A snow and ice alert is in place for London and the South East from Sunday morning – after the white stuff fell at Gatwick airport and temperatures plummeted to -9C.
The warning from the Met Office, which lasts 24 hours, says two to five centimetres of snow could fall quite widely, up to 10cm in some places.
It reads: ‘Snow may push in across parts of east and south-east England, leading to a risk of travel disruption especially on Monday morning.’
Videos posted on Twitter earlier showed snow falling in parts of West Sussex, including in Crawley and at Gatwick.
Snow fell in the south of England this morning after temperatures plummeted to -9C in parts of the country – as the Troll of Trondheim tightened its icy grip. Videos posted on Twitter showed snow falling in parts of West Sussex, including in Crawley and at Gatwick Airport
Overnight snow in Consett, County Durham. Parts of the UK are being hit by freezing conditions with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issuing a Level 3 cold weather alert covering England until Monday and the Met Office issuing several yellow weather warnings for snow and ice in parts of the UK over the coming days
It came after Benson in South Oxfordshire was hit by the worst of the cold weather, with the village seeing the mercury plummet to -9C.
Snow also fell across much of Scotland and parts of Yorkshire and north Wales, whilst images showed another wintry covering in Consett, County Durham.
There could be further misery with blackouts a possibility, as the National Grid warned of ‘tighter’ margins between supply and demand this coming week, particularly ‘in the next few days’.
It is considering firing up coal fired power stations or paying households to use less energy for the first time.
And nearly two thirds of councils are struggling to find gritter drivers, meaning that conditions on roads could become even more treacherous.
Vehicle breakdowns up by a quarter
Vehicle breakdowns were up by around a quarter on Thursday as drivers and vehicles struggled in freezing temperatures.
The number of stranded vehicles is expected to remain higher than normal on Friday, the RAC said.
Rod Dennis from the breakdown rescue company said: ‘Thursday was an exceptionally busy day for our patrols, with around a quarter more breakdowns taking place nationwide than is normal for this time of year.
‘The eastern side of the UK saw most of the demand.
‘Flat batteries and problems with tyres, especially punctures, were the top reasons for drivers breaking down.
‘We’re expecting Friday to be even busier as many people – including students – use their cars to get away for the weekend or take a day off to do their Christmas shopping.
‘It’s a picture that’s going to continue into the weekend and next week as the cold snap continues.’
An AA spokesman described Thursday as ‘extremely busy’, adding: ‘The AA’s workload was 20% above forecast and one of our busiest workload days for many years.
‘Breakdowns peaked at 1,200 jobs per hour.
‘The days ahead will be very challenging but not as busy overall.
‘We expect Friday to be approximately 16% over forecast, with breakdowns dropping off over the weekend and then peaking again on Monday with probably 15% above forecast.’
Drivers are advised to check their cars before starting journeys and pack extra clothes, food and a warm drink in a flask.
The Local Government Association’s (LGA) annual weather survey found that whilst councils’ gritter fleets and salt stockpiles are healthy, there is a lack of workers to deliver their cold weather plans.
Overall, 63 per cent of authorities reported they were finding it difficult to recruit and retain drivers.
Overnight, it was Stannington in Sheffield that will have suffered the hardest – with a Major Incident still declared there.
Up to 2,000 properties are without gas after flooding wrecked the system earlier this week.
Further cold weather is set to cause more misery however, with yellow warnings for snow and ice in place across northern Scotland until Sunday.
A yellow ice warning is also in place for parts of the south-west and north-west of England and in the north of Northern Ireland until Sunday.
A further ice warning was in place for eastern areas and the north-east of England until midday today.
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: ‘The outlook for the UK remains cold at least for the next seven days, with the potential for this to continue even longer.
‘At the moment the air mass which is feeding the cold conditions is coming from a northerly direction, even with an Arctic influence.
‘However, this air mass is also relatively drier so most of the precipitation is in the form of showers rather than continuous like you would get with a weather front. This has the benefit of bringing quite clear and bright conditions by day for many.
‘Along with the cold air there are a number of weather-related hazards including freezing fog, especially for Sunday and Monday mornings in the south of England.
‘Overnight temperatures are likely to dip widely below zero with some more sheltered spots dropping to minus 10C.
‘Our forecasters are looking at the possibility of snow affecting the south east of England on Sunday night and into Monday morning. If this happens it could bring some disruption to Monday’s rush hour.’
Meanwhile, just over 3,200 warm banks, run by local authorities and charities to provide heating to those who can not afford to heat their homes, are open across the UK, according to the Warm Welcome Campaign.
It said many of them are a third or even half full and offer a variety of services, from hot tea to a place to work.
Charity Save the Children said 194 of 355 councils in England and Wales are directly involved in or supporting local groups to open warm spaces this winter.
Councillor Richard Wenham, Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: ‘Warm hubs and other similar schemes are among the many actions councils are taking to support people in the greatest need this winter, but these emergency schemes should not become the norm and are not a sustainable solution to bridge the gap between income and the current cost of living.’
Engineers continuing to try and get gas supplies back to homes in icy Stannington, Sheffield
A deer stag in a frost covered landscape in Richmond Park in London after temperatures in the capital dip below freezing overnight
A woman walks her dog through overnight snow near the Terris Novalis sculpture in Consett, County Durham
Deer graze in a frosty Richmond Park south-west London this morning as weather forecasters warn the Arctic blast is set to continue for at least another week
Winter arrives this morning at Penshaw Monument in Sunderland with the first snowfall of the year
A man walks through overnight snow near the Terris Novalis sculpture in Consett, County Durham this morning
A level 3 cold weather alert is in place across England until Monday, with several Met Office yellow warnings also in force. Above: Snow on the ground today in Consett, County Durham
Scotland has seen the most of the snowfall. Above: Snow on the ground in Aberdeenshire
A commuter is seen cycling along a frost covered Blackheath Common in south-east London this morning
A woman walks her dog through snow over Castleside Viaduct in Durham, where snow fell overnight
A van is seen in the middle of a snow-covered road in Castleside, County Durham, after its driver lost control
The vehicle’s front left wheel is seen hanging off after crashing into a tree in the snowy conditions
Drivers are seen battling wintry conditions on the roads in North Wales this morning after snow fall over night
Areas getting the cold weather payments
The icy overnight conditions spelled chaos on the roads as drivers struggled to cope.
It was made worse by the news that there is also a shortage of gritter drivers.
Reports suggested some households could be asked to cut electricity usage within days amid rising energy costs and sun and wind levels that will remain low.
Last night the Scottish Highlands saw the mercury drop to -9.3C at Aonach Mor mountain while Aberdeen saw 2in (5cm) of snow.
Temperatures dropped to -3C with snow in Whitby, Bridlington and Scarborough in North Yorkshire, while Gatwick Airport recorded -5C by midnight.
The National Grid said it is on standby to take ‘enhanced actions’ to shore up power supplies this weekend as wind levels drop, according to the Daily Telegraph.
A spokesman for the company said: ‘Margins are expected to be tighter this week, particularly for the next few days. This is based on our current assessment and is subject to change.
‘Our control room has a range of operational tools available to manage this.
‘These actions also include our enhanced actions.’
But Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said more must be done, adding: ‘Millions will have been dreading the onset of winter.
‘Impossibly high prices and now cold weather will leave millions struggling to stay warm and safe at home.
‘Our figures show that 6.7 million UK households are fuel poor after energy prices have almost doubled in a year.
‘We hear daily from people who are forced to turn their heating off when they need it the most.
‘The vicious choice is either huge debt or an unheated home, with dreadful consequences either way.
‘We will now start to see just how bleak this winter is going to be.
‘Despite the current programme of support, the Government must step in with more help for those at greatest peril this winter.’
The National Grid forecasts that wind generation in Britain is set to fall to 2.9 gigawatts today and 1.1 GW on Sunday.
This would take the company’s ‘spare capacity’ below ‘adequate’ levels.
It is unclear exactly what these enhanced measures are, but it could include people being paid to use less energy at peak times, the Telegraph reports.
Charities warned that vulnerable elderly people could be caught out in the cold snap due to the cost of energy prices and blackout risk.
Morgan Vine, head of policy at Independent Age, said: ‘The prospect of blackouts affecting older people’s heating and electricity supply this winter is incredibly worrying.
‘Not being able to put the lights on or keep warm enough could put many older people’s health at risk, increasing the chance of falls and making health conditions worse.
A woman walks her dog near the Terris Novalis sculpture today, after snow fell overnight
A walker is seen in Dunsden, Oxfordshire this morning amid a frost and low temperatures
Snow-covered homes are seen in Consett, County Durham, this morning after last night’s wintry showers
The Troll from Trondheim is set to bring low winds and sun exposure, making usual winter energy backups harder to come by
Gordon Pearson who took advantage of closed roads near Carrbirdge to get in a bit of cross country skiing
Locals in the village of Egton spread salt on the snow and ice to help motorists up a hill in the village
Commuters are seen traveling in the wintery conditions on the North Yorkshire Moorson Thursday
A model suggested the snow could be focused in the south of England. The presence of snow will depend on the movement of the low pressure system in the Atlantic
‘Many older people rely on equipment that needs continuous power, have telephones connected to their broadband routers or use their TV or radio to stay connected.
One resident in Stannington described their home as ‘as cold as Iceland’ without fuel to warm their house.
They added they had wrapped their son in five blankets overnight but had still woken up cold.
The trigger in some areas has also been reached for some people to get cold weather payments.
Households in 300 postcodes will get £25 if they area already in receipt of certain benefits.
A driver careered off a frosty country road in Banbury, Oxon, ending up suspended in a hedgerow
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: ‘Cold weather payments can be triggered right through to the end of March, giving people facing disproportionately cold weather that extra reassurance over the chillier months.
‘We’re committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and this additional help comes on top of wider Government support including £1,200 in direct payments already issued to millions of low-income households this year.
‘Alongside this, we’re providing households with £400 towards their energy bills this winter, with our energy price guarantee saving the typical household another £900 on top of this.’