Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

No respite as UK hit by coldest night of winter

Map showing snow across UK

The UK has suffered its coldest night of the winter so far with temperatures plummeting to -22.3C (-8.1F) in a village in Sutherland in the Highlands.

Overnight temperatures of -10C (14F) were widespread, leaving commuters again battling icy roads and pavements amid "stretched" road salt supplies.

Many schools remain shut, with rail and air travel again hit by delays. Fresh snow is falling in eastern England.

The weekend could be colder, as another week of Arctic conditions is forecast.

Up to 4,000 homes are without water after a main burst outside the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. The hospital was largely unaffected.

Thousands of schools remain shut, with warnings that some exam candidates could have to wait five months to sit GCSE and A-level modules in England, Wales and Northern Ireland if weather prevents them taking them next week.

Exams watchdog Ofqual said in cases where candidates would not have a second chance to sit papers in the summer, applications could be made for "special consideration".

This involves pupils disadvantaged by circumstances being awarded up to an extra 5% of the maximum marks.

Milk deliveries have also been disrupted, with tankers struggling to reach dairy farms.

Some farmers have had to dump supplies as few have storage facilities to hold more than a day's stock.

Hardy swimmers take the plunge in icy water at the Serpentine in London

Easyjet has cancelled about 30 flights at airports including Gatwick, Liverpool, Belfast and Stansted, while Norwich Airport has been closed.

British Airways said passengers should check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

Overnight it had asked passengers on some flights arriving at Heathrow's Terminal 5 to leave without their luggage, with bags being sent on to them later.

Train companies operating revised timetables include East Coast, ScotRail, First Great Western, South West Trains, Southern and Southeastern.

The breakdown of a train travelling from Brussels to London in the Channel Tunnel on Thursday has affected Eurostar services.

Supplies of road grit are close to running out in some areas, and many councils are restricting gritting to major roads.

Thieves using a lorry with heavy lifting-gear have stolen a grit bin with two tonnes of salt intended for streets and footpaths from a road in Newton Mearns outside Glasgow.

The Local Government Association admitted reserves were "stretched", while the government is helping suppliers prioritise areas most in need.

Get the latest on school closures and travel problems via your BBC Local website
Check if snow is forecast in your area at BBC Weather
Details of motorway and local road closures and public transport disruption are available at BBC Travel News
For advice on handling difficult driving conditions, see the Highways Agency website
For information about severe weather warnings, see the Met Office website
For information about staying healthy in the current cold snap, see the NHS Winter Health website

A three-vehicle smash was causing delays on the M9, near the Forth Road Bridge exit, and a lane of the anti-clockwise M25 had to be shut, south-west of London, after a crash.

Meanwhile, snow and ice forced the closure of a lane of the M58 near Kirkby in Merseyside and one in each direction on the M48 Severn Bridge.

Poor conditions have also closed the A4051 Bwlch Mountain Road, near Merthyr Tydfil, and the A542 Horsehoe Pass near Llangollen, Denbighshire.

Meanwhile, 27 firms - 12 in the East Midlands and 15 in the North West - are still using alternative fuels after National Grid told them to turn off their gas supply, with demand for energy soaring.

At one stage on Thursday, 95 major firms were affected.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn insisted there were "plenty of supplies" of gas, with storage about 70% full.

He said firms affected were on special contracts - paying less but losing supplies when demand was high - and that there was no need for domestic customers to worry.

Of some 5,000 homes in southern England which were without power throughout Thursday, all but "a few hundred" were reconnected overnight, energy suppliers said.

School closures

Up to 25,000 homes across the UK have been affected by power cuts since Wednesday, mostly because of trees bringing down electricity lines or ice weighing down power cables and triggering safety cut-offs.

Temperatures barely rose above freezing on Thursday, remaining between -8C and 0C in most parts of the UK.

The UK overnight low was recorded at Altnaharra, Sutherland. England's lowest temperature was -17C (1.4F) in Woodford, Cheshire.

Sennybridge in Powys was the coldest place in Wales at -14.7 (5.5F), while Northern Ireland's low was -11.1 (12F) at Lough Fea, County Tyrone.

The lowest ever recorded temperature in the UK was -27.2C (-17F) in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, in 1895 and 1982, and in Altnaharra in 1995.

Temperatures are expected to stay around freezing throughout Friday, with the treacherous conditions causing many schools to remain shut. They include:

  • Almost 800 - about half of the total - in Wales and about 20 in Northern Ireland
  • All schools in the Borders, Highland and West Lothian council areas, along with most in Aberdeenshire and Moray
  • More than 630 in north-western England, at least 310 across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, 400 in the north-east of England
  • Around 650 in the South West, nearly 2,000 in southern central England, 350 in Essex, 450 in Kent and 600 in East Anglia

The Department for Children, Schools and Families insists schools should stay open "wherever reasonably practicable" during severe weather.

A spokesman said the focus of government concern was solely on persistent, unauthorised absence.

It was up to head teachers to make "common-sense judgements" about whether to authorise a child's absence on the basis they could not get to school, he added.

Major disruption has already been caused to the sporting programme over the weekend.

Four matches in football's Championship have been called off, and only three fixtures survive in Leagues One and Two. Ten Scottish Cup games have fallen victim to the weather.

Horse racing and rugby union fixtures have also been hit.


The enhanced content on this page requires Javascript and Flash Player 9

UK forecast for 25/05/2022

Map Key

  • land colour Land
  • cloud colour Cloud
  • Lakes, Rivers & Sea colour Lakes, Rivers & Sea


Fog Colour Range


Frost Colour Range

Pressure Fronts

Cold Front Illustration
Warm Front Illustration
Occluded Front Illustration


Rain Colour Range


Snow Colour Range

Temperature tab only

Temperature (°C)

Temperature range chart

Are you affected by the "big freeze"? Send us a picture or a video showing how cold the temperature is where you live. Are you a sports fan? Has the cold weather affected your local club?

Send your pictures and videos to or text them to 61124. If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Phone number (optional):

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific