UK weather: Met Office issues amber snow warning

Commuters face potential delays until the end of the week, while those in rural communities were warned they could be cut off by the snow

Parts of England could see blizzard conditions this week, as the Met Office issued a two-day heavy snow warning on Wednesday.

Up to 40cm of snow could fall in some areas, with strong winds and low temperatures expected to further contribute to the travel chaos that has plagued the UK amid adverse weather conditions.

Met Office chief meteorologist, Matthew Lehnert, said: “The boundary between milder and colder air will slowly move north through Wednesday and overnight, moving the chances of snow further north with it.

“Snow will have settled quite widely in central parts of the UK as we move into Thursday morning leaving tricky conditions for the morning travel period. It will be another very cold night, especially under clear skies in Scotland where temperatures could get down to -15C again tonight.

"An Amber warning for snow has been issued for the high ground running north in the centre of northern England as snow redevelops through the course of Thursday and persist until early Friday. Here we could see up to 40cm of snow accompanied by strong winds causing blizzard conditions."

The warning is in place from 3pm on Thursday to midnight Friday and comes after flurries of snowfall across the country saw flights grounded, traffic come to a halt, and massive delays hit commuter trains on Wednesday.

Bristol Airport grounded all flights this morning, thanks to the adverse weather conditions, while London's Gatwick Airport announced a series of flight delays and some cancellations.

Drivers were warned to be cautious on the roads and travel with supplies amid the adverse weather conditions, in the event they are stranded in the snow.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “Even a little snow on the roads has the potential to make them treacherous for drivers, so we’re advising everyone to proceed extremely cautiously over the next few days. Being gentle on the accelerator and brake is vital to lessen the chances of skidding.

"It’s also essential drivers go out prepared for the conditions by packing warm clothes and blankets, food and drink and a portable battery charger (power bank) so their mobiles don’t let them down even if their vehicles do.

“Anyone who isn’t confident with winter driving might want to postpone their journeys until temperatures increase.”

Temperatures plummeted overnight Tuesday, dropping to -15.2C (4.6F) in Kinbrace in the Highlands - the country's coldest night since 2010.

The Arctic blast also saw commuters facing down long delays, with some train services suspended altogether, and the Met Office warning that the disruption caused by the snow and ice could continue into Thursday.

“Snow could lead to some travel disruption, with a chance some rural communities in the north could be cut off," the Met Office said.

“The focus for the snow moves to southern England and South Wales tomorrow and some may wake up to a few centimetres of snow, with the south coast and far southwest likely to see a mix of rain and sleet. Further snow and hail showers are also expected along northern coasts, especially in northern Scotland.

A jogger takes an early morning run in the snow at the Long Walk at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, Wednesday March 8, 2023. Parts of the UK wake up to snow and a yellow weather warning. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
A jogger takes an early morning run in the snow at the Long Walk at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, Wednesday March 8, 2023. Parts of the UK wake up to snow and a yellow weather warning. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

“During the afternoon, a further spell of sleet and snow is likely to develop across southern England and South Wales which could cause travel disruption into the evening. The impact of lying snow and ice on untreated surfaces may have an impact on Thursday morning travel.”

National Rail said trains would be affected until Friday, with Southeastern services currently suffering the worst delays, although ice and snow have also hit the Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern networks.

On the roads, drivers were told to postpone any non-essential journeys, while the snowy showers saw the A3 in Surrey closed after lorries became stuck in heavy snow, and a series of road closures in Somerset, as well as impassable roads in rural areas.

The Met Office said some rural communities could be cut off by poor weather conditions, as well as issuing a warning over potential power cuts.

The freezing weather prompted the UK Health Security Agency to issue a level 3 cold weather alert for the whole of England.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UK Health Security Agency, said: "During periods like this, it is important to check in on family, friends and relatives who may be more vulnerable to the cold weather, as it can have a serious impact on health.

"If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it is important to try and heat your home to at least 18°C if you can.’"