Temperatures are expected to plunge to sub-zero this weekend with lows of -7C in some areas, prompting emergency homeless shelters to be opened across the country.
Public Health England has issued a cold weather alert between Sunday and Tuesday, and advised vulnerable people especially “older people and those with heart and lung problems” to stay warm.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill told The Independent this weekend has the “perfect ingredients” for very cold nights.
“We have high pressure, which makes the daytime fine and sunny, but then clear skies and wind at night will see temperatures drop,” he said.
“Saturday night will be the coldest night and prone spots such as Benson, Oxfordshire, will likely see the lowest temperatures of -7C – but it will be a widely cold and frosty night with quite harsh frost for most of the UK.”
The Met Office said the high pressure could come close to the UK record of 1053.6 hectopascals, set in Aberdeen in 1902, by early on Monday morning. It has not exceeded 1050 since 1957.
TV platforms Freeview and Youview have warned that high pressure can affect the signal, possibly leading to a loss of some channels.
The cold weather warning covers the West Midlands, East Midlands, the east of England, southeast England and southwest England from 6pm on Sunday 19 January to 6pm on Tuesday 21 January.
Public Health England scientist Dr Owen Landeg said: “Keep an eye out for those who may need help staying warm, ensure they wear lots of layers and have everything they need.
“Below 18 degrees, changes to the body means that the risk of strokes, heart attacks and chest infections increase so heating homes to this temperature is particularly important to stay well.”
The mayor of London announced the opening of emergency cold weather shelters across the capital for the first time this year.
London: it’s freezing outside – and temperatures are set to drop to zero this weekend.
We've opened emergency shelters across our city to #HelpLondonsHomeless.
If you see someone who needs help - @Tell_StreetLink. pic.twitter.com/tiYaOl0Epf— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan)January 17, 2020
Sadiq Khan said in a statement on Friday: “This weekend’s freezing temperatures put some of our most vulnerable Londoners at risk.
“That’s why I’m working with councils and charities across London to make sure emergency shelters are open and available to everyone who needs them.
“This is just one of the many initiatives being undertaken by City Hall to help London’s homeless people but it’s clear more needs to be done. Ministers must now wake up to this issue with a proper plan of action rather than the empty promises of the last decade.”
StreetLink is a service that allows people to make alerts via website, app or phone, which are then sent to local outreach teams to find and help rough sleepers.
The Met Office said nights will become slightly milder by midweek but conditions would remain frosty.