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Deep freeze Britain

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Bren View Drop Down
Vintage Vamp
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  Quote Bren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Deep freeze Britain
    Posted: 03 Feb 2012 at 16:17

Best to stay in the warm! Weekend travel chaos looms with big freeze sweeping across the country… as last night’s temperature fell to -11C

  • Drivers told to pack cold weather provisions before setting off  as AA reports double the number of call-outs
  • Temperature plunged to -11C in Buckinghamshire last night with similar temperatures recorded in South West, Wales, Yorkshire and Northumbria

By Tamara Cohen and Damien Gayle

Last updated at 3:59 PM on 3rd February 2012

Drivers must take extra precautions before venturing out on the roads as Arctic conditions tighten their grip across the country, the AA warned today.

The breakdown service has told drivers to double check their vehicles, pack cold weather provisions including food and warm clothes, and take a fully charged mobile phone before setting off.

It has also reported a massive increase in the number of breakdowns over the past few days, as the cold takes its toll on roads and cars. Last night temperatures in the UK plunged to minus 11C, after forecasters yesterday issued a nationwide cold weather alert.


Ice, ice baby: Frozen in full flow, this dramatic waterfall at Fisher Gill in the Lake District appears still to be frothing and bubbling, as fell walker Martin Campbell looks on in wonder


Don't slip! Mr Campbell makes his way for a closer look at the frozen cataract, which turned to ice as temperatures across the country fell as low as minus 11C

Chesham in Buckinghamshire recorded a temperature of minus 11.1C (12F) at 5am, while the mercury fell nearly as low in areas including the South West, Wales, Yorkshire and Northumbria.

Forecasters were expecting a maximum of 2C (36F) across the UK during the day today, and warned that snow is on the way tomorrow. It comes after the Met Office raised fears for the elderly and ill by issuing its first country-wide Level 3 Cold Weather Alert of the winter.

The alert, the second most serious, is tied in to the Government's Cold Weather Plan and has been relayed to organisations such as Age UK, which help the elderly through winter.

The only higher alert is Level 4, which sees normally healthy people at risk from the cold.


And it's freezing cold down south, too: The fountain next to Westminster Bridge demonstrates how low the temperatures have dropped in central London


That wasn't what the tourists expected... Even the fountains in Trafalgar Square, London, have frozen over due to the freezing weather


Quick, where's Nelly's thermals? An elephant fountain display outside a garden centre in Marks Tey, Essex is covered in ice after the freezing cold night

Meanwhile, severe weather warnings are in place until Sunday, with icy conditions expected in parts of the England today and snow forecast in Wales, south-west Scotland and much of England tomorrow.

The cold weather has taken a serious toll on drivers, with the AA reporting their rescue teams attending around double the usual number of breakdowns.

According to the group's breakdown update, as of midday today the AA has responded to more than 8,700 breakdowns nationally - up from around 6,500 at the same time yesterday.

Call-outs peaked this morning at more than 1,800 every hour and the the group expects to attend around 19,000 for the day, double its usual workload, the statement said.


Not great weather for ducks... Ducks swim in the icy waters of St. James's Park in central London


Narcissus: A swan admires his reflection in the ice at Sherburn in Elmet, north Yorkshire

Gavin Hill-Smith, a spokesman for the AA, warned drivers against 'complacency' if they are planning to take to the roads this weekend.

'Unfortunately some people are still going out rather ill-prepared,' he told MailOnline today. 'We have got very cold temperatures and I think that is going to continue over the weekend. People should be very well prepared.

'We have seen a massive increase in breakdowns over the past few days because of the cold weather. You don't need to have snow and ice to cause problems.'

'If you are visiting friends and family then tell them when to expect you'

Gavin Hill-Smith, AA spokesman

Mr Hill-Smith said anyone making journeys by road should make sure they check weather and traffic reports before leaving, pack extra clothes, and make sure they bring along high-calorie snacks in case they get stranded in the cold weather.

'It's worth as well if you are visiting friends and family then tell them when to expect you,' he added.

Drivers should check over their vehicles before leaving home, paying particular attention to windscreen wash, tire pressures and snow and ice covering the windscreen.

In the past few days, Mr Hill-Smith said, many breakdown call outs had been to drivers who had got into their vehicles and tried to use the wipers to clear windscreen.

This had led to blades becoming damaged by sharp bits of ice or even, in the worst cases, the motors burning out trying to drive wipers stuck to the windscreen.


Slippery: A road traffic accident on the A1 near the Angel of The North in Gateshead this morning which caused a multiple car pile up closing the A1 southbound leading to congestion across the region

But when warmer weather returns, there is likely to be a new set of problems, the AA warns. It is also warning road users about a likely increase in potholes when the conditions thaw out.

Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: 'After several days of sub-zero temperatures, we’re expecting a rash of potholes when the current freeze ends. The cold penetrates deep into the road surface, which can collapse when it thaws out, creating a pothole.

'Road users, particularly those on two wheels, will need to be on the lookout, especially on secondary roads. Damage to wheels and tyres is quite common, so if you notice any unusual steering or other driving characteristics, get the vehicle checked at a garage or tyre specialist.'

Tom Tobler, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association said: 'Most places will see temperatures of no more than 1C or 2C today and a few won't get above zero.

'By tomorrow morning there's some patchy rain and snow arriving in north-west UK. It will move south eastwards during the day, bringing quite a lot of snow with it.

'There could be several centimetres in much of the country, except for some western areas where it will turn more readily to rain. The snow should clear through Sunday, although we might see a bit more in the South East in the morning.'


Dramatic: Icicles hang from a bridge in Smethwick, Birmingham, while the canal it spans is covered in great sheets of ice


With temperatures this week as low as minus 6.2C in Pershore, Worcestershire, minus 6.1C in South Farnborough, Hampshire, and minus 5.7C in Hurn, Dorset, the Cold Weather Alert is expected to remain in force until the weekend.

The Met Office said: 'This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.'

Across Europe, popular travel destinations are even worse off, with bleak temperatures such as minus 14C in Berlin, minus 17C in Prague, minus 8C in Paris, minus 13C in Stockholm and minus 20C in Warsaw. The European cold snap has already claimed 150 lives.

The icy weather has even hit Rome, with snow falling in the Italian capital for the first time in 26 years.

The city is usually blessed by a moderate climate but the snowfall prompted authorities stop visitors from entering the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors.

Britain's deep freeze has seen daytime temperatures plummet four or five degrees lower than average for February - traditionally the coldest month of the year.

While the sub-zero temperatures continue, a new shelter has opened for rough sleepers in the capital, funded by London Mayor Boris Johnson and run by homeless charity St Mungo's.

Plans are in place throughout the winter to ensure the 24-hour shelter in Lambeth is open and ready to receive people whenever three consecutive nights of freezing temperatures are predicted.

Meanwhile, letters have been sent to 675,000 homes across England to raise awareness of home energy grants. The mailshot concentrated on areas where there are high levels of fuel poverty, such as Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and County Durham.

Pensioners and people on very low incomes can get money off having their heating system repaired or replaced, or their lofts insulated.


Bracing: The Serpentine Swimming Club defy the almost freezing temperatures during the cold snap in London to take their daily dip in the Serpentine, Hyde Park. Members of the club swim each morning throughout the year


Brave: A swimmer descends a ladder to the icy waters. Right, another member of the club reacts to the cold

A spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA) said an army of council staff and volunteers would be braving the elements to make sure vulnerable people were cared for, and residents were also being encouraged to call in on elderly neighbours.

'Motorists are being advised to check the latest weather and gritting updates on council websites and "gritter Twitter" feeds, as well as refresh themselves on winter driving guidance and what to stock in their car,' he said.

'Information about school closures and bin collections is also being updated regularly online.

'Thousands of new grit bins have been placed in estates and side streets, residents have been given their own bags of salt along with salt spreaders in some neighbourhoods, and arrangements have been made with parish councils, community groups, snow wardens and farmers to grit hard-to-reach areas.

'There is no law against people clearing pavements or public spaces. Ministers have repeatedly welcomed public-spiritedness and said common sense, benefit of the doubt in favour of helpfulness and a responsibility on people to tread carefully in slippery conditions should prevail in the face of complaints. Many council websites carry advice on clearing pavements.'


Err, great day for a ramble: Walkers make their way over the frozen ground in Millington Pastures, Pocklington, East Yorkshire


My thermals are built in: A highland cow stands on the frozen ground in Millington Pastures, Pocklington, East Yorkshire


We're used to this: The Highland cattle seem to be taking the cool temperatures in their stride

Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, said: 'Councils have got more salt this year along with better plans to use it and new technology to make it go further.

'They're receiving up-to-the minute reports from weather experts and our gritting teams are on stand-by around-the-clock.

'Highways, street-cleaning and park staff could also be drafted in to help clear snow and ice around places like shops, schools and sheltered accommodation. Some staff have even learned to drive 4x4s to help out if needed.

'Residents can trust their council is doing all it can to keep roads open and traffic flowing, and rely on its website for the latest information.'


Salty snow: The freezing temperatures also turned the sea off Cumbria into an ice sheet for the first time in living memory

British Gas said its fleet of all-weather 4x4s was on stand-by to get engineers out to customers and keep Britain warm during the cold snap.

The company has received more than 200,000 calls in the last five days, compared with 120,000 to 140,000 during a normal winter week, and was expecting a further 50,000 this weekend, compared with 20,000 normally in the winter.

A spokesman said: 'With the roads becoming treacherous across the country, British Gas's fleet of nearly 100 4x4s will help British Gas to meet its customer commitment, to make same-day visits to 'Homecare' customers who have no heating or hot water and report the problem before 1pm.

'The 4x4s are specifically designed for dangerous road conditions and are strategically placed across the country to help British Gas reach customers.

'Alongside this, some 3,000 vans are fitted with winter weather tyres, equating to nearly a quarter of British Gas's fleet, meaning the 4x4s can focus on the hardest-to-reach customers.


Not taking any chances: A PCSO and a young brunette keep their noses and ears shielded from the cold as they cross the river at Westminster Bridge this morning


Keep those toddlers toasty! Apsara Shanker, 3, and David Hunter, 2, were wrapped up warm and holding hands to make sure they stayed steady on the slippery pavements this morning


Rosy cheeked: Sisi Heinrich's breath turns to steam as she walks across Westminster Bridge in the pale winter sun this morning

The RAC advised drivers to plan ahead for the rush-hour tonight as this evening was likely to see an extended rush-hour with drivers staggering their commute home.

A spokesman said: 'Yesterday RAC helped 40 per cent more customers than usual across the country, with the worst affected areas being Devon and Cornwall and East Anglia, reaching a peak yesterday morning in the South West with RAC attending three times the normal amount of breakdowns in the region.

Michelle Mitchell of the charity Age UK said that the elderly can be unaware how seriously their body temperature has fallen in the cold weather.

‘Low temperatures raise blood pressure, which puts people at a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as increasing the likelihood and severity of flu and other respiratory problems,’ she said.

February is traditionally the coldest month with a daytime average of 6.3c (43.3f) and night-time low of 0.6c (33f), but temperatures are expected to stay well below average all weekend.


Clucking freezing: But these chickens will keeping warm in their very own woolly jumpers at Green Meadow Animal Sanctuary, Pattingham, Wolverhampton


Looking cool, but keeping warm: Chickens model their cold weather gear with panache for the cameras

As temperatures drop, a survey by price comparison website uSwitch.com found that eight in ten are rationing their energy use for fear of running up high bills.

Big increases in tariffs in the autumn which added around £224 to the average household energy bill, taking it to around £1,300, have made many pensioners, families and others fearful about turning on the heating.

The survey suggests 19.5million households have gone cold to keep their winter energy costs down. This is up by 5.3million on a year ago.

Pet charity The Blue Cross has warned pet owners to protect their animals from gritter salt and antifreeze, after several cats died from salt toxicity during the last icy snap.


Anyone fancy an open top bus tour through Rome? That Italian capital was hit by its first snowfall in 26 years stopping visitors from entering the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors

In the last few days a cat also died from suspected antifreeze poisoning. Mark Bossley, Blue Cross chief vet said: ‘If it is icy outside and salt is being used to grit your local streets it is wise to keep your cat indoors.

'Salt is poisonous to cats and it can easily get on their paws or fur and be swallowed when they groom themselves. Watch out for antifreeze too, cats seem to like the taste but it is highly toxic to them.

'Be vigilant, if your cat appears to be ill always contact your vet as quickly as possible.’

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Vintage Vamp
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  Quote Bren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Feb 2012 at 16:20
some lovely pictures, it is cold here in Liverpool but not icy looking at Met office think it is the Eastern side of the country who will get the brunt of it though does say we will have some snow showers tomorrow - but it will be 8 by Sunday.

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Rampant Rabbit Fan
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  Quote Thess Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Feb 2012 at 19:02
Bren, i understand your poorly sick. hope you feel better soon. Take care. x
Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.
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