A band of cold weather has brought snow and ice to large parts of the country – with some regions at risk of ‘thundersnow’ as winter tightens its grip.
Yellow warnings of ice are to remain in place across most of the United Kingdom throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday, as cold air moves in behind the rain.
Showers are forecast to continue to bring rain, sleet or snow at times, although significant flurries are expected to remain limited to higher ground.
When thunderstorms occur during the snowy weather, it can lead to a rare phenomenon called thundersnow.
Thundersnow is caused in the same way thunder and lightning are triggered during the warmer months, when a pocket of warm air at ground level rises and collides with the colder air above it. Thus, in the cooler winter months, the country is pelted with snow. When thundersnow occurs at night, the lightning appears brighter – a consequence of it reflecting off the snowflakes.
Temperatures in London and Cardiff are expected to peak at 5C, while Birmingham will see highs of 3C and 2C in Edinburgh.
Highways England warned motorists that it was snowing “quite heavily” on the M62 trans-Pennine route, where efforts were underway to keep the road open using ploughs and salt.
On the M6, snow caused the closure of the southbound entry slip-road at junction four overnight, although the road was reopened in the early hours.
Meanwhile a fleet of 32 gritters was out in south west Scotland where road management network Transerv described conditions as “baltic”.
Some light snow was also seen in south east England, as the wintry front moved through from the north west.
Met Office meteorologist Sophie Yeomans said: “Most of the country is in the colder and showery air. The snow is mainly on the hills, while for most places the showers are falling as rain and maybe a bit of sleet.
“We’ve got some ice warnings; the weather front that has gone through has left rain on the ground, so as the air temperatures start to drop ground temperatures will be below zero and that’s giving the risk of ice across most of the UK.
“So look out for any areas where the surfaces haven’t been treated. On untreated surfaces there’s a risk of slips and falls.
“There’s also a risk of some icy surfaces on any untreated roads.”