Storm Darcy heads in with wintry blast and heavy snow for the East of England

The East of England is braced for a blast of wintry weather over the next few days with warnings that heavy snow could fall in eastern areas.

A weather system sweeping in from continental Europe has been named Storm Darcy by the Dutch Met Service and is the fourth named storm of the winter season to hit the British Isles.

Snow and ice are expected to be a problem across much of the region from tonight into Sunday.

There's also an amber warning for heavy snow along the far east coast from Sunday into Monday.

Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, said: “The UK is in for a notably cold and snowy period over the next week, with very cold air in place over the whole of the UK by Sunday.

“Showers will see snow accumulating across eastern areas. Within the Amber warning area, more widespread snow is expected and we could see 5-10 cm of snow quite widely, with a chance that a few places could see 20 cm or more. .”

It's prompted a warning from Public Health England for people to check on elderly neighbours.

A snowy scene in Peterborough on 25 January 2021 Credit: Rob Hefferon

He said people should make a call or socially-distanced doorstep visit if they live close by, to remind them of some simple but important health tips.

It's also helpful to check they have enough food and drinks and any medicines they need. This will help them to stay warm and stay well.

The RAC said it expected a sharp increase in breakdowns over the weekend and that people should think "extremely carefully" before setting out on journeys.

The Met Office says 5-10 cms (up to 4 inches) of snow will fall widely, and strong easterly winds could lead to drifting, especially in eastern parts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

It says blizzard conditions are possible, and some areas could even see 15-20cm (6-8 inches) of snow through Sunday.

Gritters will be out in force this weekend as the East of England prepares. 100 drivers will be clearing the roads in Norfolk, with 90 farmers also on standby in case their snowploughs are needed.

The county council says it'll be gritting near vaccination centres and clearing out carparks if needed so jabs can still go ahead.

Drivers are still being urged to be vigilant though as lighter traffic means grit on the roads doesn't work as well. 

Gritting Lorry at a Depot in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire as Weather Forecasters predict snow across parts of the country at the weekend Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Highways England’s Operations Manager, Edward Oag said: “Gritters are out treating our routes but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow is forecast.       

“If you need to make an essential journey, make sure you keep your distance and reduce your speed because, even in conditions that seem normal and the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh salt has not been worked into the carriageway.    

“Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel if they really need to travel.”    

The East of England Ambulance service has also urged the public to stay safe, to avoid putting extra pressure on its already stretched resources.

The Met Office has weather warnings in place for five days from Saturday.

Cold air, along with snow showers to low levels pushing inland from the North Sea, is expected to spread south during the weekend.

Snow showers are forecast to continue across the east from Monday to Wednesday.

Whilst some areas in the warning area will remain largely dry, some persistent bands of showers are likely to develop elsewhere.

Widespread daily accumulations of 2-5 cm are probable, with 10-15 cm possible in areas where showers merge into more organised and prolonged spells of snow.

Icy stretches will likely form widely overnight, especially in areas where there has been a partial melt of lying snow during the daytime.