UK weather: travel warnings issued amid snow, sleet and rain

Warnings of widespread travel disruption and tricky driving conditions have been made as snow, sleet and rain on Thursday swept across large parts of UK.

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Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The warnings came as a big chill enveloped all four nations with a temperature of -8C recorded on Thursday morning in the village of Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, making it the coldest night of the year in England of the winter so far, the Met Office said.


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Richard Miles, a Met Office spokesperson, said wintry snow showers were possible everywhere from mid-Wales upwards, with northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland bearing the brunt.

Blustery conditions will make the temperatures feel colder for many throughout the day and night as air from the Canadian Arctic sweeps across the UK, he said.

Four Met Office yellow warnings for the west of Northern Ireland, northern England and much of Scotland were in place on Thursday, all of them cautioning about snow, sleet, ice and difficult travel conditions which are likely to continue into Friday morning.

The alerts also include warnings of thundersnow in Scotland, a relatively uncommon phenomenon which perhaps sounds more alarming than it is. “It is just thunder when it’s snowing,” said Miles.

“It happens for the same reason that thunder and lightning happens in the summer, it’s to do with the temperature gradient. It is the same mechanisms but it sounds and looks slightly different in snowy conditions.”

Miles said there was also a small risk of power cuts or mobile phone coverage issues, because of the weather conditions.

The weather was haffecting some ferry services in Scotland, including one of the busiest routes, between Ardrossan in north Ayrshire and Brodick on the Isle of Arran. They were cancelled on Thursday and are expected to resume at 8.20am on Friday.

Sailings to the islands of Coll, Tiree, Iona and to Armadale on Skye were also cancelled due to strong winds and swell conditions.

Traffic Scotland tweeted tips to stay safe for drivers.

The wintry conditions follow an unseasonably mild new year, with record temperatures as high as 16.5C in Bala, Wales, on New Year’s Eve.

“We are back to what you would expect in the winter,” said Miles. “It is more like average temperatures.”

The yellow warnings are in place until late morning on Friday with the weekend weather across the UK expected to be unsettled and changeable.

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