First comes the snow then the rain's back: Britain covered in white as temperatures dip to -7C
- Snow expected in Scotland - and it will spread to England and Wales over the weekend
- Met Office warns of icy roads as frost and flooding run-off causes havoc for motorists
- Midlands and East of England may wake to a 'sprinkling of snow'
By Eddie Wrenn
Britain will shiver into December today as temperatures plunge.
Frost will cover the country and flurries of snow may reach as far south as the Chilterns.
Yesterday an icy blast blanketed the entire country as the mercury struggled to get anywhere above freezing.
Still, these horse trainers in Surrey were happy to ride it out as temperatures dropped below zero.
Riding through the cold: Horse trainers still ensure their horses get their early morning trot, despite temperatures of -1C on Epsom Downs race course in Surrey
A cold month ahead? As December looms, a dog walker enjoys the frozen landscape in the north of England today
Chilly - but peaceful: Two swans enjoy the dawn as the frosty Friday begins
In Shap, Cumbria, it was as cold as -7C (19F).
Meanwhile the village of Ravensworth in North Yorkshire saw the mercury freeze at -5.8C.
The first snow of winter is expected to fall this morning followed tomorrow by further heavy rain in the West.
The threat of more rainfall – up to an inch – will be another desperate blow to those already struggling to recover from the floods of earlier this week.
The Met Office said it had extended its yellow warning for further ice across large swathes of the country amid the threat of more rain and sub-zero temperatures.
'There's going to be a widespread frost on Saturday morning across large parts of the country and a few icy stretches,' warned Met Office forecaster Charles Powell.
'That risk will continue. We've extended our yellow warning for much of northern England advising people to be aware and remain vigilant and that'll stay in place over much of the weekend.
'There will also be one or two showers across the Cornish coast.
'We have a little bit of snow on the way and that clump of rain, sleet and snow will gradually make its way southwards from Scotland.
'By Saturday morning the snow will have reached the Pennines and the North Yorkshire moors with up to 4cm falling in places.
'It will continue southwards throughout the day but it will get increasingly weak and light. There could be a sleet or snow flurry across parts of the Chilterns.'
What is this? Alfie the Jack Russell beams with joy as the north Pennines takes on a brand new look
Bounding for joy: Alfie scoots along his new surface, with not a single human care about commutes
Cold and dry end of the week: A view of Loch Lomond from Duncryne hill, by Gartocharn today
Full moon: The cold snap follows recent, severe flooding, which has affected areas of Western and Northen England
As temperatures continue to fall on the day before the start of winter, thousands of icicles hang to a hedgerow near Ashbourne, Derbyshire
A chilly walk: Frost also covered the parks in London this morning
A dog of a day: The frosty scene this morning in Barnsley, South Yorkshire - which suffered some of the coldest temperatures overnight
Get your coat on! Horses in a a frost-covered field in Wales this morning - although one poor creature looks like he needs more protection
A winter's day: Frost covers Somerset, where drivers have been warned of dangerous conditions
Temperatures are predicted to drop well below freezing throughout the weekend – as low as -5C (23F) in many parts of the country.
The Met Office warned of a '90 per cent probability' of a severe cold snap lasting until at least noon on Sunday.
By then the snow will be replaced by heavy and persistent rain, particularly in the South-West where flood waters have already wreaked havoc. As much as 20mm could fall.
The Environment Agency is said to be closely monitoring the situation amid fears of further flooding.
By Monday milder temperatures are expected to give a little light relief before another cold front hits the country on Wednesday.
'Next week will begin with relatively mild temperatures,' added Mr Powell.
'We could get as high as double figures, that's up a couple of degrees on what we have had recently.
'By Wednesday it will get a lot colder, the snow showers will return and temperatures will drop below freezing again.'
Cold morning: Frost covers Somerset as Glastonbury Tor shivers in the distance
As Leicester shimmers in the background,the ground freezes, with temperatures plunging to zero overnight
Forecaster Stephen Davenport of MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, added a front of rain was moving south, bringing wintry conditions with it.
'There's going to be a mixture of rain, sleet, hail and snow showers,' he said.
'In the northern parts of the country, over the hills, there will be a 2cm to 3cm covering of snow with up to 4cm in some spots.
'There may be snow showers down the eastern side of the country. The northern areas will certainly see a covering and further south you are likely to see a dusting on the verges.'
Those who brave the cold should wrap up warm, as temperatures are unlikely to rise more than 5C to 7C throughout Saturday.
And while Sunday is expected to start dry, a band of clouds moving in from the Atlantic could bring more snow in the evening - although the Met Office stressed this was likely to be 'transient' snow which would not settle.
Forecaster Charles Powell said: 'Drivers may see snow flurries as they drive, but we do not expect this to settle and it should not be around for Monday morning's rush hour.'
The Met Office has urged motorists to remain vigilant ahead, while councils have stockpiled 1.3million tons of road salt and have hundreds of gritters on standby.
But it is feared that standing water left by this week's devastating floods will continue to run off the fields and verges and wash away the salt.
It is unlikely to fall in any great quantity but the combination of sub-zero temperatures, further rain and snow could result in treacherous driving conditions.
NEW FLOOD MEASURES WORTH £120MILLION ANNOUNCED TODAY
The Government announced £120million new funding for flood defences today, as families in parts of the country face the aftermath of more flooding.
Ministers said £60million would be targeted at areas where improving defences against flooding could unlock investment and growth in the area, and the rest would go to speed up delivery of up to 50 schemes already in the pipeline.
The Government estimates the money, which will be delivered between next year and 2015, will improve flood protection for up to 60,000 homes and provide one billion pounds in economic benefits.
Potential projects which could benefit from the funding targeted at unlocking economic benefits include Leeds, where the riverside area is regularly threatened by floods and defences could protect 250 businesses, employing more than 100,000 people, and more than 3,100 homes.
The Government said the money was in addition to the £2billion being spent on flooding and coastal erosion this spending period up to 2015, more than one billion pounds of which is for capital projects such as flood defences.
Need for defences: Frozen flood water next to the river Dove in Ellastone near Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Chilly chat: The steamy breath of horses pictured in sub-zero temperatures in Three Legged Cross, Dorset this morning
There are also fears that up to an inch of rainfall could cause further damage to flood-hit areas, particularly in the South West. Among those rivers at threat are the Thames, Trent and Severn, which all remain at very high levels.
'By Sunday morning we could see some quite heavy rain, up to an inch in places,' added Mr Powell. 'As that hits the cold air it will turn into snow.
'It will last for about two hours before turning back to rain. As we go into Monday it's going to remain pretty wet and windy with further outbreaks of heavy rain in places.'
The Met Office also warned that while temperatures would recover by the start of next week it would remain unsettled for much of December with wintry showers and further outbreaks of rain.
Downpours across the country have caused widespread devastation in towns and communities.
It has even led to deaths, with a 21-year-old homeless woman was killed when a huge spruce tree fell on her as she slept in a tent in the storms.
Michelle Conroy was killed by the fallen 50-foot spruce as she huddled against the rain and gales in her sleeping bag on a main road in Exeter, Devon.
Friends yesterday said she was a 'sweet and caring' person and a canon missioner at Exeter Cathedral said she was a 'quiet and polite' person who had suffered a 'sad and broken childhood'.
Wish you were here....?
The rain in Spain is mainly snow: A driver puts on tyre chains in Aralar, Navarra, northern Spain, where some 32 provinces are on yellow or orange alert due to snowfalls and heavy winds. On the other side of the world, Sydneysiders enjoy the heatwave and flock to Bondi Beach, where temperatures are hitting the low 40s