Snow and ice has brought treacherous conditions to many parts of the UK overnight, with the cold snap forecast to continue into the new year.
Bands of rain, sleet and snow were moving across the country on Tuesday morning, bringing dangerous driving conditions, particularly in Manchester, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Berkshire, the Met Office said.
Year of extreme weather creates confusion for Britain's flora and fauna
In east Lancashire, there were “lots of collisions coming in as the snow falls heavily”, according to Terry Woods, the deputy chief constable of Lancashire, while Highways England also warned motorists of snow-covered roads.
The AA said regional restrictions, imposed because of Covid-19, meant roads were quieter than normal.
A yellow warning for snow and ice for much of England, Wales and Scotland would remain until 10am after heavy snowfall in some regions, with more wintry weather expected on Wednesday and Thursday.
The warning area was extended at 2am to cover more of southern and central Scotland, as well as further south-east to include parts of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
Freezing fog patches were likely to be slow to clear in parts of England and western Scotland, the Met Office added.
Temperatures were close to freezing in central Scotland and parts of the Midlands, a Met Office graph showed, and were between 2C (35.6F) and 4C elsewhere, rising to 7C in Plymouth.
The Met Office said: “Wintry showers will start to fade inland in the afternoon, but they will continue to stream into coastal areas, northern Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
Temperatures in the afternoon were forecast to be approximately 4-7C across the UK, turning cold quickly in the evening with widespread frost.
Swathes of London, the south, south-west, plus the east of England and Wales and parts of the Midlands, have also been warned snow and ice could cause disruption on Wednesday and Thursday.
A low-pressure system was expected to merge rain with cold air, turning to snow over hills and lower areas.
The Met Office said further warnings were likely this week as the cold snap continued into 2021.
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When lockdown began, climate scientists were horrified at the unfolding tragedy, but also intrigued to observe what they called an “inadvertent experiment” on a global scale. To what extent, they asked, would the Earth system respond to the steepest slowdown in human activity since the second world war?
Environmental activists put the question more succinctly: how much would it help to save the planet?
Almost one year on from the first reported Covid case, the short answer is: not enough. In fact, experts say the pandemic may have made some environmental problems worse, though there is still a narrow window of opportunity for something good to come from something bad if governments use their economic stimulus packages to promote a green recovery.
During the northern hemisphere spring, when restrictions were at their strictest, the human footprint softened to a level not seen in decades. Flights halved, road traffic in the UK fell by more than 70%. Industrial emissions in China, the world’s biggest source of carbon, were down about 18% between early February and mid-March – a cut of 250m tonnes. Car use in the United States declined by 40%. So light was humankind’s touch on the Earth that seismologists were able to detect lower vibrations from “cultural noise” than before the pandemic.
The respite was too short to reverse decades of destruction, but it did provide a glimpse of what the world might feel like without fossil fuels and with more space for nature.
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