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Monday, December 5, 2011

Britain braced for a white Christmas as warm November becomes distant memory with snow and frost freezing the country

-Met Office issues severe weather warnings for Scotland, Northern Ireland, much of northern England and the Midlands
-Forecasters warn four inches of snow will fall in next 48 hours
-A lorry driver died after his vehicle skidded off the A160 in Lincolnshire
-Police warn motorists to take care in treacherous driving conditions
-Wintry showers set to continue throughout week in northern and western parts

By Paul Sims

Treacherous conditions: A snow plough makes its way through the streets of Shotts in central Scotland today as the Met Office issued severe weather warnings for Scotland and much of the north

The big freeze finally hit Britain today, carpeting much of the north in snow and ice, while temperatures plummet across the rest of the country.

After the second-warmest November since records began in 1910, many woke up to widespread frost this morning and the task of de-icing their windscreens.

Forecasters have warned that four inches of snow will fall in the next 48 hours causing misery for motorists.

Let it snow! Richard Mooney and his dog Toby walk underneath snow-covered bows near Whitburn in West Lothian today after six inches of the white stuff fell overnight

Severe: The Met Office today issued severe weather warnings for Scotland, Northern Ireland, much of northern England and parts of the Midlands for today and tomorrow

A lorry driver died this morning after his vehicle skidded off a trunk road in north Lincolnshire after driving conditions turned treacherous.

Humberside Police said the white Scania lorry, which was fully loaded with meat, left the westbound carriageway of the A160 in South Killingholme at about 4.14am.

Police across the north of England and Scotland are warning motorists to take extra care due to sleet and snow.

The Met Office today issued severe weather warnings of snow and ice for most of Scotland, Northern Ireland, much of northern England and parts of the Midlands.

Still in bloom: A red rose's petals bear the brunt of the significant snow fall in Moulin, Perthshire

Still running: A train departs from the snow-dusted station in Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland today

...And further south: Jockeys and their horses trot to the gallops on the Pennines near West Witton today as snowfall continues to sweep the north of England

Low visibility: The jockeys then had to ride through a blizzard as the weather in the Pennines got worse this morning

Not the best day for a driving lesson: A learner driver crawls up a hill in North Belfast today after police closed the Ballysillan Road due to the icy conditions

Ice rink: A police officer stands behind a car attempting to make it down the icy hill, left, while concerned neighbours contemplate an icy mini roundabout, right, both in North Belfast today

Overnight 10cm of snow fell in Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway, while Spadeadam, near Carlisle in Cumbria had 6cm.

While the Met Office said it was 'too early to tell' whether we can expect a white Christmas, bookies have now slashed the odds. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle have all been reduced in price, while London's Heathrow Airport was also cut to 11-2 from 6-1.

A fleet of 130 gritters were out in force overnight and used 3,000 tonnes of salt to treat roads in the northern parts of the country.

Baaa humbug: A flock of sheep today trudge through the snow-covered hills above the Glens in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland

Picture postcard: Snow covers the ground as far as the eye can see in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland today and more is on the way

But the M74 in South Lanarkshire was still down to one lane southbound after an HGV jack-knifed earlier today. The A74 in Dumfries and Galloway was also reduced to one lane when another lorry jack-knifed.

Assistant Chief Constable Allan Moffat, of Central Scotland Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), said: '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.'

Police reported a loss of the 999 call service in the Rosehall area of Lairg in Sutherland, affecting 176 telephone lines due to the wintry weather conditions.

The Met Office has predicted sub-zero temperatures and strong winds will continue for the rest of the week in northern and western parts, while gales with gusts up to 40mph are due to hit the region tomorrow morning.

The south west and east will remain dry and bright but bitterly cold as the weeks moves forward, but there is a risk of fog and frost overnight.

Gritters were put on stand-by and motorists warned to take extra precautions after up to three inches fell over the weekend.

Cold nag: A well-padded horse kicks up the thick snow in a field on the outskirts of Belfast this morning

White-out walkies: A woman walks her dog near Peebles in the Scottish Borders today as heavy snow covers much of Scotland

Dashing through the snow: A boy strides purposefully to school across the snow-covered roads today, left, while a man picks his way over an icy bridge, right, both in Peebles in the Scottish Borders

Battle: Scottish workers shovel the first significant snow this winter outside Buchanan bus station in Glasgow city centre today as the icy conditions made it treacherous for motorists

As children frolicked, drivers battled their way through untreated rural roads, with some having to dig themselves out before setting off. Cumbria, Northumberland and County Durham were hit first, but the freezing conditions are set to spread to parts of Yorkshire by midweek at the latest.

Yet as snow blankets parts of the UK, France’s ski resorts are facing a potentially ruinous shortage.

Just two of its 36 resorts in the Pyrenees are open, and it is unclear if the snowfall expected there this week will be enough to salvage the season for thousands of ­Britons looking forward to pre-Christmas breaks.

Treacherous: Motorists creep along the A66 in Cumbria over the weekend

Winter fun: Youngsters Thomas, six, and Alex Kingston, five, have fun sledging in the snow in Tynedale, Northumberland, over the weekend

The big freeze chores: A motorist shovels snow from her car in Alston, Cumbria on Sunday with more winter showers expected today and tomorrow

Bit early for you Rudolph: A reindeer gets its first taste of winter after snow fell on the lower slopes of Cairngorm on Friday



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