In Brief

Beast from the East and Storm Emma cause fourth day of chaos

Red warning lifted but more blizzard-like conditions expected this weekend

Parts of the UK will be hit by up to 50cm of snow as Storm Emma brings another icy blast to a country already in the grip of the so-called Beast from the East cold snap, forecasters are warning.

A “highly unusual” red weather warning, meaning a threat to life, was in force overnight for southwest England and south Wales, reports the BBC.

Although that red alert has now been lifted, Irish weather office Met Eireann has upheld its “status red” national warning, saying blizzard-like conditions are expected - which may arrive on UK shores over the weekend, says The Guardian.

The freezing weather has already claimed at least ten lives across Britain, says the Daily Mirror

Meanwhile, flights and trains have been cancelled nationwide, and thousands of schools remain closed. The Army was drafted in last night to help rescue motorists trapped in their cars on the A31, where Hampshire Police declared a “major incident”. 

‘Beast from the East’: troops called in as UK battles snow 

1 March

Heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures are causing further disruption across Britain today as the so-called Beast from the East cold snap continues.

The Ministry of Defence has sent troops to help the emergency services in Lincolnshire after police there were inundated with appeals for help from people struggling to cope with the snow and ice, reports The Guardian.

Lincolnshire deputy chief constable Craig Naylor told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We have military officers and troops on the ground with four-wheel-drive vehicles assisting our volunteers.”

Meanwhile, "forecasters extended a red alert to parts of Wales, including Cardiff, and southwest England on Thursday morning, warning of the dangers the wind and snow could pose”, says the newspaper. A red alert means there is a “risk to life and infrastructure”.

The warnings come after four people died in two separate accidents on Tuesday that were “believed to be related to the weather”, says ITV News.

Three people were killed in a crash with a lorry in Lincolnshire, and a man died in a collision in Cambridgeshire.

There have also been reports of other weather-related deaths. On Wednesday, a man in his 60s died after falling into a freezing lake in southeast London.

The hazardous conditions continue to cause travel disruption across Britain. North of the border, up to 1,000 motorists were stranded in their cars for up to 13 hours on the M80 outside Glasgow as traffic came to a standstill yesterday afternoon.

Airports including Glasgow and Edinburgh are closed, along with London Paddington station, London’s main rail hub to the West Country and Wales.

Virgin Trains has closed all its routes to and from Scotland for the day, while ScotRail has halted all operations in the red alert area until late morning.

Many hundreds of schools across the UK remain shut today, including more than 400 in Scotland. A full list of closures in England and Wales is available here.

28 February

'Beast from the East': snow brings further travel misery

Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures are causing further travel disruption across Britain today as the "Beast from the East" cold snap intensifies.

Drivers are being urged to take extra care on the icy roads, and hundreds of flights and trains have been cancelled, after the mercury plummeted to as low as -11C overnight.

The Met Office has extended many of its weather warnings and is warning that blizzards and sub-zero temperatures are expected to continue until at least Friday.

Several major roads are closed as emergency services rescue stranded motorists and deal with multiple crashes, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Four people have died in car crashes in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, although police say it is too soon to say if the weather was a factor in the accidents.

Police in Scotland are urging motorists to stay off the roads where possible.  

Heathrow, London City, Glasgow and Newcastle airports have suspended flights as they work to clear snow from their runways, the BBC reports. Travellers are being urged to check with airlines before setting off on their journeys.

National Rail is also warning that its services could face "major disruption", the broadcaster says, with the Stansted Express already cancelling its service between Liverpool Street and Bishop's Stortford.

Meanwhile, many hundreds of schools across the UK remain shut today, including more than 400 in Scotland. A full list of closures in England and Wales is available here.

27 February

‘Beast from the East’: hundreds of schools closed amid snow and extreme cold

Hundreds of UK schools have closed their doors today as thermometers plunged below zero across much of the UK.

Up to 10cm of snow fell overnight in the worst-hit regions of south-east and north-east England as the country felt the icy grip of the “Beast from the East”, a cold front originating in Siberia that is now affecting most of Europe, the BBC reports.

Temperatures were below freezing in many parts of Britain this morning, with treacherous driving conditions and hundreds of cancelled trains turning the cold snap into a nightmare for commuters.

Schools from Cornwall to Scotland have called off lessons for the day over fears that snow and ice on pavements and roads could prevent staff and students from getting to school safely.

At least 125 schools were closed in Kent alone this morning, the Daily Mirror reports.

The Met Office has forecast that Tuesday will bring longer periods of snow than the flurries seen on Monday, warning that rural communities could become “cut off” in the extreme weather.

“Power cuts may also occur and other services, such as mobile phones, may be affected.”

The cold blast is being brought to the UK by a “polar vortex”, with a large pocket of low pressure over the North Pole pushing dense cold air in an anti-clockwise direction.

The vortex has split in two and its southern part has been chilled by the cold air over Siberia to create what meteorologists have called the “Beast from the East”. 

Forecasters say the freezing conditions could last until the middle of March.

23 February

‘Beast from the East’ cold snap takes hold

The United Kingdom is bracing for a severe wintery snap in the coming days, as a blast of cold weather dubbed the “Beast from the East” approaches.

The icy conditions are believed to be caused by a weather phenomenon called a “sudden stratospheric warming” above the North Pole, which will drag very cold air from Siberia to the UK as early as next week.

Sky News warns that winter winter is “far from over”, with temperatures expected to hit 1C or 2C for most of the country, and -5C at night.

The Weather Channel says temperatures will be “dropping 2-3C below average by the end of the week”, with the possibility of disruptive heavy snowfall associated with the freezing easterly blast.

Bloomberg reports that “prices for electricity, natural gas, coal and carbon” have risen sharply in the UK and across much of Europe, as demand for heating is expected to increase significantly.

Snow showers could hit parts of the west coast of the UK as early as this afternoon, forecasters added.

Temperatures will begin to fall on Friday and continue to do so through the weekend, meteorologist Aidan McGivern told the Daily Express.

He explained: “A southeasterly breeze as we begin Friday is going to become a little stronger, and that is one difference we will notice on Friday afternoon compared to Thursday, the brisk winds making it feel particularly chilly.

“Temperatures on the thermometer will be three to six degrees Celsius but in that breeze, it will feel closer to freezing.”

“However there will be long spells of sunshine, virtually everywhere will stay dry under a huge area of high pressure to the north-east of the UK.”

“We keep an easterly breeze as it heads into the UK, so it is a weekend of sunny skies but also chilly temperatures.”

Parts of Scotland are expected to face overnight temperatures as low as -10C on Monday, forecasters added.

But it’s set to get even colder next week when “polar continental air brings freezing weather from Siberia,” the Met Office said.

Meteorologist Alex Burkill told the Evening Standard that the cold snap was likely to mirror freezing winter weather seen in March 2013 – the second coldest March recorded in more than 100 years.

He said: “Britain faces what we could call a significant cold period that is likely to last for much of next week and beyond.”

“Temperatures will remain below 0C in some places dropping to minus double figures overnight.”

“It will be similar to a cold period seen in spring 2013 and is very likely to be colder as it is slightly earlier in the year meaning the sun is not as strong.”

“Significant snow showers will sweep the UK from Monday bringing heavy frost and the risk of widespread disruption. It is not possible to give exact areas at this time but wintery showers are likely to be widespread including London and the south east.”

Temperatures will feel as low as -4C by Wednesday, the Met Office added.

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