SNOW LATEST: South Yorkshire shivers in Arctic blast

SHEFFIELD and the rest of the region woke to a covering of snow with commuters warned of delays and a miserable morning ahead.

Weather experts say it could be the coldest weekend for the time of year in 50-years.

Weather warning: Snow latest.

Weather warning: Snow latest.

The Met Office has isused a series of snow warnings for most of the north and say the public should be prepared for the possibility of severe disruption, particularly to transport and to power supplies.

There is a possibility of up to 10cm of snow, especially on high ground in some areas of South Yorkshire, the north Midlands, north east Wales and north west England,in the Amber warning area.

Rain spreading northeastwards, turned to snow across much of Northern Ireland, North Wales, the Midlands and Northern England.

Further snow is expected later on today

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While the South West is facing downpours and possible flooding, much of the rest of Britain faces a white weekend with widespread snow storms and strong winds predicted - a week away from the start of British Summer Time.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for snow across many parts, with predictions of 4-6 inches possible in the north Midlands, north east Wales and north west England.

High areas could see 8-16 inches of snow fall and strong and even gale force winds could lead to blizzard conditions, as the miserable March continues.

Heavy rain sweeping across Northern Ireland will turn increasingly to snow with up to 12 inches across the hills of Down and Antrim, while on the east coast rain and sleet could cause localised flooding.

The AA issued warnings to motorists that even short journeys could be difficult, and that there could be a repeat of the scenes in southern England last week when hundreds of drivers were stranded in their cars overnight.

Darron Burness, the AA’s Head of Special Operations, said: “It’s going to be a real witch’s brew of driving wind, rain and snow, which will inevitably cause disruption on the roads.

“Drivers should be well prepared as even short journeys can quickly turn bad.”

He warned of localised flooding, and urged drivers to stay out of flood water. He also said snow that settles could persist in the low temperatures, leading to icy patches.

“Wherever you’re going, take plenty of warm layers, check the travel reports before heading out and stick to the main roads where possible,” he said.

The Local Government Association said council gritting and ploughing teams would be out in force to try to ensure main roads remained passable where snow and freezing temperatures had been forecast.

Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said hundreds of thousands of tonnes of salt had been spread this winter, but hundreds of thousands more tonnes were available in council depots and new deliveries were coming in.

And he said: “Council staff will be out and about over the next few days checking in on the people they know to be vulnerable and delivering hot meals and portable heaters, collecting prescriptions, defrosting pipes, fixing frozen boilers and making sure they have what they need.”

But he also urged residents with elderly or vulnerable family or neighbours to check in on them to make sure they were coping with the latest freeze.

Emergency services were last night responding to a surge in weather-related call-outs as heavy rainfall continues to blight communities.

The Environment Agency said heavy rain last night and today could lead to flooding in south west England, while snow further north is likely to cause significant travel disruption.

The Government agency said it was monitoring river levels and was expecting to issue flood alerts and possibly more serious flood warnings for the South West region.

And emergency services in the far west of England are already battling to keep on top of call levels.

Cornwall Council has already set up a designated control room to handle calls.

Spokesman Dave Owens said the county’s fire and rescue service received around 50 calls between 6pm and 9pm, with around 70 firefighters dealing with incidents across Cornwall.

He said: “The main problem still appears to be surface water flooding which is continuing to affect a number of areas across Cornwall.

“There are reports of around eight properties flooded so far, although there are concerns at the rising water levels in Newlyn where the water is edging towards some commercial properties.”

There are reports of flooding across the west of the county, including around Newlyn and Penzance, as well as in Mevagissey in mid-Cornwall - a community still recovering from the impact of last year’s torrential downpours.

Police also warned motorists against driving.

Sgt Dave Opara, based in Plymouth, said: “I would advise motorists not to make journeys that aren’t absolutely necessary this evening.

“There has been a considerable amount of rainfall across the force area. There will be more to come throughout the night, so the situation is not going to get much better too soon.”

He said the force had received “a significant increase” in weather-related calls this evening.

A severe weather warning has been issued for rain in the region, with 1.6 to 2.4 inches set to fall over southern Devon and Cornwall in the next 24 hours, and up to 4 inches on exposed southern slopes.

Environment Agency spokesman Ben Johnstone said: “We strongly urge people to sign up to flood warnings on the Environment Agency website, keep a close eye on local weather forecasts and be prepared for possible flooding.

“We also ask that people stay safe and not try to wade or drive through any deep water.”