Severe weather warnings for almost all of the UK are in place, with heavy snow, widespread icy roads and bitter temperatures forecast.
Some 10ins (25cm) of snow is expected to fall over higher ground, while parts of the Midlands and London will not escape a dusting. Overnight temperatures across the UK plunged well below zero again, after a day when much of the country was badly disrupted by the earliest widespread snow for 17 years.
The Met Office said London and the South East, the South West, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and the north east of England face widespread icy roads. The North East, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands and the South West were also braced for heavy snow and Wales and Northern Ireland can expect icy roads while Scotland is in line for more heavy snow and drifts thanks to a biting wind.
Forecasters said the cold snap is set to tighten its grip, blanketing swathes of the country in white by the middle of next week.
Aisling Creevey, of MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “It’s definitely staying cold and going into next week, we could see a lot more snow. There is a low pressure system across the country and if it moves the way it is looking to at the moment, it’s going to be very windy, very snowy and really bitter.”
Temperatures will barely rise above freezing on Saturday, with the South West set to be the warmest at around 3C.
On Friday, Scotland and the north east of England once again bore the brunt of the bad weather – with dumps of up to 30cm recorded in the Highlands and North Yorkshire. But snow was also drifting across Wales and the South West and even low-lying parts of the UK saw freezing temperatures, the Met Office said.
The AA said it was called out to 16,000 breakdowns by the end of the day, with 1,220 calls coming in every hour at the busiest time. Wales and the North East were the worst-hit for breakdowns.
The unusual weather has been caused by high pressure over Greenland and low pressure in the Baltics, forcing cold winds from the north east across Europe.
The RSPCA was also bracing itself for a busy period. The charity has urged pet-owners to keep dogs away from lakes or ponds which may have iced over and avoid shutting cats out of the house for long periods.