Police have warned people against travel in parts of the UK as heavy snow and ice are set to continue through the week amid a bitterly cold snap brought on by Storm Darcy.
Met Office yellow warnings for snow and ice are in force until Wednesday across much of England and Scotland, where snowfall is expected to cause long delays on roads as well as affecting rail and air travel.
Large build-ups of snow are also expected in parts of central Scotland, where a higher amber warning is in place ahead of showers forecast during Monday night and Tuesday.
Up to 30cm is set to fall in the worst affected regions, with between 5cm and 10cm expected fairly widely across east of the UK, which has already seen two days of snow in areas including southeast England and London, where amber wearnings were in place on Monday.
Police forces in parts of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex told drivers not to travel as roads became “impassable” due to settled snow on Monday.
Road closures were announced in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire and Hertfordshire.
Suffolk Highways said conditions were “worsening”, comparing the recent weather to the “Beast from the East” of 2018.
In Norfolk, one driver had to be dug out of his car after it got trapped in a snowdrift.
Victoria Lawrence told the PA news agency her husband Steve had been driving through Southrepps to pick up his father for a hospital appointment when he got stuck at 5.45am. She added: “It’s just drifted over the car since. Thankfully a friend dug him out and he is now having a much-needed cup of tea.”
People in Kent were told to expect slower traffic, with police echoing many forces around the country in warning drivers only to travel “if necessary”.
The AA said the “treacherous driving conditions” led to “numerous” accidents on UK roads on Monday.
Spokesman Ben Sheridan said: “Roads will be lethal where snow and ice has hit the UK.
“If you must travel, reduce your speed to account for the conditions and leave plenty of space behind other vehicles.
“Don't forget to clear snow from the windows, lights and roof of the car so you can see and be seen, and watch out for black ice and compacted snow, especially in rural areas.”
Meanwhile, National Rail has told train passengers that services across the country are likely to be affected by the conditions.
The firm said “it may be necessary to close some routes”, and urged customers to travel “later in the morning”.
Southern Rail announced service cancellations in southeast London, while networks in Kent and Essex have closed train lines.
Several Covid-19 vaccination centres remain closed, including: Clacton Hospital, Colchester United’s stadium, Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich and Chevington Close in Bury St Edmunds.
A number of schools were closed across the southeast of England and Lincolnshire.
Yellow snow and ice warnings are also in place for much of the rest of the UK, with people told to expect “frequent” wintry showers that “may lead to travel disruption in places”.
The warnings, stretching across northern England to Belfast in Northern Ireland and down to the southeast of England, says “rural communities could become cut off”.
Temperatures are expected to plummet below 0C for most of the UK.
The Met Office said: “Strong easterly winds will make it feel bitterly cold across much of the UK, with further snow showers feeding westwards.
“These showers merging into some longer spells of snow over some eastern areas, whilst always drier and brighter further west.”
Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the whole of the country, saying it could have “a serious impact on health”.
Dr Owen Landeg, of PHE, said: “For older people and those with heart and lung problems, it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.”
The bitter, cold conditions are driven by strong easterly winds from Ukraine and the Black Sea combining with a weather front named Storm Darcy by the Dutch meteorological office.
The snow storm is also affecting the Netherlands and parts of Germany with widespread disruption to transport links, in particular rail transport.
The Netherlands cancelled all its train services, including ones across the border to Germany, as the country a declared a “code red” weather emergency.