The Met Office tonight issued an emergency alert warning that London and the Home Counties could be buried by more then 40cm (16in) of snow overnight.
As the Arctic cold snap was forecast to make this Britain’s coldest winter for 30 years, residents of counties including Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire were advised to take action to avoid the worst of the snowfall.
A Met Office meteorologist said the highest level of alert had triggered a warning for the emergency services advising them to prepare for the worst.
“This kind of warning is very rare,” he said. “It’s the level of alert we put out for the floods in the summer of 2007.”
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Britain paralysed by snow and freezing weather
by Murray Wardrop, The Telegraph
Much of Britain has been paralysed by blizzards and freezing weather which forced hundreds of schools to close and crippled transport networks.
Commuters and holidaymakers faced travel chaos as snow and ice shut airports, caused gridlock on the roads and led to scores of delayed and cancelled rail services.
Thousands of children were sent home as schools across Scotland and northern England were forced to close amid sub-zero temperatures.
Forecasters warned that the snow and arctic conditions are set to continue into the weekend, while southern England is braced to be the “crucible” of the severe weather later today.
The renewed wave of bitter weather comes as experts predicted that Britain is facing the coldest winter in 100 years.
The prolonged cold snap has also led to fears that Britain could be confronted with a shortage of gas after the National Grid warned supplies to reduce use of the fuel.
It was the second time ever that the move has been taken and came after a 30 per cent rise on normal seasonal demand.
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