Sunday, November 11th 2012, 5:35 PM EST
BRITAIN is set for a “nightmare” end to 2012, which has been colder than every year bar one since the mid-1990s.
The Met Office said a big freeze will hit within three weeks, sparking fears of transport chaos.
The Daily Star Sunday revealed last month that the Met Office was briefing the Government and road chiefs to prepare for colder than average temperatures until the end of January.
They have forecast winter’s first big freeze at the end of November, as temperatures plunge “well below average”.
Ice and frost are expected to cause transport problems, with heavy snow a major risk.
Nights will be sub-zero and days will be anchored close to freezing.
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Late-November cold spells can cause chaos, as happened in 2010 when a -14C chill dumped 16in of snow in the North and 8in in the South-East – kick-starting the year’s record-breaking, month-long pre-Christmas freeze.
Transports chiefs throughout the country have pledged to battle the freeze with a record three million-tonne grit mountain and thousands of council staff clearing snow and ice near schools and shops.
The previous record stockpile was 2.75million tonnes last winter.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “A great deal of work has been done across the transport sector preparing for winter.”
This year we have already had a -16C February freeze, farmers were ravaged by drought before the wettest summer for 100 years and the early winter brought snow to England five times in nine days up to last weekend.
Met Office figures show 2012 is colder than 15 out of 16 years since 1996.
This year’s UK mean temperature is 8.78C, based on January-October data and average temperatures for November and December.
The Met Office says below-average temperatures are forecast for November and December, meaning 2012’s final overall temperature is expected to be lower than 8.78C.
The only year since 1996 colder than that was 2010, at 7.97C.
2012’s low temperature will spark a fresh row between climate change believers and sceptics.
Doubters will claim global warming became global cooling this year in Britain.
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