UK’s cold snap continues after second night of record low temperatures
By Luke O'Reilly, PA
The UK is set for further snow and ice after the record for the coldest night of the year so far was broken for the second night in a row.
The Met Office has extended a yellow warning for snow and ice covering northern Scotland and north east England until noon on Friday.
Met Office spokesperson Becky White said that the areas covered by the warning could see up to 10cms of fresh snow on higher ground.
“We could see a good few new centimetres of snow accumulation,” she said.
“We could see around 1-4cms at lower levels and 5-10cm on higher ground across the Highlands.”
Snow and ice warnings are also in place in the South West from 6pm on Tuesday until 10am Wednesday.
“There will be a risk of ice across the country over the next few days, but particularly tonight,” she said.
“There is a band of rain moving in from the South West, but it may turn into snow as it reaches land.”
She added that the South West could see 1-2cm of snow at lower levels, and 1-10cms of snow at higher ground such as Dartmoor and Exmoor.
An ice warning is in place in East England from 3pm on Tuesday until noon Wednesday.
The national forecaster has also added a yellow ice warning in northern parts of Northern Ireland, including Belfast and Londonderry from noon Tuesday until noon Wednesday.
Braemer, in Aberdeenshire, was the coldest place in the UK on Tuesday night, recording a low of minus 17.3C, breaking Monday’s record of minus 15.7C.
The next coldest temperature on Tuesday night was also recorded in Aberdeenshire, at minus 14.9C in Balmoral.
Scores of schools across the country have been forced to close for a second day due to the cold weather.
Councils from Aberdeenshire to Cambridgeshire reported school closures, for reasons including heating failure, burst pipes and snow and ice.
The RAC experienced its biggest day for breakdowns on record, with around 12,000 drivers needing help.
RAC Breakdown’s Rod Dennis said: “Yesterday was officially our busiest day for breakdowns on record, with around 12,000 drivers needing help, the equivalent of eight every minute of the day. Even our busiest day during the infamous Beast from the East in 2018 didn’t see as many people breaking down.”
“We believe two key ingredients have combined to create the worst-ever winter breakdown cocktail – a sustained period of cold weather with an absence of widespread snow that would otherwise keep people indoors, and a big rise in the number of drivers who can’t afford to maintain their vehicles as well as they’d like to due to the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.”
“Today remains an incredibly demanding day for our patrols, with the rail strikes likely to force yet more people onto the roads.”
Travel disruption also continued on Tuesday, with icy roads making conditions difficult.
The Met Office said there will be icy stretches on untreated roads, pavements, and cycle paths due to the thawing of snow left over from Monday.
Northern Ireland is experiencing freezing fog.
Meanwhile, a boy is fighting for his life after falling into an icy lake in Solihull, West Midlands, on Sunday.
Three other boys aged eight, 10 and 11 died after falling into the lake during the same incident.
A report from the Local Government Association (LGA) published last week found that nearly two thirds of councils in England are worried they can’t recruit enough HGV drivers to run their gritting lorries this winter.
“As this survey shows, councils along with many other organisations have had continued difficulties in recruiting new HGV drivers,” a spokesperson for the LGA said.
“As well as this, fast inflating HGV driver salaries in the private sector exacerbates issues in the public sector, with the rises creating a retention as well as a recruitment problem for councils and their contractors.”
“To ensure gritting lorries can get out to treat roads and pavements this winter, councils have been retraining and redeploying existing staff as well as making use of short-term agency workers.”
Darren Clark, severe weather resilience manager at National Highways, said they had sent out the appropriate number of gritters to deal with the roads on Monday.
“We started the autumn and winter season with around 280,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled at our depots and yesterday we used 12,000 tonnes across our network in view of the current weather conditions. We can call upon 530 gritters in our fleet and we sent out the appropriate number to treat the roads in accordance with the conditions in different areas of our network.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper defended the response of the highways authorities to the cold snap, after motorists were left stranded on the M25.
He said that staff at National Highways had worked “incredibly hard” to try and keep the roads moving.
The travel disruption was followed on Tuesday by the first of a wave of train strikes.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are pressing ahead with two 48-hour strikes at Network Rail, and 14 train companies, from Tuesday and Friday.
Trains are only running from 7.30am to 6.30pm on this week’s strike days, although many parts of the country will have no services, including most of Scotland and Wales.
The strike has also caused disruption across the London Underground, with the Bakerloo line part suspended between Harrow & Wealdstone to Queens Park due to the rail strike.