Up to four inches of snow can fall in southern England in a matter of days, leading to travel chaos.
The country will experience at least seven days of arctic weather during which temperatures could drop to -10C amid winter downpours and ‘freezing fog’.
It comes after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) sent a level three cold weather warning to England until Monday.
A new 24-hour warning for Sunday predicts two to five inches of snow and as much as four inches could fall in the south of the country.
Forecasters say there is a chance of travel delays on roads, trains and planes, as well as power outages and injuries from slipping on ice, while communities could be “cut off.”
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: ‘The outlook for the UK remains cold for at least the next seven days, with the possibility of this continuing for longer.
‘At the moment, the air mass that feeds the cold is coming from the north, even with arctic influences.
‘However, this air mass is also relatively drier, so most precipitation falls in the form of showers rather than continuously as with a weather front. This has the advantage of providing fairly bright and clear conditions for many during the day.
In addition to the cold air, there are a number of weather-related hazards, including freezing fog, particularly on Sunday and Monday mornings in the south of England.
At night temperatures are likely to drop well below zero with some more sheltered spots dropping to -10C.
Our forecasters are looking at the possibility of snow in the south east of England on Sunday evening and Monday morning. If that happens, it could cause some disruption to Monday’s rush hour.’
Temperatures dropped to -9C late Thursday in the South Oxfordshire village of Benson.
Much of Scotland has already seen snow, such as in the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, or flurries in the Central Belt.
Meanwhile, there are just over 3,200 warm banks open across the UK, run by local authorities and charities to provide heating to those who cannot afford to heat their homes.
It said many of them are a third or even half full and offer a variety of services from hot tea to a workplace.
Isobel Hunter MBE, CEO of Libraries Connected, the national membership body for public libraries, said: “The vast majority of our member libraries are part of a warm room program and as the severe cold weather spreads many are reporting a spike in the ask .
How to stay safe in your car during the weather warning
Elsewhere, roadside assistance company RAC said Thursday was an “exceptionally busy day for patrols” with a quarter more breakdowns in the UK than is “normal” for the time of year.
Spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘At least we expect today to be even busier as many people – including students – use their cars to go away for the weekend or take the day off to do their Christmas shopping.
“It’s a picture that will continue into the weekend and into next week if the cold continues.
It is vital that drivers ensure their cars are ready for the conditions to limit the risk of breakdowns in low temperatures, and this weekend is an ideal time to check their car’s tyres, as well as the oil, coolant and windshield washer level.
“Anyone embarking on a longer journey should pack a winter pack they can use if the worst happens, which should include plenty of warm layers for all passengers, a bottle of hot drink, as well as food, water and a power bank to keep a mobile phone charged.”
“They expect that to increase in the coming days as the weather gets worse.”
Save the Children said 194 of 355 councils in England and Wales are directly involved or supporting local groups to open warm spaces this winter.
Staff have been told that families sleep under multiple duvets and rely on hot water bottles to stay warm this winter.
The government payments have been activated for eligible households in areas where the average temperature has been recorded as or is expected to be 0C or lower for seven consecutive days.
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