The blizzards are back: Foot of snow on way as cold snap looks likely to last until New Year

Heavy snowstorms and ice will bring chaos to the transport network today as a second cold snap grips the country.

A foot of snow is predicted in parts of the UK, while much of Central England will suffer blizzards that could continue until the New Year.

Overnight temperatures as low as -15C will turn snow to ice and 30mph easterly winds could cause drifts on roads in Wales, forecasters said.

Fog shrouds a statue of Billy Fury at the historic Albert Dock

Liverpool: Fog shrouds a statue of Billy Fury at the historic Albert Dock

Richmond Park

A stag in Richmond Park where the Bank Holiday brought mild weather.

Flights were cancelled today and motorists were warned to check the forecast before taking to the roads, prompting fears that the UK could grind to a halt for the second time in days.

Freezing fog today saw flights into Liverpool's John Lennon Airport diverted to Doncaster and East Midlands airports, leaving travellers stranded as they tried to make the Bank Holiday journey home to start work after the Christmas break.

Visibility was down to less than 1,000 feet on the runway as the airport cancelled one outbound flight and said it could not rule out further cancellations.

In Wales, where a foot of snow is expected on higher ground today and tomorrow, passengers due to fly from Cardiff Airport have been advised to expect delays.

Enlarge   weather

The Met Office issued early severe weather warnings for Wales and the West Midlands, with the chance of disruption to transport and power supplies 'likely'.

In Scotland, up to six inches of snow in the Highlands, Tayside and Strathclyde combined with overnight temperatures as low as -16C, making roads perilously icy.

The snow, sleet and ice that brought much of the country to a standstill in the week up to Christmas had relented in the past three days, meaning the second spell of bad weather could come as a blow to motorists who delayed seeing family until later in the festive season.

Much of South England will escape the heavy snow, with the south coast set to bask in comparatively balmy temperatures of around 10C today.

But Wales and the Midlands will be hit by blizzards after driving rain and freezing fog spread north from the south of the country last night, forecasters warned.


Police closed the A9 to all northbound traffic picture at the north end of Dunblane as police redirect northbound traffic south to an alternative route

The Welsh Government has prepared contingency plans to keep main roads open and supply local councils with salt for the roads, a spokesman said.

The snow storms are likely to spread from the Midlands into the north of England tomorrow (Weds) before beginning to head south again on Thursday, replacing heavy rain in the South-East in time for the New Year.

Snow may hit London by the midnight chimes on January 1, it was predicted, leaving New Year plans in disarray.

Daytime temperatures will plunge to -3C throughout most of England and Wales on New Year's Eve and hover around the freezing mark the following day.

Paul Knightley, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said a system moving in from the Atlantic on Monday evening would meet colder air, forming snow.

Drivers are already being warned that their New Year plans may be thrown into disarray during the second cold snap of the festive season.

'Across higher ground in central and south Wales, we can expect to see heavy snow - 20 to 30cm, or up to a foot, by Tuesday lunchtime, with strong winds pushing it higher in drifts,' Mr Knightley said.

'Tuesday is going to be a nasty day across much of Wales.

Enlarge   The Maldon Mud Race took part in Essex yesterday, with 250 participants raising money for the Rotary Club

The Maldon Mud Race took part in Essex yesterday, with 250 participants raising money for the Rotary Club

'We can also expect to see falls of 5 to 10cm (2-4 inches) in parts of the Midlands. We are not sure how far north or how far south this snow could fall. Southern counties may have some snow on Tuesday morning, but not enough to settle.'

He warned drivers to be on their guard against the new falls.

'It's quite a big snowfall, probably the biggest fall of this cold spell, in Wales,' he said. 'It's particularly badly timed because people will going back to work after the weekend break.

'There could be problems anywhere in Wales, or large parts of central and southern England, in the next 48 to 72 hours - people should check forecasts before going out.'

The Welsh Assembly Government said contingency plans were ready to keep main roads open in extreme weather.

Its stock of salt for motorways has been made available as a reserve supply to help councils grit roads.

A spokeswoman said: 'The assembly currently holds enough stocks to last approximately one and a half years at normal salting levels on its roads.

'Hence, approximately half its stock can be used as a reserve for other authorities should the need arise.

'We have contingency plans in place in the event of extreme weather to ensure the main roads are kept open and also have encouraged unitary authorities to put in place mutual aid arrangements.'

Passengers due to fly from Cardiff Airport tomorrow were advised to check flights were on schedule if there was snow.

Steve Hodgetts, the airport's business development director, said: 'The plans are already in place and have already been in operation earlier this month.

'Whether or not there are any delays depends on how severe the snow is.

'It will very much depend on the weather generally across the UK. We will react accordingly, but the plans are already in place.'

The track at Chepstow Racecourse was inspected four times because of frost today before the Welsh National race meeting could go ahead.

The forecast follows a spell of snow, sleet and ice which has gripped the UK for more than a week but relented in most parts over recent days.

Mr Knightley said: 'It looks like it will be remaining cold until at least next weekend.'