Thundersnow to hit UK with ice warning in place for the entire country

Met Office ice warnings are in place for most of the country this morning as a band of  thundersnow moves in.

Forecasters are warning of travel chaos throughout this morning, after the rain -drenched ground begins to freeze as temperatures plunge.

The “thundersnow” front – which is the formation of thunderstorms in wintry conditions – is mainly expect to hit northern and western parts of the UK, with the chance of thunder, lightning and heavy snow showers.

Showers are forecast to continue to bring rain, sleet or snow at times as the day progresses, although significant flurries are expected to remain limited to higher ground.

Temperatures in London and Cardiff are expected to peak at 5C, while Birmingham will see highs of 3C and 2C in Edinburgh.

Highways England warned motorists that it was snowing "quite heavy" on the M62 trans-Pennine route, where efforts were under way to keep the road open using ploughs and salt.

On the M6 snow caused the closure of the southbound entry sliproad at junction four overnight, although the road was reopened in the early hours.

Meanwhile a fleet of 32 gritters was out in south-west Scotland where Transerv described conditions as "baltic".

Some light snow was also seen down in south-east England as the wintry front moved through from the north-west.

Met Office meteorologist Sophie Yeomans said: "Most of the country is in the colder and showery air. The snow is mainly on the hills, while for most places the showers are falling as rain and maybe a bit of sleet.

"We’ve got some ice warnings; the weather front that has gone through has left rain on the ground, so as the air temperatures start to drop ground temperatures will be below zero and that’s giving the risk of ice across most of the UK.

"So look out for any areas where the surfaces haven’t been treated. On untreated surfaces there’s a risk of slips and falls.

"There’s also a risk of some icy surfaces on any untreated roads."

What are the dangers?

The Met Office said icy surfaces – roads, pavements and cycle paths – could lead to injuries from slips and falls.

There is a risk of travel disruption.

In the snow warning area, the national forecaster said there could be delays on some roads and railways.

It will be very cold across the country this week, and many places won’t see daytime highs above 3C to 6C.

Public Health England’s cold weather alert is at level three ("severe weather action") – its second-highest level – in the North West and North East, and level two or one for the rest of England.

Dr Emer O’Connell said: “Experience shows us that every winter thousands of people are seriously affected and even die from illnesses linked to the cold.

"Protecting yourself from the cold may seem like common sense but many people do not manage to keep themselves warm.

“If you know someone at risk, someone over 65, anyone with dementia or a heart and lung condition, or a young child, check up on them and see if there’s anything you can do to help.

"All of us should be heating our homes to at least 18C, keeping up to date with weather forecasts and planning our days around them – simple steps can really help protect against the cold.”

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