Amber alert for snow issued as Arctic blast tightens icy grip on Britain with temperature dropping to -14C in parts of the UK

Wednesday 17 January 2024

People in northern Scotland have been warned to expect further disruption as an amber alert for snow was issued following the UK’s coldest night of the winter so far.

The mercury fell to minus 14C in Dalwhinnie in the Highlands on Tuesday night, according to provisional recordings by the Met Office, reportedly the lowest January temperature in Britain since 2019.

The Met Office has issued amber warnings for snow between 3pm on Wednesday and 6pm on Thursday in north-west Scotland and the Northern Isles, meaning road delays are likely and some vehicles could be stranded.

Hundreds of schools area again shut in Scotland on Wednesday amid the wintry weather and motorists are advised to drive with care due to “tricky” conditions.

All council schools and nurseries in Shetland and Orkney are shut, while 144 are closed in the Highlands and about 90 in Aberdeenshire, while others delayed opening times.

The Met Office amber warning forecasts some areas could see an extra 15-20cm of snow, meaning power cuts are likely and more remote communities are at risk of being cut off.

Yellow weather warnings of snow and ice have been updated, with much of Scotland, northern England, parts of Wales and Northern Ireland covered on Wednesday, and southern and central Scotland affected by an ice warning.

Icicles hang from a bridge at the Killhope slate mine in County Durham

In County Durham temperatures dropped as low as -8C

Snow covers the ground at the Killhope slate mine in County Durham

On Thursday parts of western and northern Scotland, north east and eastern England, Wales and Northern Ireland are affected by a snow and ice warning.

Forecasters had predicted some snow-covered parts of Scotland could reach minus 15C overnight into Wednesday, which would have been the coldest January night for 14 years, when minus 22.3C was recorded in 2010.

While temperatures did not drop as low as that, Tuesday night did mark the coldest night this winter so far, beating the minus 12.5C daily minimum temperature recorded at Altnaharra in the Highlands on December 3.

Freezing temperatures and snow will continue for much of Britain this week due to a blast of Arctic air, before “potentially disruptive” stormy weather lands over the weekend.

A “cold plunge of Arctic air” has moved south across the whole country over the past few days, making it 5C to 6C lower than usual for this time of year, the Met Office said.

The weekend will be milder, but westerly weather will bring wind and rain – and the potential for more weather warnings as the snow melts.

The UK Government has confirmed thousands of households in England and Wales are eligible for cold weather payments.

The payments go to those living in an area where the average temperature is recorded as, or forecast to be, 0C or below over seven consecutive days.