Weather forecasters have warned of a “polar plunge” as 4 inches of snow are forecast for the UK in high areas, with an inch of snow on lower ground.
The Met Office said air bowing in from the North Pole will bring the most snow of the winter so far, with temperatures at night expected to verge near -11C.
Warnings are in place across the south of England, the Midlands and the north, as well as Wales and central and western parts of Scotland.
An amber level three Government health warning has been issued in the north where hospitals are expected to be busier than usual, with the colder conditions expected to last at least three weeks.
Snow flurries are likely to begin at 9pm tonight and continue through the night bringing freezing temperatures and the threat of ice.
A Met Office forecaster said: “A band of rain, sleet and snow will move eastwards through the day and overnight bringing accumulations in some places. Snow in eastern England will gradually clear on Wednesday.”
Here’s the latest #Snowdar ❄️ Rain, sleet and snow has arrived from the west. Any snow in the south will be over the hills this morning, but possible to lower levels later 🌧️🌨️ pic.twitter.com/RSzzplswR6
— Met Office (@metoffice) January 29, 2019
Travel chaos is predicted with ice on roads as 2,000 gritters are at the ready to battle roads, with the RAC predicting a 20 per cent increase in breakdowns.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams told The Sun: “The worst cold weather travel chaos since last winter’s Beast from the East is expected.
“Try to avoid travelling in the worst conditions – and if you must travel, pack a blanket, shovel and food in case you get stuck.”
The RAC have put together a list of useful tips for battling the snow during this weather including how to prepare your car for the cold weather and driving in icy conditions.
.@themetoffice have forecast #Snow and #Ice over the next two days. Please make sure you are checking our driving advise which will be landing over the next 24 hours and feel free to ask any questions – Drive safe 👍 pic.twitter.com/4T29Biybho
— The RAC (@TheRAC_UK) January 29, 2019
There is likely to be disruption on the railways as well, with rail firms ready to run empty “ghost trains” to clear snow and ice from the lines. Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport has 185 snowploughs at the ready.
A Met Office spokesperson also said: “Some roads and railways are likely to be affected, with longer journey times by road, bus and train.”
The Met office issued a severe weather warning for the next few days and told The Sun: “We are looking at a fairly unsettled week with a mix of rain, snow, sleet and gales.
“There’s a potential for disruptive snow in some parts of the country, particularly in the South East area on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“In the South between 1-3cm is likely to accumulate quite widely on the ground, with up to 10cm in hilly areas such as the Chilterns.
“Temperatures will dip this week to as low as -8C tonight in Aberdeen, and could sink to -10C in Belfast on Wednesday. But the more widely felt temperatures will be at around -2C.”
February could also be the coldest for seven years as lows of -14C were forecast by The Weather Company.
Spokesperson Leon Brown said: “Well under -15C will be possible with cold air established and high pressure.”
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