SOUTH Yorkshire is being warned to brace itself for the first big snow fall of the winter - with up to 5cms predicted over the next 24-hours.
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Temperatures are expected to plummet to two degrees on Monday, dropping to minus three through the night.
Sheffield Council have deployed a fleet of gritters to lay salt on the city’s main roads and priority routes.
The council insists it is prepared to tackle severe winter weather after investing in 21 new gritters, 24 snow ploughs, 26 tractor ploughs, a new snow-blower and stockpiles of grit in two locations as part of the Streets Ahead project.
A spokeswoman for Sheffield Council said: “We carried out salting on all primary and secondary routes in Sheffield as a precautionary measure.
“We will be keeping an eye on the weather forecast and will respond accordingly.
“There is a full team of gritters on standby.”
Coun Jack Scott, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “As well as our gritters, we’re able to draft in other Streets Ahead staff to help clear snow and ice on key walking routes in the city centre, surrounding Sheffield’s hospitals and major shopping areas.
“We are prepared - I’d urge everyone to be prepared too.”
Most of the UK will see between 2cm and 5cm settle while some parts of Yorkshire may see up to 10cm.
Cold weather will take hold of all the UK, but southern England and Wales is likely to be spared snow.
The Met Office has a level two weather warning in place until Tuesday covering the whole of England, alerting residents to ice, snow and bitter temperatures.
It said: “This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.”
Temperatures were low across the UK overnight, with the lowest reading minus 6C at Shap in Cumbria at 3am.
Ms Caldwell said: “There were below zero readings in many parts of England and Wales, though in southern England it was a little milder, with readings of 2C and 3C, and even some 4s and 5s in the south west.”
The cold weather is expected to linger for the rest of the week with the possibility of more snow flurries in central and eastern England.
While snow showers are unlikely to continue beyond Monday, the cold snap will cause icy temperatures for the remainder of the week.
Paul Knott, weather forecaster for the MeteoGroup, said: “There is some snow coming through from the west which will lead to a small covering in Sheffield and parts of South Yorkshire.
“Through Monday night there will be scattered snow showers but on Tuesday and Wednesday that snow will start to move away.
“Despite that, the temperatures will stay very cold as the week goes on and it could still be quite icy.”
People are urged to wrap up warm, avoid unnecessary trips, and take extra care.
Ken Wheat, manager of South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: “While councils may be out gritting the roads, drivers and riders still need to be considerate of unexpected ice or snow.
“The speed limit is a maximum, not a target, and you should always drive at an appropriate speed for conditions on the road.
“Bad weather is a real danger to all road users, and if the weather does turn for the worse you should consider if your journey is essential or not.”
Supt Eddie Murphy, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Carrying warm clothing and blankets in your car at this time of year is vital.
“If your car breaks down you must always get out of the vehicle and get as far away from the roadside as possible, particularly as there is a higher risk of vehicles skidding off the road at this time of year.”
The AA has warned that 75% of drivers are not prepared for conditions on the roads, and urged drivers to carry an essential winter kit and check their cars before getting behind the wheel.
The RAC is expecting up to 56,000 breakdowns and widespread disruption. It has placed extra patrols on stand-by to help stranded motorists and said call-outs are expected to rise by 20% or more.
The Highways Agency has said it is “well prepared” for winter conditions.
A spokeswoman said: “We have a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art winter vehicles on standby, supported by tried-and-tested winter resilience plans.
“We have reviewed salt stock levels and taken action where needed to enhance our resilience and we have again established a reserve salt stock to help ensure that there is enough salt to deal with severe winter.
“Our roads will be treated whenever there is a risk of ice or snow. However, even when roads have been treated, drivers should still take care, especially on stretches where the local road layout or landscape means there could be a greater risk of ice forming.”
People woke up to snow in Scotland today as falls began which will bring a taste of winter to large areas of Britain over the next 48 hours.
Snow began in the north west of Scotland during the evening and moved to other areas north of the border during the night.
Laura Caldwell, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “There have been accumulations of a few centimetres in parts of Scotland and the snow is expected to move into northern England and as far south as the Midlands during the day.”
Save the Children’s head of UK policy, Chris Wellings, said: “The poorest families will struggle to cope with this cold snap. Parents on low incomes are already struggling to afford even basic essentials such as warm winter clothing and a hot meal every day for their children as living costs continue to rise.
“As temperatures plummets many simply don’t have the money to heat their homes. The Government must ensure that the poorest families can afford to keep warm.”