England woke to its coldest morning of the year on the last day of 2020 as temperatures plummeted to -7.5 ° C and forecasters warned of further heavy snowfalls, bitter wintry showers and widespread frost.
Mercury could plunge to -12 ° C (10 ° F) in Scotland this morning and again Saturday evening as the Met Office warned that "colder-than-average" conditions are expected to last until the end of next month.
A snow and ice warning will remain in effect for much of northern England and much of Scotland through 2pm today, while a separate snow and ice warning for northern Scotland will expire at 11am today.
An ice warning on the southern tip of England also remains in effect until 11 a.m. It can cause surfaces to freeze quickly after downpours and injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces.
There is also still a flood risk to more than 100 areas of the country after further rain to 106 km / h followed Storm Bella last weekend. The Environment Agency has issued 31 flood warnings and 70 warnings across England.
For those who see New Years fireworks tonight, most of the UK will have a light cloud, although it will rain across Scotland sinking into northern England overnight and reaching Wales and the Midlands at dawn.
There will be more snow next week. The Met Office warns of “mountain snow, but with the possibility that the snow will temporarily fall to a lower level”, together with the risk of frost, freezing fog and “very cold night temperatures”.
A spreader with a plow drives down Chorley New Road in Horwich, Greater Manchester this morning after another heavy snowfall
Heavy snow is falling in Horwich, Greater Manchester early this morning and much of the country is still under weather warnings
A spreader is driving down a street in Horwich, Greater Manchester today after the Met Office warned of dangers on the streets
A pedestrian walks a snow covered path this morning after heavy snowfall overnight in Horwich, Greater Manchester
The Met Office's long-term forecast assumes that conditions "colder than average" will persist through at least January 26, with Scotland facing the greatest risk of prolonged snowfall in early 2021.
This morning temperatures dropped to -7.5 ° C (18.5 ° F) in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, a record for a morning in England in 2020, while in Edinburgh they dropped to -6 ° C (21 ° F) and dropped to -5 ° C (23 ° F) in Thetford, Norfolk and -4C (25F) in Bristol.
Met Office forecaster Clare Nasir reported a “very cold start” to the last day of 2020, adding, “New Year's Eve will again bring the risk of rain, sleet and snow, another trait shared by Northern Scotland from sliding across the country. & # 39;
She continued, “Especially inland and over the hills we will see some snow. Many of us will see brighter weather with still strong breezes keeping things very cold, and again the risk of ice as we approach New Years Day, with again a wintry mix that comes and goes and one pretty widespread frost. & # 39;
Snow is falling in the town of Horwich, Greater Manchester, this morning as travel warnings remain in place across the region
A car drives through snowy conditions in Horwich, Greater Manchester today, with the area under a warning from the Met Office
Ice on car windshields in West London this morning as temperatures in the capital plunged below zero overnight
Temperatures were below freezing in most areas in the early hours of the morning (left) and still below zero for some by 8 a.m. (right).
Much of the UK today has weather warnings (left) with temperatures between 2 ° C and 6 ° C (right).
Temperatures across the UK are expected to be between 2 ° C and 6 ° C during the day today. Yesterday was the coldest night of winter in Great Britain so far with a low of -10.2 ° C in Dalwhinnie in the Scottish highlands.
"Truly remarkable" 2020 will be in the top ten for sunshine and rain
2020 was celebrated as a “really remarkable” weather year after recording the sunniest spring and wettest February ever.
The Met Office said the “Year of Extremes” in the UK was well on its way to becoming the third or fourth warmest year on record, making it into the top 10 in both rain and shine. In addition to a summer heat wave, there was also an October day in 2020 when the precipitation records were broken.
Ahead of the full-year figures released on Jan. 4, the Met Office said the data made it clear that the general trend of warming as a result of climate change is observable not only on a global scale, but also on our own national temperature records ".
In its summary of the year, the Met Office said, “The most notable winter month was February. Due to a rapid succession of named storms, rainfall was well above normal practically everywhere, and many locations received more than three times the expected average.
& # 39; It was the wettest February ever (records until 1862), with the UK recording 237% of its average rainfall. It was also the fifth wettest of any calendar month on record. & # 39;
Dr. Mark McCarthy, director of the Met Office's National Climate Information Center, said: “We have seen a number of exceptionally humid winters over the past decade and, due to climate change, we expect winters in the UK to be wetter. Of the 10 wettest winters, four have occurred since 2007 and seven since 1990, while total precipitation on extremely wet days has increased 17 percent. In just over a decade, we've seen the wettest of February (2020), April (2012), June (2012), November (2009) and December (2015) in the UK, remarkable new national records in five months out of twelve. & # 39;
All four UK countries had their sunniest spring, according to Met Office records for 1919. Only three summers (1976, 1989 and 1995) recorded more hours of sunshine.
Dr. McCarthy added: “In climate statistics, 2019 will be remembered for the UK's hottest day, while 2020 will be associated with rainfall records. Saturday October 3rd, the day after Storm Alex, proves to be the record for the wettest day in Britain in dates dating back to 1891. 2020 also has the third wettest day with the rainfall associated with Storm Dennis in February. & # 39;
Met Office host Alex Deakin said, “2020 will be remembered for many, many things, and the weather should be one of them. There are still a few days left so we don't know exactly where 2020 will be. But it will be another very warm year, very likely in the five warmest years of all time. It's also very likely to make it into the top 10 during the sunniest, wettest years, a truly remarkable year. & # 39;
Although the AA said regional restrictions due to Covid-19 meant the roads were quieter than normal, bitterly cold conditions that continue through to this day and into the New Year will pose an ongoing risk of ice for drivers.
Tonight it is the first time since 2009 that temperatures in Hogmanay in Scotland are below -9 ° C.
Conditions have sparked fears of travel chaos, including the risk of ice building up on the £ 1.35 billion Queensferry Crossing and potentially forcing it to close.
Retirement groups are also encouraging people to look out for older neighbors who may have trouble heating their homes.
Met Office meteorologist Ollie Claydon said of the forecast for Scotland: “We expect readings to be -12 ° C (10 ° F) overnight through Thursday morning. At Hogmanay and New Year's Day, the countryside could be -10 ° C (14 ° F), especially where there is snow on the ground.
& # 39; Even cities will drop below zero, with -4C (25F) expected in Glasgow when the clock strikes 12 at Hogmanay. But the mercury will continue to drop on Saturday evening when -12 ° C is expected in the countryside. & # 39;
The last time similarly low New Years temperatures were observed was in December 2009 when mercury dropped to -18 ° C in Braemar, Aberdeenshire.
In Inverness-shire, committed wild swimmer Nicky Goode had to break the ice yesterday before taking a cool dip in Loch Insh.
Meanwhile, a rare phenomenon known as "ice pancakes" was forming on Dunbeath Water near Latheronwheel, Caithness. The frozen disks often occur in very cold oceans and lakes and are often found in the Baltic region.
Towards the end of 2020, the last full moon of the year shone with a clear sky. Despite the natural beauty of the season, the dangers of winter were remembered.
Elderly people in Ardrossan, Ayrshire, were trapped in their homes with no food because untreated sidewalks had become "ice rinks" before Salvation Army volunteers stepped in to provide essential goods for retirees.
Last night Age Scotland asked people to take care of the elderly during the cold spell.
Charity Director Adam Stachura said, “With strict restrictions in place in many areas, we are less likely to see older family members, friends and neighbors in person, but it is important to keep in touch.
“Shopping or collecting recipes, or even just calling or chatting on the doorstep, if possible, to check if someone is okay, can make all the difference. This sense of connection can also be a lifeline for those who feel isolated and lonely.
"With these frigid conditions expected to last a few weeks, we can all help look out for older, more vulnerable members of our communities and ensure they stay warm and healthy this winter and beyond."
Citizens Advice Scotland is also reporting increasing demand for energy advice across the country as temperatures plummet.
In the Highlands, drivers have been criticized for leaving carrots on the side of the road to feed deer. The animals are attracted to graze near the A82 in Kingshouse, Inverness-shire, which is a danger to traffic – especially at night.
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