UP TO 5cm of snow is expected to fall on the North East today as the first cold snap of the year arrived.
A light dusting fell overnight on Saturday as temperatures plummeted to -3 degrees and commuters faced icy roads and travel disruption.
The Met Office last night put in place a yellow snow warning for the region until Wednesday, although the worst is expected to fall today.
Newcastle City Council has been watching the weather reports closely as part of its gritting operation, and said it expected between 2cm and 4cm to fall between 3am and 6am this morning.
A spokesperson for the Met Office said: “Today will be cloudy and very cold with snow probably spreading from the north during the day.
“There will be significant accumulations of snow likely in places.”
Nick Prebble, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, added: “It will be throughout Monday when the heaviest snow falls, affecting central and east England and northern Wales.
“Those areas will see between 2cm and 5cm by the end of the day, but there is the potential for up to 10cm locally.
“It will be quite disruptive throughout the day before it clears on Monday night.
“Temperatures will be noticeably cold for most of England, barely above one degree where the snow falls and around six degrees in western areas of England.”
He added that the cold weather would be likely to linger for the week with the possibility of more light snow flurries in the North East on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Highways Agency has said it was “well prepared“ for winter conditions.
A spokeswoman said: “We have a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art winter vehicles on standby, supported by tried-and-tested winter resilience plans.
“We have reviewed salt stock levels and taken action where needed to enhance our resilience and we have again established a reserve salt stock to help ensure that there is enough salt to deal with severe winter.
“Our roads will be treated whenever there is a risk of ice or snow.
“However, even when roads have been treated, drivers should still take care, especially on stretches where the local road layout or landscape means there could be a greater risk of ice forming.”
Organisations across the region are making preparations to cope once the snow begins to fall.
Durham County Council has added 10 vehicles to its fleet of 40 gritters, plus five snow blowers. At Cobalt Business Park, in North Tyneside, a snow plough has been purchased to ensure the 11,000 employees can safely get to work.