their vehicles, hundreds of schools were closed, and travellers were hit by long delays and cancelled flights.

The heavy snowfall even caused some trees and branches in Kent to collapse and snap under the weight – cascading into road and over pavements.

Forecaster Simon Partridge told the Press Association that the snow which has been lying on the ground, and has since partially melted, will refreeze as the temperature drops, causing icy conditions.

“Tonight is a pretty dry night, dry with a lot of clear spells which means it is going to be a very cold night as well,” he said.

“The showers (of sleet, rain and snow) we have got across East Anglia at the moment will drift offshore overnight.”

Mr Partridge said there is the potential for the mercury to drop as low as minus 10C in southern England, with a potential of minus 16C in eastern Scotland.

“If that happens it would make it the coldest night since 2010,” he said.

“But there is cloud coming from the West overnight over Scotland, so if it gets in fast enough it might just stop it getting quite that low.”

He said average overnight temperatures in February are around 1-2C for southern England, with Scotland usually hovering around minus 3C.

A car stands abandoned as workmen clear trees on Walderslade Woods Road, in Walderslade, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“We are a good 10C below where we should be in some places,” he said of Saturday night’s potential temperatures.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for ice across much of the South and East Anglia, which is in place until 11am on Sunday.

It warns of “icy stretches on many untreated road, pavements and cycle paths”, and said there is an increased likelihood of accidents and injuries.

The cloud moving in from the West over Scotland during Saturday night into Sunday will usher in rain and some hill snow, Mr Partridge said.

“With it, it brings in some milder air so we get a real big temperature contrast tomorrow,” he said.

Mr Partridge said 3C is expected in North East Scotland during Sunday, with 10C likely in the South West of England.

“That is the beginning of milder air pushing its way in across the UK next week,” he said, stating temperatures will be “nearer normal”.

“As a result it will be more unsettled, so windier and wetter weather through the week, so back to our normal winter.”

- Press Association

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