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Britain braced for return of Arctic weather

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Britain is facing a fresh onslaught of Arctic weather with airports, rail companies and breakdown services putting extra snow teams on standby.

Temperatures plunged below freezing overnight, with icy road conditions expected to affect the north of the UK this morning.

Forecasters said snow showers would return to Scotland and coastal areas throughout the day and warned of up to 15cm (6in) of snow and bitter temperatures across the whole of Britain as we head into next week.

Julian Mayes, senior forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “We’re basically looking at potential icy conditions spreading down from the north so the emphasis is on icy roads following rain.

“Tonight will end up very cold with snow showers that will affect particularly north Scotland and western coasts.

“What we’re going to find on Friday is these snow showers begin to move eastwards. Going into Saturday morning, a larger area of snow is going to develop and begin to move east.

“In the early hours of Saturday morning, it will be snowing over quite a large bit of Britain and we could be seeing some appreciable snow quite widely.

“Night-time temperatures will fall to minus 5C (23F) in southern England and minus 10C (14F) in Scotland. Quite a few places may be starting below minus 10C (14F).

“Next week, it will stay cold with a further risk of snow in places.”

The Met Office today issued weather warnings for widespread icy roads across Scotland, the north-west and the north-east, and heavy snow for almost all of the UK.

The warnings came after a brief respite from the extreme weather that gripped the country for more than a fortnight.

The Met Office said snowfall at the end of November was the earliest widespread snow for 17 years with winds from the North Sea also bringing the worst December weather for almost three decades.

Thousands of schools were forced to close, flights and trains were cancelled, and the AA said it came close to its busiest day on record with callouts peaking at almost 25,000.

The recovery firm said it had extra patrols on standby for the return of the “big freeze”.

Gavin Hill-Smith, AA spokesman, said: “We’re expecting things to be pretty busy as we start to enter the Christmas getaway period.

“As the schools start to break up from Friday, it does mean people who are having a fortnight off will start heading off and that’s going to coincide with this bout of weather.

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