Big freeze will end in a windy washout: Sleet and gales are on the way with coldest day of the year forecast for today
- Rain, sleet and snow expected to hit the country by tomorrow night
- Britain's big freeze likely to add 'substantially' to the winter death toll, Department of Health warns
- Fog chokes up central and southern England
- Walker dies after slipping on Scafell, Cumbria yesterday
- Gale force winds of up to 50mph expected to hit the country from the West by Friday
- Weather warning for icy roads
After bitterly cold nights and mornings of spectacular frost, the country will be relieved that the end of the deep freeze is in sight.
But while the weather will be warmer by Friday, it will be accompanied by heavy rain and gales.
The band of rain preceding the warmer front will also see some of the country having a brief blanket of snow and sleet.
Much of Britain will have freezing fog and a hard frost today, with overnight temperatures having dropped as low as -10C (15F) in northern Scotland. The Department of Health has said the extreme cold snap was likely to add 'substantially' to the UK's winter death toll.
Skates re-choir-ed: Young choristers from Winchester Cathedral don ice-skates to enjoy the artificial rink set up beside the cathedral earlier today
After temperatures plummeted overnight, the first rays of sunshine can be seen as dawn breaks over a misty Rocester, near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire
A dog walker makes her way through Ashton Court Estate in Bristol, where temperatures dipped to -3 in the city amid bright winter sunshine
A jogger and his dog wander through the soft glow in Ashton Court Estate in Bristol
Mortality rises almost a fifth in winter, with 1,560 excess deaths a week. But Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said 'very severe weather' could add substantially to the increase, according to a report in the Sun newspaper.
Forecasters warn that the warm front crossing the country at the end of the week will bring strong winds, with gusts reaching 50mph along parts of the South Coast on Friday but a maximum temperature of 12C (54F).
There will be heavy showers in the South and most areas will have some rain.
Met Office forecaster Dan Williams said: 'With a band of rain being blown in from the west over Thursday night, we will see transient snow and sleet, which will quickly melt as temperatures rise on Friday. But the warmer weather will be accompanied by strong rain and gale force gusts.
The cold spell of the past few days was due to bitter easterly winds but the warmer, wetter weather will spread from the west.
John Lee, forecaster at MeteoGroup, said: 'It is turning unsettled from Thursday night onwards but for the next couple of days at least it's going to stay very cold.
'Tonight there will be a fairly sharp frost.'
A walker has died after falling 600ft in freezing conditions in the Lake District.
The unnamed man, who was with a friend, slipped on a patch of ice and plunged from the Lord's Rake traverse path on Scafell – England's highest mountain. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Meanwhile, police in Surrey were criticised for putting out a cold weather warning via Twitter yesterday parodying Vanilla Ice's 1990 hit Ice Ice Baby.
They tweeted: 'Ice Ice Surrey. Alright stop, collaborate and listen, Ice is back and these roads are glistening.'
One Surrey resident who read the tweet, Alan Harper, 43, said: 'This song was a hit 22 years ago, so why the police think it's relevant to Twitter users today shows they are a bit out of touch.'
But some good has come from the weather.
Rocester, in Staffordshire, woke yesterday to see a gentle pink sky and their town cloaked in mist, while a brilliant crimson sun rose in Peterborough.
A sparkling frosty morning in Bristol was a delight for walkers, while choir boys enjoyed the chilly weather as they skated around an ice rink in Winchester, Hampshire.
The frost coated Cheshire, lending the fields and plants a magical quality as they glittered in the bright winter light.
Festive feel: Frost-covered leaves on a in the early hours of the morning in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Morning glow: The sun rises over the frosty South Downs near Brighton on the morning of Britain's coldest day of the year - so far
Dashing through the fog: A driver crossing a field near Wells in Somerset in the early hours of the morning
A pheasant forages in a frozen field as forecasters predict the weather will be warmer, but wetter, for the weekend
Ice to see you! A frozen hedge in Leigh in Surrey is draped in delicate icicles after cars driving along a flooded road splashed water over the foliage and the water froze in place
Frostbite: This morning's low temperature saw the night frost stay longer than usual in this high grass in Knutsford, England
The sun rises and begins to burn off early morning frost clinging to the countryside in Knutsford, Cheshire
The appearance of waxwing birds could mean the bad weather is here to stay, if the old adage is true.
Waxwings are believed to be harbingers of glacial weather. In the mid-1960s, when 11,000 visited, it was followed by one of the coldest winters on record.
Thousands of waxwings have descended on Great Britain after the failure of the birds food sources in their native Scandinavian breeding grounds.
Birdwatchers across the UK travel hundreds of miles to catch a glimpse of the rare birds, who turn up in significant numbers every few years, and are thought to be a sign of a harsh winter to come.
The birds, which eat rowan, hawthorn and cotoneaster bush berries, are particularly fond of town centres, where there are ornamental trees – and supermarket car parks with berry hedges.
A waxwing winter is more properly known as an 'irruption'
Cold mist: The top of the church in Rocester, Staffordshire sticks up through the mist covering the town early this morning
Dedicated delivery: A Royal Mail postman braved temperatures of minus three in Banstead Village, Surrey, this morning
Hearty hiking: Ramblers cutting through the early morning sun rising over the morning frost at Dove Stone Reservoir in Oldham, Greater Manchester where temperatures plunged overnight
Good camouflage: As if playing in the cold wasn't hard enough, when snow began to fall over Etchinghill Golf Club near Folkestone, Kent the golfballs became increasingly difficult to spot
Bristol also saw the temperatures drop below zero, but this did not stop this jogger and his dog bear the Ashton Court Estate
Love warms you up: A couple holding hands on an early morning walk at Dove Stone Reservoir in Oldham, Greater Manchester
Snowy lane: A row of houses at Dove Stone Reservoir in Oldham, Greater Manchester are covered in snow and frost
Two years ago, after another big influx, temperatures plummeted.
Most years, only a few hundred arrive this month, returning to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and Russia next spring.
But this year the beautiful birds have been seen in both Scotland and the south of England, which experts believe is down to the combination of a good breeding season and the failure of the birds' food sources, forcing them to forage further.
Seasons greetings: The choir boys of Winchester Cathedral braved the ice skating rink - despite some wearing shorts in the freezing temperatures
Festive skaters: The picturesque scene outside the cathedral resembles a holiday card
Tis the season! Ten-year-old Teddy didn't want Delphi the dog to miss out on the fun, left, whilst one boy braved the ice despite only wearing shorts underneath his gown
We all fall down! Some of the boys took a tumble together on the ice
The boy choristers ignore the cold to skate on the ice rink outside of Winchester Cathedral
Follow me! The delighted youngsters take to the rink as they whirl around on their skates
Going, going, gone! As the boys skated across the ice in a 'snake' formation, they came down one by one
The bright sun rises behind a bungalow on a frosty morning in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Wintry wonder: Early morning frost clings to the surface of a fallen tree in Knutsford, giving the bark a magical quality
An aircaft can be seen against the mustard-yellow sky as cold weather accentuates the steam from a grass dryer in the Cheshire countryside
Early morning frost clings to a leaf in Knutsford, England, creating an outline of tiny frozen ridges
Growing colder: Tiny icicles have formed underneath this fallen leaf in Knutsford, England
They said tonight temperatures could drop to -5C across the country, with the Scottish Highlands experiencing up to -7C.
Across Britain today and tomorrow, the thermometer should hover between 2C and 5C, with fog expected to choke up a large part of England, stretching across central and southern areas, and spanning the Midlands to the Welsh borders.
But by Thursday night, there will be rain, sleet and snow across the country, although warmer weather is expected too.
Scotland saw the chilliest temperatures, with the mercury dipping to -10.5C at Tulloch Bridge and Braemar in Aberdeenshire not far behind with -10.1C.
You must be quackers to walk on that ice! Ducks search for food on a frozen lake at Bramhall Park in Stockport after a heavy overnight frost
Swan dance: This swan tried an elegant dance on the Union Canal and Linlithgow Loch as temperatures struggled to get above freezing
Steady on: It looked promising at first, even graceful at the swan slipped and wobbled across the ice
Swan dive: Unfortunately it did not last very long, and the swan took quite a tumble
A waxwing feeds on rowan berries after the failure of the birds' food sources in their native Scandinavian breeding grounds forced them to migrate
While the waxwings fill up on food, Britain was bracing itself for temperatures around 2C and 5C today
All gobbled up: Birdwatchers across the UK travel hundreds of miles to catch a glimpse of the rare birds
I'll have that! The stunning grey and yellow birds are thought to be a sign of a harsh winter to come
The birds eat rowan, hawthorn and cotoneaster bush berries, and are normally more at home in Scandinavia and Russia.
John Lee, forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said parts of Cumbria dropped to as low as -6C, while many others parts of the country hovered around -1C and -2C on Monday night.
Mr Lee said: 'Across the board there was a very widespread frost - only a few coastal areas escaped the worst of it.'
Drive safely: Frosty roads in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire as there are further warnings of snowy roads tomorrow
Winter's definitely here! A motorist scrapes ice from her car after the cold winter arrived in Liverpool
Helping hand! Georgia Marriott, 9, scrapes the ice from her mother's car on a frosty morning in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire