Britain braces for coldest night of the year

The UK is set to have its coldest night of the year as Arctic air causes the mercury to plummet on Thursday night.

Temperatures below minus 13C (8.6F) are expected in parts of Scotland and heavy snow is predicted to fall on Friday in the east Midlands, North West and Yorkshire.

The Met Office predicts accumulations of up to 10cm (4ins) are likely and up to 15cm (6ins) could fall over higher ground.

“Travel delays on roads are likely, stranding some vehicles and passengers. Some delays and cancellations to rail and air travel are likely,” the Met Office warned.

“There is a possibility that some rural communities could become temporarily cut off. Power cuts may also occur.”

Long queues on the M4

Image: There were long queues on the M4 on Wednesday

A yellow warning for snow has also been issued for southern and eastern Scotland, northern England and the Midlands.

Met Office spokeswoman Nicola Maxey said: “The coldest temperature we have seen this year is minus 13C in Scotland, and we are likely to see temperatures slightly below that,” she added.

“But we are not talking about those extremes in the town and city centres, it is out in rural areas, more exposed areas, particularly over lying snow where you see temperatures drop the most.”

On Wednesday, cancellations and delays caused by bad weather caused chaos at various travel terminals.

Hundreds of passengers have been stranded after flights were cancelled due to icy weather

Image: Hundreds of passengers were stranded after flights were cancelled due to icy weather

Stansted temporarily closed its runway twice due to ice, resulting in 27 inbound and 27 outbound flights being cancelled.

Around 50 flights were also cancelled at Luton.

Roughly 300 passengers were left in the terminal at Stansted waiting to rebook flights on Wednesday evening after dozens of Ryanair services were cancelled, along with a number of easyJet flights.

A lorry stuck on the A14 in Northampton

Image: A lorry was stuck on the A14 in Northampton

Lana Briggs, who had flown into Stansted from Dublin, told Sky News her aircraft was held on the runway for an hour and she was not told when her luggage would be unloaded.

She said: “People are talking about it turning into a riot if we don’t get more information. I’m sure it’s not going to happen but it does feel pretty devastating at the moment. It’s definitely tense.”

Heavy snow also caused disruption on the roads.

The RAC said it saw a 15-20% spike in call-outs on Wednesday compared with the same time last year.

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A stranded car lies in a ditch after snow fall in Stanford on Avon

Image: A stranded car lay in a ditch after snow fall in Stanford on Avon

An AA spokesman said it had dealt with 8,000 breakdowns by lunchtime, which was “significantly more than a normal Wednesday in winter”.

The latest cold snap comes around a fortnight after hundreds of schools were closed, homes were left without power, and travellers were stranded or forced to stay indoors when a deep freeze gripped the UK.