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Britain and France hit by freezing temperatures

posted 26 Nov 2010, 09:41 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 26 Nov 2010, 09:43 ]

Early wintry weather brings snow to Britain and western France.

Freezing weather and snow hit western France and Britain on Friday (November 26) as a cold snap swept much of northwestern Europe bringing weather conditions and temperatures that are more common at the height of winter than in late November.

Britain is braced for a freezing fortnight, with motorists warned to be wary on roads as sub-zero temperatures turn rain, sleet and snow to ice.

The unusually cold weather is set to last into next week, and Northern Ireland, west Wales and southwest England will bear the brunt of it.

The Met Office also issued heavy snow warnings for northern and northeast Scotland, as well as Britain's east coast.

Overnight, the coldest place was Carterhouse in the Scottish Borders, where the mercury dropped to minus 7.8 C, while temperatures in Kew Gardens in London sank to as low as minus 3.8.

Weather Forecaster Martyn Davies warned it could get even colder next week.

"There's no sign of it ending. Our forecasts go right, well into next week, there's no sign of anything less cold than it is so there are more snow showers to come, more frosty nights, more icy roads to deal with and it's likely to get worse before it gets better," said Davies.

"As we get into Tuesday and Wednesday there are signs of much colder, would you believe, much colder winds coming from the east. Particularly across the southern half of Britain so we could have bitter and very strong east winds. Wind chill temperatures could be down around minus 10 our lower during Tuesday and Wednesday and those winds may bring more snow too, even to the south," added Davies.

A spokesman for the AA said the number of call-outs on Friday morning had nearly doubled to around 1,600 per hour compared with the average for a Friday in November as drivers had difficulty starting their cars.

Schools in the areas hardest-hit were closed for a second day, with 80 shut in Aberdeenshire and 24 in Northumberland.

The wintry conditions may have been behind an incident at Newcastle airport on Thursday (November 25) evening, where a passenger plane overshot the runway.

The inhabitants of Brittany woke up to a smattering of snow as traffic struggled with icy conditions and local inhabitants opened their bags of grit early, worried that they will face a repeat of the extremely cold weather seen last year.

French weather authority Meteo France has declared a severe weather warning in several regions, with temperatures expected to fall five degrees below freezing point.