The big freeze is expected to engulf the whole of Britain with forecasters predicting snowfall and subzero temperatures in almost every corner of the country.
Freezing Arctic conditions that have paralysed much of Scotland and the North East spread to the Midlands bringing up to two inches of snow during the early hours and are expected to reach parts of Wales, the South East and London later on Tuesday.
Severe weather warnings of heavy snowfall and widespread road ice have been issued across almost every part of the UK, with further travel chaos expected to heap misery on commuters.
It was reported that up to four inches (10cm) of snow fell in the north of England on Monday night and during the early hours of Tuesday morning, with North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Merseyside all experiencing heavy and persistent flurries. Birmingham and parts of Gloucestershire and Sussex also experienced fresh falls as the band of wintry snow headed south.
Gemma Plumb, forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “Almost everywhere in the UK will reach minus temperatures and have some sleet or snow showers today. There will be heavy snow showers in the South East across Kent, Hampshire, Essex and London, with five to eight cm falling on higher ground.”
Nearly 100 commuters travelling from central London to Ashford in Kent were stranded on a SouthEastern train for more than two hours with no power after the tracks froze in the subzero temperatures on Monday night. The 11.07pm service from London Victoria fell victim to the icy weather between Borough Green and West Malling before being towed to safety by another train.
Temperatures reached low of minus 13C in Inverness on Tuesday morning, with forecasters predicting that daytime temperatures would struggle to get past zero due to the bitter wind chill. Edinburgh Airport remained closed due to heavy snow on Tuesday morning and other airports also faced disruption with a number of flight cancellations and delays.
Many schools in Scotland, the North East and Cornwall were also forced to close and expected to remain shut. All schools in Dundee, West Lothian and Shetland were shut on Monday while in York and North Yorkshire, around 50 schools closed their doors. In Cornwall, 44 schools were shut because of the treacherous weather conditions.
The AA said Monday was one of its busiest on record after it was called to more than 20,000 breakdowns, but Tuesday could rival it. A spokesman said: “The fact we’re only in the end of November and we’ve had what will turn out to be one of our top busiest days ever is pretty exceptional. No cars like these conditions and unless you do regular journeys of decent length in your car, it doesn’t really give your battery much time to re-charge.”
Forecasters warned the severe conditions could last for the rest of the week, with rain, sleet and snow.