Mar 22 2013
Britain faces a day of severe disruption as heavy snow, flooding and blizzard conditions blight the country.
Emergency services are already responding to a surge in weather-related call-outs with Government agencies issuing a string of warnings urging the public to take care on the roads.
More flooding is expected in the south-west as Thursday's heavy rain continues to pour throughout the day and overnight.
Snow is expected to blanket everywhere north of the M4 corridor, with up to eight inches hitting the worst affected areas of north-west of England, North Wales and south-west of Scotland.
Higher areas could even see up to 16 inches fall, while bitterly cold gale force winds will sweep across Britain creating blizzard-like conditions and plunging temperatures down to well below freezing.
Heavy rain sweeping across Northern Ireland will turn increasingly to snow with up to 12 inches across the hills of Down and Antrim, while on the east coast rain and sleet could cause localised flooding.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has already reported road closures because of stranded vehicles on the A8 near Newtownabbey.
James Wilby, a forecaster for Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It is really just nasty conditions across most of the UK. The snow will fall from the M4 northwards, quite lightly in the south but heavily in the north. Along with the heavy rain and flooding in the south-west, there will no doubt be a lot of disruption for the UK today. The heavy rain, snow and strong winds will continue into the weekend, with the heavy snow spreading south to East Anglia and Bristol tomorrow. And I'm sorry to say that there is no sign of things getting any better next week, it's going to remain cold and bleak."
The Met Office has issued a number of severe weather warnings urging the public to be prepared for "severe disruption" to transport and energy services.
The Environment Agency has 18 flood alerts in place along the south-west coast warning of expected flooding, with a further 80 alerts issued to areas at risk. Between 1.6 to 2.4 inches is set to fall over southern Devon and Cornwall, and up to 4 inches on exposed southern slopes.