WINTER arrived with a vengeance in the North East yesterday as England’s first snowflakes of the season fell in the region.
Arctic winds brought temperatures as low as -2 degrees and up to 2cm of snow was expected to fall in parts of rural Northumberland and County Durham by this morning.
The freezing conditions meant the region was last night shivering in temperatures as cold as Moscow, with more snow predicted today.
Milder air from the North West will start making its way in tonight, bringing an end to the two-day cold snap.
Sleet and snow hit most parts of the North East yesterday, including Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham, leaving a white coating on the bright autumn leaves.
Charlie Powell, a spokesman for the Met Office said: “Some parts of the country are as cold as Moscow today. Those in Northumberland were experiencing temperatures between 3 and 4C.
“Overnight temperatures could drop to as low as -2 with a frosty start to the day for many.
“In the North East there could be 2cm of snow and parts of northern Scotland could see up to 5cm of snow throughout the next 24 hours.”
He added: “We are experiencing a two-day cold snap today and tomorrow. On Monday it will be back to wet and windy and temperatures where they should be, as high as 4 and 6C.”
Tony Conlan, a forecaster with Meteo Group UK, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “Late on Saturday night there should be milder air coming in from the North West, making it warmer on Sunday, but still not very pleasant, with rain just about everywhere.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) said that hundreds of gritters are on standby to treat roads.
An LGA survey of councils across England and Wales found there is currently about 1.3 million tonnes of salt in council depots – enough to fill more than 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This is about twice as much as was used during last winter. A spokesman said: “Councils have invested in new fleets of GPS-tracked gritting trucks, mini-gritters and specialist vehicles for narrow and hilly streets.
“Thousands of grit bins have been placed in estates and side streets, residents have been given their own bags of salt along with salt spreaders in some neighbourhoods, and arrangements have been made with parish councils, farmers and community groups to grit hard-to-reach areas.
“Council websites will be updated with the latest information on weather, gritting routes, school closures and bin collections, special ‘gritter Twitter’ feeds and Facebook pages have been set up, and leaflets sent out advising residents on winter services, how to drive safely in snow and dispelling the health and safety myths about clearing pavements.”