Forecasters Warn Of Snowdrifts 40cm Deep
Snow has begun to fall in many areas of the UK amid warnings of "severe" weather and a predicted 40cm (16in) of snow in the next 24 hours.
Exceptionally heavy snow - of 30cm to 40cm - is being forecast for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire.
A Met Office "flash warning" said a "period of exceptionally heavy snowfall is expected with accumulations of 15-30cm and perhaps in excess of 40cm".
Hampshire is already seeing disruption on the roads as the county is blanketed in snow.
In parts of Manchester and Wales unofficial snow depths of 15cm have already been reported.
Braunton in Devon has seen 8cm of snow so far, Peterhead in Aberdeenshire 5cm, Radcliffe in Manchester 15cm and Coopers Hill, Brockworth in Gloucestershire 11cm.
The forecast warns that there could be "widespread disruption" to the transport network, and power supplies could be affected.
And worse is to follow, with the snow overnight expected to make commuters' morning journeys extremely hazardous.
Road safety groups are expected to tackle twice as many breakdowns as usual for this period and have advised travellers to prepare for potential delays.
AA spokesman Luke Bodset told Sky News Online businesses could help to lessen disruptions for their workers.
"There is plenty of warning that this snow is coming," he said.
"Employers are in a position to advise their staff as to what is reasonably expected.
"Companies should have contingency plans, and plan meetings or deliveries accordingly."
The Highways Agency said their gritting teams were on standby but would definitely return to action later on the M25 and beyond.
Transport For London confirmed its 38 gritters, supported by a fleet of quad bikes, will work with London boroughs across the capital.
A spokesperson confirmed de-icing trains would run on the tube network to limit the anticipated disruptions to the morning commute.
The RAC has told road users to check weather reports and prepare for delays in advance of travel.
A spokesperson advised commuters to consider different ways of getting home, or - if possible - to make alternative arrangements and avoid overnight travel altogether.
Sky News weather presenter Lucy Verasamy said: "London can expect snowfall tonight into tomorrow morning, but it's worse in the rest of the South.
"Temperatures across the region will drop as low as -4c and -5c, and as low as -3c in the capital."
Travellers have already faced major disruption after heavy snow forced airports in Manchester and Liverpool to shut and dozens of flights were delayed or cancelled.
Flights were delayed at Gatwick, Glasgow, Aberdeen Newcastle, Durham Tees Valley, Leeds Bradford International, Belfast and Derry airports.
Operations have been temporarily suspended at Southampton Airport while snow is cleared from the runway.
Many rail services in Scotland were disrupted, while there have been delays and cancellations to trains in eastern England.
On the roads, conditions were particularly bad in Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Northumberland and Scotland.
A lorry driver was killed in a crash on the M60 near Bredbury in Greater Manchester.
Bus services in Sheffield and Barnsley stopped temporarily and in Leeds, rubbish collection services were suspended.
Extreme weather warnings for Dorset and Slough have been downgraded.
Hundreds of schools nationwide were closed and a large-scale search undertaken for a North Yorkshire man who went missing on Sunday morning.
A team of eight police officers, 15 from RAF Mountain Rescue and 20 volunteers from the village of Wath, near Ripon, have been scouring the area for Ian Simpkin, 36.
Football bosses postponed Blackburn's Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Aston Villa, and Manchester City's clash with Manchester United.
The filming of TV soap Coronation Street grounded to a halt in Manchester, as did that on the Emmerdale set based in Leeds.
There have also been reports of shoppers panic buying, with supermarkets seeing increased sales in Wellington boots, take-away food and thermal underwear.
Warnings as snow chaos heads south
The Met Office issued emergency weather warnings after Arctic conditions crippled large parts of the country. Skip related content
Forecasters said up to 40cm (16in) of snow could fall in some areas as the worst of the cold snap switches from the north to the south.
Heavy snow forced the closure of schools, roads and airports around the country. Police warned of hazardous driving conditions and the Met Office predicted worse could follow overnight and on Wednesday.
The Met Office said Dorset, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire could see "exceptionally heavy snowfall". Between 15cm and 30cm (6in and 12in) of snow is expected but there could be "in excess of 40cm (16in)".
"This is expected to cause widespread disruption to the transport network and could lead to problems with power supplies," the Met Office said.
A spokeswoman said warnings of either heavy snow or ice were in place for every county in the UK. Parts of Surrey, Hampshire, West Sussex, East Sussex, Buckinghamshire and the Isle of Wight are also expected to see "extreme" conditions.
National Grid, which issued only its second ever gas balancing alert (GBA) on Monday after a 30% surge in seasonal demand, said the warning would not be repeated on Wednesday. GBAs are a way of warning customers on "interruptible contracts" to ease off on the fuel as well as encouraging suppliers to bring in more gas. A spokeswoman said the situation was being monitored on a daily basis but stressed supplies were in place to cope with demand.
There were widespread travel problems with Manchester Airport and the John Lennon Airport in Liverpool being forced to temporarily close. Passengers at Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow and Leeds Bradford International also faced delayed flights. Channel Tunnel services, badly disrupted before Christmas due to problems with Eurostar trains, were held up after a problem with a Eurotunnel freight shuttle train.
On the roads, heavy snow caused a section of the A66 to be shut in both directions in Cumbria and a succession of accidents added to drivers' difficulties on many routes. Meanwhile, supermarkets saw a surge in panic buying as shoppers stocked up on essential items.
In Berkshire, a six-year-old boy was fighting for life in hospital after falling through ice in a garden pond while playing with a friend. It is thought the boy had been underwater for half an hour before he was pulled out by firefighters. His playmate, thought to be another boy around the same age, raised the alarm after the accident in Crookham Common, near Thatcham
NOTE- FEEL SO LUCKY HAVE SAFE JOURNEY LAST WEEK TO SCOTLAND@ SNOWLAND ALTHOUGH THE WEATHER ALMOST NOT PROMISING IN THAT TIME.....BUT GOT BAD EXPERIENCES JOURNEY WHEN BACK FROM DUBLIN LAST 20 DEC 2009.....THANKS TO ALMIGHTY GIVE ME CHANCES TO SEE THE SNOW BEAUTIES OF THE SCENERY AS MY MIND THERAPY..WALLAHAUALAM....
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