Snow and ice spark travel chaos as Brits urged to stock up on food in -10C blast

Britons are facing travel chaos as snow and dangerous black ice cause "treacherous" road conditions across the country ahead of another brutal storm.

Manchester and Liverpool airports have closed their runways.

Police have responded to multiple crashes on roads covered in "hidden ice patches", and dozens of schools have been closed in places including Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and the Highlands.

The Met Office has issued snow and ice warnings for most of the UK, telling drivers and pedestrians to watch out for ice on untreated roads and pavements, and expect delays after temperatures plunged to -10C overnight.

Snow or wintry showers were blanketing places including Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Norwich, southwest England, Derry, North Wales and western parts of Scotland on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Britons have been urged to stock up on food and prepare for another Arctic blast that will bring "very significant snowfall" – up to 10cm (4ins) – from Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday got off to a chilly start with widespread ice and frost, and wintry showers in the north and west.

The Met Office warned: "Wintry showers will follow into western areas on Wednesday morning, giving further slight accumulations of snow in a few places.

"Ice is likely on some untreated surfaces."

Highways England tweeted: "Take extra care driving in the North West this morning as there are some challenging weather conditions with @metoffice warnings for snow. Our winter vehicles are out treating road surfaces so please give them plenty of room."

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Please drive carefully this morning, numerous accidents already. Not just snow, but hidden ice patches too.

"Please slow down and be alert."

In Somerset, the M5 northbound was closed due to a crash and traffic was diverting from J24-J23 via the A38 through Bridgwater.

In North Wales, road conditions were "very poor" due to heavy snow in many areas, said police.

Wednesday will be a cold day with temperatures barely climbing above the freezing mark, but it will feel more like -1C to -5C in populated areas.

Mountainous parts of Scotland will have brutal wind chills of -16C.

Skies will clear later in the day and a frost will return quickly in the evening, the Met Office said.

Wintry showers will persist over northern Scotland but will gradually die out elsewhere.

Wednesday night will be very cold with icy stretches and patchy freezing fog, as temperatures plunge to about -10C.

Another blast of snow will hit on Thursday, with up to 10cm possible in parts of southern England.

The Met Office has issued warnings for snow and ice for most of England and Wales from 3pm on Thursday. 

It said: "Rain and snow is expected to move in from the southwest, moving across England and Wales through Thursday into Friday.

"This is likely to fall as heavy rain at first across the far southwest of England, but as it meets the cold air established over the rest of the country snow becomes more likely.

"There is a chance of 2-5cm of snow for some places, timings are currently uncertain.

"Ten centimetres is possible in places, though there is uncertainty at this stage on where is most likely to see the greater snowfall accumulations.

"Overnight Thursday into early Friday ice may also become a hazard on any untreated surfaces as temperatures fall below freezing."

The Met Office said some rural communities could be cut off by snowfall, travel could be delayed and power cuts could occur.

Journeys on the roads should ideally be avoided if possible, said Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill.

Current yellow weather warnings might also be upped to amber, and vulnerable people are warned to take extra precautions.

Mr Burkill said: "Looking further ahead, it’s what happens on Thursday that has the potential to be more disruptive.

"It does have the potential to bring some very significant snow. We have already got a warning out in force for it.

"It’s currently just a yellow warning, but it’s not out of the question that will be ramped up nearer the time.

"It’s looking like it will be a spell of persistent snow."

The year’s record low of -10.8C, recorded in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, on January 18 is also likely to be beaten.

Benton, in Oxfordshire, and Santon Downham, Suffolk, are among parts of England which could be coldest.

"I think Scotland will probably be the coldest place but it’s not out of the question we got into negative double figures in parts of England," Mr Burkill said.

Age UK has urged elderly people to stock up on medication and to keep food in the cupboard or freezer.

Official Met Office figures for snowfall on Tuesday showed the worst-hit areas were Tulloch Bridge, Inverness-shire, with 11cm, and Spadeadam, Cumbria, with 10cm.

Councils have prepared for heavy snowfall, with more than 1.4 million tonnes of salt stockpiled, the Local Government Association said.

Public Health England has also warned at-risk people, including the elderly, to take precautions.

Dr Emer O’Connell, a public health consultant, said: "If you can, check on family, friends and neighbours who are older, have heart and lung conditions or young children as all these groups are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold."

Met Office five-day forecast

Wednesday

A cold and frosty start, with sunny spells and occasional wintry showers, mainly in the north and west where they may leave a covering of snow in places.

Under clearing skies, a frost will return quickly in the evening.

Wednesday night

Wintry showers will persist over northern Scotland but will gradually die out elsewhere with often clear skies.

Very cold with some icy stretches forming, as well as patchy freezing fog.

Thursday

Rain, sleet and snow will reach the southwest early Thursday and then move slowly northeast across England and Wales.

Elsewhere sunny spells and isolated wintry showers continuing in the north.

Friday

Thundery showers in southwest clearing early Friday, with wintry outbreaks elsewhere also easing away from windward coasts.

Saturday

Cold with some wintry showers.

Sunday

Rain spreading from the west later in the day.

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