Health warning issued as freezing temperatures hit UK

Snow and ice will continue to cause disruption. Credit: PA

A health alert has been issued across England as sub-zero temperatures are set to hit the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), issued a level three cold alert on Monday in response to “severe winter weather”.

It warned that older people and those with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable during a cold snap, and stressed it could have a “serious impact” on people’s health.

It comes as the Met Office said all of England will continue to experience cold weather until 9am on Friday.

People have been told to avoid the Priory Meadow Shopping Centre in Hastings which is underwater Credit: East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan activated the capital’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers on Monday, as temperatures in the city are expected to fall below 0C overnight.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, said: “Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly older people and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

“During this period, it is important to check in on family, friends and relatives who may be more vulnerable to the cold weather.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it is important to try and heat your home to at least 18°C if you can.”

A large landslip in Hampshire has left one of the tracks of the main line from London to Basingstoke hanging in mid-air. Credit: Network Rail

Treacherous conditions could also lead to slips and falls on icy surfaces, and urged drivers and cyclists to beware of icy patches on untreated roads.

It comes after wintry conditions moved in from the Arctic over the weekend, with people in areas such as Hexham, Northumberland, waking up to settled snow on Monday.

An overnight low of minus 9.1C was recorded at Dalwhinnie in the Highlands, the Met Office said.

The Met Office added: “Snow showers will become more frequent through Monday, continuing to feed in on north-westerly winds overnight.

“Accumulations of a couple of centimetres are possible at low levels, with higher ground expected to see 5-10cm in places.

“In addition, icy stretches are likely to form following showers.”

On Monday, Met Office senior meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “It’s fair to say it’s cold today, cold tonight, cold tomorrow and cold through much of the week really.

Drivers have been warned to leave extra time for their Monday commute Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

“Snow showers will continue across parts of Scotland, particularly in the north, probably seeding into Northern Ireland too.”

The wintry weather could push south on Monday, reaching East Anglia, he added.

There will be “lots of clear blue skies” by later on Monday, but cold temperatures will remain, with “absolute highs of 6C or 7C” while many places will be “several degrees colder than that”.

He added: “Lots of places will be low single figures, some places will stay below freezing today.”

Snowy conditions in Hexham after early morning snow. Credit: PA

He said Monday night is likely to be widely “slightly colder” than the night before, possibly bringing lows of minus 10C or minus 11C.

The warning for snow and ice in northern Scotland could well be extended into Thursday, he added.

The cold weather with “showery rain, sleet and snow” will continue into Wednesday and Thursday before becoming “more changeable” on Friday and conditions are “milder by the weekend,” he said.

“By the weekend there will be a real upturn in temperatures,” he added.

Gulls standing on a snowy fence in Hexham Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Rod Dennis, RAC spokesman, said: “After last week’s flooded roads, it’s now ice that poses the biggest danger to drivers.

“Anyone setting out needs to be particularly careful when driving on rural or other quiet roads which haven’t been gritted – key as always is slowing down so that drivers have as much time as possible to react should their cars lose grip.

“And, although this week’s cold snap will be much briefer than the freezing conditions we saw in December that led to the RAC’s busiest week ever, we’re still expecting to see a big increase in breakdowns.

“Batteries failing in the cold will be the top reason for calling us out, but people whose cars do start are most likely to need our help with tyre problems.”

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