Forecasters at the Met Office have today increased the warning of heavy snowfall from a yellow alert to an amber warning across parts of the UK.
experts have also extended the affected regions to now include North West
and North East England
as well as Yorkshire
and the Humber
The warning was upgraded this morning after the first snow
of winter arrived overnight on Friday.
A belt of rain is expected to be replaced by snowfall as the Met Office issued a severe weather warning for the Highlands, Strathclyde, Central, Tayside & Fife as well as South West Scotland and the Lothian Borders.
The upgraded amber warning is valid from 3pm on Sunday afternoon and lasts more than 30 hours until midnight on Monday.
It warns: "Sleet and snow showers will continue during Sunday afternoon and evening across Scotland and will last through Monday, bringing accumulations of snow to some areas. Icy stretches are likely to form on untreated surfaces.
"The public should be aware that this could lead to travel disruption in places."
The yellow weather alert for northern England is valid from 9pm on Sunday evening to 11am on Monday morning and states: "Showers will turn increasingly wintry this evening and into Monday morning, with snow accumulations expected across some hilly areas in northwest England. Additionally, icy patches are likely to become a hazard on untreated surfaces.
"The public should be aware that the wintry conditions could cause travel disruption in places."
The Scottish Government Transport Minister Keith Brown also warned of a potentially testing return to work for parts of Scotland tomorrow.
After chairing the Multi Agency Response Team (MART) this morning, Mr Brown said that with snow and ice forecast for many parts of the country, road operating companies have strengthened their gritter patrols.
MART involves the police, rail operators, road operating companies and the Met Office.
Mr Brown said: "We've already seen some wintry weather across much of Scotland and, while it is not as severe as this time last year, we cannot afford to be complacent and with some treacherous icy conditions forecast overnight, I will be in the control centre tonight and tomorrow to stay up to speed with preparations.
"With this weather set to continue, a fleet of gritters and winter patrols will be out throughout the night to treat roads where required. While we are all working hard to keep Scotland moving, it's important the public play their part too.
"With the amber alert being given to travel with caution, we aim to keep road users informed with real time information through the Traffic Scotland web and radio sites. Anyone planning to travel over the next few days should check weather forecasts, allow extra time for journeys and plan ahead by checking websites and local radio for real time travel information."
Assistant Chief Constable Allan Moffat (Central Scotland Police) on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland) – ACPOS – said: "With temperatures due to drop to below freezing tonight and snow and sleet forecast for many parts of the country I would encourage all drivers to listen to their local weather forecast and adjust their normal driving to work time according to the conditions they are faced with.
"This will be particularly important with heavy traffic expected for the Monday morning rush hour period. Motorists will be facing a different danger to that which they have experienced recently.
"I would ask people to remember that both damp and snow affected roads can hide the hidden danger of black ice, particularly in shaded areas. Our message is very much aimed at asking motorists to be aware of the dangers and travel with extra caution."
Gritters will be out but need space to deal with snow and drivers should make room for them. When their rear amber lights are flashing they are spreading salt otherwise they are patrolling.
Rain and low temperatures together is an extremely difficult winter condition to deal with. Gritters need to salt after rain stops so that is isn't just washed away. Therefore there is a high risk of ice in these conditions and drivers should adjust the driving approach accordingly, slow down, no sudden braking.
By this time last year most of the country was already in the icy grip of the Big Freeze, with widespread severe frosts, deep snowfall and extensive travel chaos.
Huge snowfalls brought most of the country to a standstill as temperatures in places dipped as low as -21C.
However, this year council chiefs confirm they have stockpiled more salt to keep the roads open than was used through all of last winter.
Council depots across England and Wales have about 1.4 million tonnes of salt in reserve, the Local Government Association said.
A total of 51 per cent of councils have more salt for the start of this winter than they had for the start of winter 2010/11, with 48 per cent aiming to have the same amount.
On average, each council has about 4,900 tonnes of salt in stock – about 1,500 tonnes more than this time last year.
Last winter councils each spread, on average, 4,000 tonnes of salt, which was about three-quarters of their total stocked throughout the season.
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