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UK braces for a blast of winter
A Highways Agency worker loads gritting salt as weather forecasters predict snow across parts of the country
Temperatures continued to fall across Britain as the country braces itself for a blast of wintry weather.
Commuters face a difficult journey to and from work on Monday when several centimetres of snow is expected across many areas, and the mercury dipped below zero in parts of Scotland today.
Julian Mayes, senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said temperatures in some areas were between 2 and 5C on Saturday. But in Inverness and Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands it never got above minus 1C as wintry conditions are expected to roar in.
Mr Mayes said: "We can expect icy roads in some areas overnight, and tomorrow it will again be cold, with the first of two bands of precipitation - an awkward mixture of snow and sleet - arriving over Scotland and Northern Ireland. This will move across Scotland, bringing quite a lot of snow north of the border in the daylight hours. As this area of rain and snow comes south east later tomorrow, it is going to run into the quite cold air which is over England and Wales, and we will see some snow across northern England and the Midlands.
"That first band of snow will probably move over south east England by the early hours of Monday. That obviously is going to be potentially awkward for commuting to work on Monday morning. I don't think it will be particularly deep, but we can expect a widespread covering.
"Then there will be a short break, before a second band which has come in from the north west arrives over central and eastern England, bringing several centimetres of snow to much of the country, though some coastal areas may escape with rain and sleet. So the evening commute may be worse than the morning one. The snow will clear away, but it will stay cold until the end of the week, and there may be more snow showers, particularly near eastern coasts and south east England, on Tuesday and early Wednesday."
Online retailer Amazon said sales of sledges had surged by 600%. Tesco said its sales of snow shovels are up more than five times last week's levels and expects them to increase even further in coming days. Sales of cold weather car products such as windscreen wash with anti-freeze and ice scrapers are already 25% higher than last week.
The AA has warned that 75% of drivers are not prepared for conditions on the roads, and urged drivers to carry an essential winter kit and check their cars before getting behind the wheel. The RAC is expecting up to 56,000 breakdowns and widespread disruption. It has placed extra patrols on standby to help stranded motorists and said call-outs are expected to rise by 20% or more.
The Highways Agency has said it is "well prepared" for winter conditions. A spokeswoman said: "We have a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art winter vehicles on standby, supported by tried-and-tested winter resilience plans. We have reviewed salt stock levels and taken action where needed to enhance our resilience and we have again established a reserve salt stock to help ensure that there is enough salt to deal with severe winter.
"Our roads will be treated whenever there is a risk of ice or snow. However, even when roads have been treated, drivers should still take care, especially on stretches where the local road layout or landscape means there could be a greater risk of ice forming."