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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 22:32 GMT
Freezing conditions grip Britain
Playing in the snow in the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland
Snow is forecast for many areas on Tuesday
Temperatures as low as minus 10C are set to embrace the UK overnight, with harsh frosts across the country.

The freezing weather will mean dangerous driving conditions on the roads, with black ice and snow causing problems for drivers.

Weather forecasters say rush-hour driving conditions on Tuesday could be difficult, while the AA has reported a sharp rise in the number of breakdown calls.

Police warned motorists not to defrost cars by leaving them unattended with the engines running, after a series of opportunist thefts.

And the charity Help the Aged said: "As the cold weather bites... poor housing and damp conditions are causing the unnecessary deaths of thousands of older people."

'Very icy'

On Monday night the Scottish glens will see the lowest temperatures, but many cities will fare little better.

[Monday night] is going to be very icy again, with a harsh frost

Helen Young
Glasgow will have temperatures of minus 5C, while Manchester will reach minus 4C and Birmingham minus 3C.

The BBC weather centre said that even London - which will be the warmest place in the country - will not see temperatures above freezing.

Forecaster Helen Young said snow was possible in the south-west overnight and in parts of East Anglia and the south-east.

She said: "Monday night is going to be very icy again, with a harsh frost.

"It's going to be quite a difficult rush-hour on Tuesday morning, particularly for East Anglia and the south-east, which could see up to two centimetres of snow."

'Good news'

Snow is also likely to fall on the south coast and in Northern Ireland overnight, although it is likely to be only one or two centimetres deep.

Elsewhere biting winds will make sure that everybody knows winter has well and truly arrived.

"This will go on right the way through this week," Helen Young added.

"It will get slightly less cold as we head into Friday and it will also stay dry, which is good news for all those people who had flooding."

Stolen cars

One Cumbrian village is spending a second night without gas supplies amid freezing conditions.

Up to 800 homes in Kirkby Lonsdale lost their gas supply on Sunday.

Dozens of Transco engineers were at the scene working to restore the supply and distribute electric heaters and cooking hobs.

Cold weather has forced the cancellation of races at Sedgefield and Leicester on Tuesday, but a meeting at the all weather track at Lingfield was expected to go ahead.

Police in Greater Manchester said they were looking for at least seven stolen cars after they were taken as the owners left them to defrost on Monday.

Insurance companies warned they would not be paying out as the owners had broken their contracts.

Breathing space

For many of those affected by last week's extensive floods the cold weather is providing a breathing space.

River water levels are subsiding but the Environment Agency still had 134 flood warnings in place on Monday.

Yalding, Kent
Flooding caused havoc over New Year
Worst affected was the Thames region with 39 warnings, many in Oxfordshire.

Roads in Oxford and Norfolk flooded overnight on Sunday and became extremely dangerous as ice formed on them.

Two main roads into Oxford city centre were closed.

Flooding between Didcot and Oxford stopped rail services, with lines between London Paddington, Reading and Oxford services also affected.

'Needless deaths'

A spokeswoman for Help the Aged warned that many older people would not live through the cold snap.

She said bad housing and insufficient heating aggravated circulatory diseases, which lead to strokes or heart attacks and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

The charity estimated that last winter more than 25,000 older people died from preventable causes.

"Broadly put, for each degree colder it becomes, mortality rises by one to two per cent, underlining the urgent need to prevent such needless deaths," the spokeswoman added.

See also:

06 Jan 03 | England
05 Jan 03 | UK
04 Jan 03 | UK
04 Jan 03 | UK
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