Warning of ‘extreme freeze’ as cold spell bites

Mike Bedigan

Britons have been warned of an “extreme freeze” overnight as the Met Office said temperatures could plunge even further than Tuesday’s 10-year low.

Temperatures fell to minus 17.1C in the Scottish Highlands, the coldest recorded since January 2010, when the mercury dropped to minus 22.3C.

The Met Office said wide areas of Scotland were likely to get down into double figures and sub-zero temperatures were expected across the whole of the UK overnight on Wednesday.

Weather warnings February 11-12 2021.
(PA Graphics)

Cities such as Manchester and Carlisle may drop to minus 4C, and York is expected to see lows of minus 6C.

The forecast prompted responses from local councils in England, with residents warned to take “extra care” while the cold snap lasts.

Grahame Madge, a spokesman for the Met Office, said: “We’re going to see colder temperatures tonight, whether we get down below (minus 22.3C) I doubt, but it will probably be a bit colder than Tuesday night,” he said.

“The cold will begin to ebb away but it will be slow and quite erratic and there are still wintry hazards in the forecast.

“We’ve got potential for some more snow, heavy rain and also freezing rain.”

Essex County Council warned drivers that roads surface temperatures could reach minus 10C or lower.

A spokesperson for Essex Highways said: “We are warning drivers to go out tonight between 8pm and 8am only if it is absolutely vital.

“Essex Highways is still gritting roads… but it has a slower effect at these extreme temperatures.

“Warmer temperatures are predicted next week but we want all drivers in Essex to be safe and aware of the special circumstances predicted for tonight.”

A man pushes his trolley through Woodbridge in Suffolk
A man pushes his trolley through Woodbridge in Suffolk (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mr Madge said next week would bring a “change of emphasis” from the east of England, where amber warnings were previously in place over the weekend.

“By Monday we are expecting that warm air to make its presence felt across the UK but up until then I think it’s fair to say to describe it as erratic as successive fronts try and barge the cold out of the way,” he said.

Coldest UK February temperatures
(PA Graphics)

He added that Storm Darcy, which caused much disruption last week, has now “definitely” moved on.

The NHS said that despite tough conditions many vaccination centres had remained open, and any missed appointments would be rescheduled.

Several councils in England, including Rugby Borough Council and Southwark Council, in London, were forced to briefly suspend waste collection services due to the weather conditions.

Thurrock Council, in Essex, said more than 100 workers, mostly from street cleaning and waste collection teams, were diverted from regular duties to help clear snow from footpaths and routes to medical centres.

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