Snow and ice is expected across most of Scotland as well as parts of northern and southern England, Northern Ireland and Wales as 2020 draws to a chilly conclusion.
Covid restrictions mean there is less traffic on the roads, but the Met Office has warned of hazardous driving conditions in areas covered by yellow warnings.
Tuesday night was the coldest so far this winter and the joint coldest of the year. Dalwhinnie, in the Scottish Highlands, recorded a low of -10.2C. The Met Office said the chilly weather is expected to continue, with wintry showers in many places on Wednesday afternoon, particularly near windward coasts.
Yellow warnings for snow and ice are in place across northern and western parts of Scotland and the north of Northern Ireland until 11am on New Year’s Eve. For southern and eastern parts of Scotland, north-west England and the north of Wales they will apply from 6pm on Wednesday until 2pm on New Year’s Eve.
A yellow warning for ice has also been issued for the southern coast of England from 6pm on Wednesday until 11am on New Year’s Eve. A little snow is also possible on the south coast, but it is unlikely to be as heavy as previously forecast.
The Met Office’s chief meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, said: “An Atlantic frontal system looks likely to bring a mixture of rain, sleet and snow.”
Clare Nasir, a Met Office forecaster, said: “2021 starts how 2020 ended, on a very cold note with the risk of wintry showers and widespread frosts.”
Difficult driving conditions are likely to further affect supermarket delivery drivers. Sainsbury’s and Tesco have already cancelled shopping orders as several centimetres of snow settled across parts of the UK.
Deputy chief constable Terry Woods, of Lancashire police, said on Tuesday that several vehicles had become stuck on higher roads and officers had to rescue their occupants. He said the roads were only passable in 4x4s and advised people not to travel unless it was essential.
Highways England has also alerted motorists, and the AA reminded drivers that stopping distances could be 10 times longer on icy roads.
The AA’s Ben Sheridan said: “Before setting off, it’s important to fully de-ice the car, remove snow from the roof and ensure all the lights are working so you can see and be seen. Check the conditions along your route before you go and make sure you have plenty of fuel in case of delays.
“It’s also worth carrying winter essentials, such as warm, waterproof layers, a shovel, a torch, fully charged mobile phone and a flask of hot drink.”
Flooding may also add to the hazardous driving conditions in some parts of the country. Thirty-seven flood warnings, which indicate that flooding is expected and immediate action is required, were in place across England on Wednesday afternoon, along with 80 flood alerts, which indicate flooding is possible and people should be prepared.