ITV News' Stacey Foster reports on how the rapidly changing winter weather conditions are impacting on people across the UK
The Met Office has issued an amber warning for heavy snow bringing "blizzard conditions" to a large area of central and northern England on Thursday.
It comes as widespread travel disruption has been brought to large parts of the UK on Wednesday, owing to an arctic blast which has created treacherous conditions on some roads, shut schools and suspended flights.
According to the forecaster, "significant disruption" to transport, power lines and phone network coverage is expected in the area covered by the warning, which stretches from Stoke-on-Trent to Durham.
Watch the latest ITV News weather forecast as Thursday brings snow flurries and an amber weather warning
The Met Office said "strong winds bringing blizzard conditions" are on the way for the region from 3pm on Thursday until noon on Friday, with 30-40cm of snow.
An amber warning means there is an increased likelihood of impacts from severe weather, including travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts and a potential risk to life and property.
Residual impacts from snowfall are expected to continue throughout Friday morning, with 10-20cm of snow predicted to fall quite widely. Some places could see as much as 30-40cm.
Forecasters have also issued several milder yellow weather warnings for snow covering much of the country on Thursday, with night-time sub-zero temperatures expected in all four UK nations.
Meanwhile, dozens of flights have been suspended in the south of England amid snowfall across the nation, following the coldest night of the year on Tuesday.
More sleet and snow is expected across central southern England, the Midlands, south Wales and parts of East Anglia on Wednesday, while scattered snow and hail showers will impact Scotland’s northern coasts.
A yellow warning for snow covers all of the UK north of Birmingham, spanning from 7am on Thursday until 2pm on Friday, as ITV Weather Presenter Chris Page notes.
There is currently a yellow warning for snow and ice covering Wales, the Midlands, the northern home countries and much of East Anglia until 7am on Thursday morning.
At least 27 flights due to depart from the Bristol Airport on Wednesday morning were affected by snow, while several arrivals have been diverted to Birmingham.
A spokesperson for the airport said "additional staff are on site to assist with the adverse weather response" and passengers have been advised to check with their airline prior to arriving at the airport.
The airport reopened at 10.45am but said there is "ongoing flight disruption".
Passengers were warned to expect severe delays due to a yellow weather warning for ice and snow is currently in place across the South West.
Gatwick Airport said some passengers experienced "minor delays" on Wednesday morning but "the airport is open and flights are operating".
National Highways has issued a "severe weather alert" for snow in parts of England for Wednesday afternoon - asking people only to travel when essential on these parts of the road network.
The weather warning means driving conditions will be treacherous, especially for larger vehicles and those not equipped with four-wheel drive between 3pm and midnight in the West Midlands and the East of England.
HGV drivers have been asked to consider avoiding parts of the road network with steeper than normal inclines, where their vehicle could become jack-knifed or stranded, such as the M40 at junctions 4-5 and the A49 in Shropshire.
The A39 in Somerset was shut both ways in Nether Stowey after several lorries became stranded in the snow, while heavy snow in the Bath area meant some First Bus services were all suspended.
Dale Hipkiss, national network manager at National Highways, urged people to pack extra provisions in vehicles in case they become stranded.
"Keeping a kit of essential items like a torch and warm clothes, in your vehicle, can be vital in case you and your passengers become stranded in winter," he said.
"Freezing conditions bring so many hazards, such as snow and ice, and take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow lots of extra time when travelling to prepare for the unexpected."
The snow and ice warnings for Wednesday cover northern Scotland until 10am on Thursday, along with central and southern areas of England and Wales from midnight until 7am on Thursday.
A third warning for snow and ice covers north-east England and south-east Scotland from 5pm on Wednesday to 7am on Thursday.
In most places the snowfall will continue until Friday, with a yellow warning for snow covering all of the UK north of Birmingham spanning from 7am on Thursday until 2pm on Friday.
The Met Office's chief meteorologist, Matthew Lehnert, said the weather could cut off rural communities in the north and impact travel over the next few days across southern England.
Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey said average snow levels of 2-5cm are expected across much of the UK tomorrow, including in major northern cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
In the north of Scotland, temperatures are expected to stay below freezing over the course of Wednesday, with a yellow weather warning for snow and ice in place for Scotland until early Thursday.
The Met Office has said temperatures at Kinbrace in the Highlands dropped to this year’s low of minus 15.4C overnight – the lowest March temperature recorded in more than a decade.
In some sheltered Scottish glens, temperatures had been expected to drop as low as minus 15C overnight on Tuesday. The bitter conditions are likely to persist until the weekend.
A Met Office yellow warning for snow is in place for the whole of Northern Ireland from Thursday and into Friday, as ITV Meteorologist Aisling Creevey notes in this weather update:
Forecasters say the cold spell of weather will continue but it will very quickly turn into a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow during Thursday.
Any communities through hilly or mountainous parts are likely to see snowfall accumulate through the night.
Current thinking is the wintry mix will not arrive into northern parts of Antrim and Londonderry until the evening.
The bad weather is expected to continue overnight, before clearing away during daylight hours on Friday morning.
Nearly 200 schools were closed in Wales on Wednesday - mainly in the south and west of the country - amid the snowfall.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council decided to close all schools in the area from 1.30pm on Wednesday afternoon.
More sleet and snow is expected across south Wales on Wednesday, with roads also having closed after temperatures fell to -4C overnight.
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for snow across the whole of north Wales. It also covers large parts of mid Wales.
The warning comes into place at 7am on Thursday, March 9, and is active until 2pm on Friday, March 10.
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