UK weather: Snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures forecast

Temperatures are expected to drop overnight across the country

Snow-covered rooftops on December 12 in London. Getty
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Ice, snow and low temperatures are forecast for much of the UK, while a “huge operation” is under way to contain flooding in areas affected by recent rain.

A yellow warning for ice across the centre of the UK has been put in place by the Met Office, with hundreds of flood warnings in place and temperatures forecast to drop below zero in most places overnight.

Hill snow is predicted for central areas with rain sweeping over the south, while snowfall is expected to hit northern areas on Sunday evening.

Temperatures are expected to drop overnight to minus 2ºC in London, minus 1ºC in Cardiff, and minus 3ºC in Edinburgh and Belfast, while Highland areas of Scotland could see minus 10ºC.

Ian Withers, an Environment Agency worker for 30 years, said a “huge operation” is under way to control overflowing rivers in Somerset — an area particularly prone to flooding because it is below sea level.

Mr Withers told the PA news agency that water levels in several rivers are “higher than the land around them” and surrounding moors are being used as “reservoirs” to contain the overspill.

“The situation at the moment is, catchments are just extremely wet and saturated," said the duty manager for the Wessex area.

“I think we’ve seen the worst of this wet weather pass through and we’ve got a few more settled days ahead, which is really helpful.

“But as a consequence of all the rain we’ve had over the last week or so, the big rivers — the Severn, the Avon, the Wye — they’re so full with water, and that water has now got to work its way out of the estuaries into the sea.

“While they’re still high those pockets of flood risk will remain.”

Snow blankets the UK, with more wintry weather to come - in pictures

Mr Withers said up to 20 homes had been flooded in Wessex, and Environment Agency workers from Yorkshire had been drafted in to help prevent further damage.

He said residents in some towns invested in their own flood defences to ensure protection from encroaching water, even if it reached their windows.

Mr Withers believed the flooding was the latest example of “a changing climate in the shape of seasonal extremes” and “society as a whole needs to think about how much it is prepared to spend” on mitigation measures.

The government spent £2.6 billion ($3.2bn) on flood resilience between 2015 and 2021, and it will spend double this funding over the next five years, he said.

Pensioner Jilly Jay, 65, who lives in the Somerset town of Taunton, told PA that the River Tone was “pouring over the bank in places” and the flooding in her area was “pretty bad”.

Meanwhile, Cardiff resident Pam French said water damage in the city was almost as bad as it had been in the February 2020 deluge.

Ms French said that the city’s park run had been cancelled on Saturday, with the route inundated.

Weather warnings issued in the UK - in pictures

A large Met Office yellow warning for ice covers Wales and the Wessex area until 10am on Monday, along with Northern Ireland, southern Scotland, northern England, northern Wales and the Midlands.

The national forecaster has also issued a lengthy yellow warning for snow and ice across northern Scotland, from 2pm on Sunday through to 10am on Wednesday.

Another warning for snow across parts of south-east England has been issued for Monday, lasting from 2am until 8am.

Met Office meteorologist Craig Snell warned those driving to work on Monday to leave plenty of time for their journeys, as the worst of the ice is expected during rush hour.

Heavy rain causes flooding in parts of the UK - in pictures

“We could well see some wintry showers develop tonight across the middle band of the UK, with a risk of snow on high ground and slippery surfaces on lower areas,” Mr Snell said.

“This could be a problem during rush hour. It could cause a few problems on the roads. The risk of flooding is still there.”

He said that while “cold and wintry weather” coming from the Arctic is set to “dominate the UK” through the week, the weekend looks milder.

“Compared to the cold spell in December, it doesn’t look like it’s going to last as long,” Mr Snell said.

Earlier, flood defences, including boarding, were used in York city centre.

The City of York Council said it had taken the measures to keep the area “safe and open” as it urged visitors to plan their journeys in advance.

Rescue workers used a boat in the centre of York after the River Ouse burst its banks.

The Environment Agency had issued 98 flood warnings and 180 flood alerts in England as of Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued three flood warnings for areas of the Scottish Borders, Tayside and Ayrshire and Arran, along with two milder alerts for West Central Scotland.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 6:29 AM