BRITAIN was braced for the fiercest weather of the winter last night as heavy snow was expected for much of the country.
With temperatures plunging to record lows, the Met Office issued severe weather warnings over southern and eastern England.
Wet weather from the south was expected to collide with cold air — which fell to a seven-year low of minus 14.4C in Scotland and minus 10.5C in England — dumping a ‘snowbomb’ of up to 3ins over large areas of the south.
In south Wales the driver of a gritter truck had a lucky escape after it overturned on an icy road in Caerphilly, which had already been gritted four times in the previous 24 hours. Newquay Airport in Cornwall was closed briefly by snow yesterday, and around 100 vehicles became stuck on nearby Bodmin Moor as drifts covered the A30.
Southeastern Trains switched to its emergency winter timetable after 21 services were affected yesterday.
In Cambridgeshire, Peterborough crown court was forced to close after a heating breakdown left the cells too cold for prisoners.
‘As the cells were much colder than the rest of the building, custody hearings have been moved to a different venue while they warm up,’ a spokesman for the Courts Service tweeted.
Dorset county council tweeted that school buses were cancelled today but individual schools would decide whether to open or close.
The heaviest snow was expected in an area between Plymouth, Portsmouth and the Welsh valleys where an amber weather warning was in force last night.
‘We’re looking at a very high chance of disruption across the south-west as a band of heavy snow works in,’ said BBC forecaster Chris Fawkes. Public Health England asked people to look out for those at risk from the cold snap.
■ INSTEAD of counting sheep at bedtime, people are being asked to tot up the number of stars over the next three weeks to gauge light pollution. Town and country volunteers are wanted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England to report on what they can see in the Orion constellation. Organisers will use the results to map how pollution affects views. For full details see the CPRE website.