'Beast from the East' transforms the British landscape
A level three cold weather alert (the second-highest) has been issued by forecasters for the first time this winter, along with warnings of severe travel disruption. The Met Office is warning of icy roads, and the AA has reported a surge in flat batteries: call-outs are coming in at a rate of 1,700 an hour.
The icy snap, dubbed "The Beast from the East" is predicted to sweep across the UK, blanketing swathes of the country in snow.
Tom Tobler, a forecaster with MetoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Most places will see temperatures of no more than 1C or 2C today - and a few won't get above zero."
Snow is due to move from north-west to the south-east. "There could be several centimetres in much of the country, except for some western areas, where it will turn more readily to rain," he said.
The Met Office has confirmed that over the past few days we have seen the coldest spell of the winter so far - and it looks set to continue, with more snow showers expected along parts of the eastern coastline today and tomorrow.
Over the weekend, an Atlantic front will move in from the west. Paul Gunderson, Deputy Chief Forecaster at the Met Office said: "It's a finely balanced situation, so there is some uncertainty about which areas will see the most significant snowfall, but at the moment the risk is highest in central and eastern areas, where we could see up to 5-10cm of snow."
And the Beast from the East is showing no signs of let up. Countries from Italy to the Ukraine and Romania (pictured above left) have struggled to cope with temperatures that plunged to record lows in some places. and many tourism hotspots are also being affected: in Prague, temperatures reached -17C, while in Paris they hit -8C.
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