UK weather – 'Heavy' snow may block ambulances as Storm Darcy hits Britain with 30cm white stuff and 55mph winds today

SNOW has blanketed parts of the South-East as up to a foot of the white stuff is set to bring travel chaos today as Storm Darcy continues to batter the country.

It could see ambulances struggle to get through as heavy snowfall hits some areas, with icy conditions also wreaking havoc on the roads as temperatures plummet below freezing.

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Bitterly cold winds of up to 55mph will grip much of the nation today as strong easterly gusts from Ukraine and the Black Sea area spill across the UK.

The Met Office has issued amber and yellow weather warnings, with the country braced for chilling sub-zero temperatures.

Blizzards have already hit Kent and parts of London, including Hampstead Heath, as well as more northern areas such as Durham.

Gritters are battling to keep the country's roads as clear as possible, while runners and dog walkers have been spotted grappling with icy conditions.

Forecasters have warned of "significant disruptive snowfall" and gale force winds in the South-East of England, with up to 30cm of snow possible in the Downs of Kent and the North Downs.

Such heavy snow is expected to bring widespread travel issues, especially inthe south-east and East Anglia, as well as power cuts in parts of London and the east.

But the chill will not be as bitingly sharp as it was with the Beast from the East in 2018, according to the Met Office.

Various warnings for snow and ice across the eastern length of Britain are in place until Wednesday.

Glasgow City Council said it had sent its gritters on Saturday night to outlying priority routes and areas around vaccine centres in light of the "chilly" time ahead.

It comes as many parts of Scotland and north-east England could see 2cm to 5cm of snow, with 10cm to 15cm possible in regions above 200m.

Heavy disruptive snow is expected in south-east England along with 40-50mph wind gusts that could cause snowdrifts from Sunday through to Monday morning, according to the Met Office.

Meteorologist Sarah Kent said: "There will be significant disruptive snowfall across the South East.

"Within this area, there is a small chance particularly over the Downs of Kent and the North Downs that you could see 25-30cm of snow.

"It is a small chance but the threat is there, up to a foot of snow potentially combined with extremely strong easterly winds. Even inland in that area, gusting could be 45mph and higher than that on the coasts.

"This could lead to significant drifting of any lying snow and obviously blizzards for the snow coming past you for anyone who is attempting to travel.

"Sadly there will be people who have to make journeys for the emergency services and there are still lorries that have to go to the ports. It is going to be really disruptive.

"With that sort of snowfall, you would expect some roads to be closed or blocked by the drifting snow, and long delays or some cancellations of public transport."

She added: "We are only looking at significant snowfall tomorrow across the south-east of England, so while we have these cold easterly winds it is not as widespread as the Beast from the East in 2018.

"The easterly winds originate from Ukraine and the Black Sea – eastern Europe – the air will be cold but it will not be as bitingly cold as it was back in 2018."

The Met Office said the Dutch have named the low-pressure system that will bring strong winds and widespread snow to south east England today as Storm Darcy.

Places affected by the amber warning and expected to be hit by Darcy include Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.

Roads may become blocked by deep snow, with the possibility of stranded vehicles and passengers.

Daytime temperatures will stay in low single figures for much of the country, with some places staying below freezing and the bitter winds making it feel even colder.

In London, temperatures will not rise above 1C.

Public Health England has issued a cold weather alert for the whole of England through to Wednesday.

Dr Owen Landeg, of PHE, said: "Cold weather isn't just uncomfortable, it can have a serious impact on health.

"For older people and those with heart and lung problems, it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

"So it's really crucial at this time, especially ahead of a potentially very cold snap, to remember to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses."

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