SNOW and ice warnings cover much of the UK today amid bitterly cold temperatures.
The chilly snap is bringing the white stuff to southern England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Snow blankets the village of Hope in Flintshire, north-east Wales[/caption]
Yellow warnings for snow and ice cover much of the UK[/caption]
It has sparked fears of widespread travel delays, with railways, roads and runways impacted.
Power cuts are also likely in the worst affected areas, where some rural communities could be completely cut off.
Forecasters expect as much as 8in of snow to fall over higher ground during the “blizzard conditions”.
Anyone travelling today should take extra care and check journey times and routes in advance.
Temperatures plunged to a numbing -9.8C in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday – the coldest morning of the year so far.
Last night was only a fraction warmer at -5C at Yeovilton, Somerset, according to the latest weather maps.
Loch Glascarnoch in the Scottish Highlands got a 12.5in dumping of snow yesterday, while nearby Altnaharra saw more than 4in.
The wintry conditions have pushed the Met Office to issue six separate yellow warnings for snow and ice.
These cover most of the UK are in force until midday at the latest.
“Heavy” snow and hail showers will likely bring parts of Britain to a halt, forecasters warn.
Vehicles and passengers could become stranded, public transport may be delayed or cancelled, and some road surfaces will be dangerous during the “blustery” and “often wintry” showers.
Power cuts might also occur and mobile phone coverage may be reduced, only adding to the travel chaos.
The Met Office has warned temperatures could stay well below average into next week as the wintry spell continues.
Further weather warnings for snow and ice are likely to be issued for tonight.
It comes after dozens of people were injured following a crash involving a double-decker bus in “treacherous” freezing conditions in Somerset.
Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said: “If you’re planning to make a journey, it’s worth leaving extra time for your journey, both to defrost your car and because the roads will be more slippery.
“There will be travel disruption, especially where there is snow.”
He added that most warnings will expire at lunchtime today, but further alerts are expected to come.
“This is a cold spell lasting around five to seven days so I think by the weekend if you’re living in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you will feel it getting a bit milder – but it will remain cold in England and Wales,” he continued.
“It may well take until the early part of next week for temperatures to return to normal across England and Wales.”
Several police forces and fire services have pleaded with motorists not to travel unless “absolutely essential”.
Avon and Somerset Police warned of “extremely icy and dangerous” conditions after it said it had received more than 100 reports of road-related incidents in five hours.
And Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service yesterday said it had seen reports that vehicles had become stuck in snow on the A39 at Trispen and A391 at Bugle.
There will be travel disruption, especially where there is snow.
It tweeted: “Be careful if you’re out and about today – snow has fallen in some areas and roads are likely to be icy.
“In built up areas, pedestrians may take to the roads if pavements are dangerous.”
Devon and Cornwall Police also urged drivers to exercise caution as heavy snow showers sweep across the two counties.
Essex Police echoed the warning after being called to “a number of collisions” on January 17.
The RAC said there had been a “huge spike” in breakdowns on Tuesday due to icy conditions.
A spokesperson said: “Even though the weather is largely dry in most places, today is proving far busier than yesterday, which is unusual as Monday is generally the biggest day for breakdowns.
“Flat batteries are the top reason for drivers calling us out as cars with older ones finally give up the ghost in the cold.
“Ice, and in some areas snow, are the biggest risks for drivers this week – particularly on stretches of road that haven’t been treated.
“It’s vital everyone slows down and gives themselves time to plenty of time to brake and react in the event something unexpected happens.”
The County Councils Network, which represents 36 county and unitary district councils in England, said more than 2,000 warm spaces remain open as temperatures drop and people look for somewhere to keep warm amid the cost-of-living crisis.