Forecasters have issued a cold weather alert warning of the increased risk to the health of vulnerable people as the UK braces itself for one of the coldest spells of weather in years.
The so-called 'Beast from the East' is expected to bring bitterly cold temperatures, ice and possibly snow over the next week and the Met Office has issued a level three cold weather alert - just one step away from declaring a national emergency.
Forecasters said there was a 99 per cent probability of 'sever cold weather, icy conditions and heavy snow' between now and Thursday, March 1 and warned of the impacts the weather could have on vulnerable people and the possibility of disruption to the deliver of services.
The Met Office said: "Cold weather is currently established across the country with widespread overnight frosts. However, colder conditions are expected to extend westwards across England during the weekend bringing a significant, and prolonged period of wintry weather.
"Whilst temperatures are likely to recover slightly by day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with some sunshine, there will be a notable wind chill, especially in the southeast. During Monday and Tuesday, snow showers are expected to move into eastern areas, before spreading westwards across England.
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"These have the potential to align into bands, bringing some significant accumulations. Not everyone will see snowfall, however 5-10cm is possible where showers do line up, with the greatest risk across eastern and southeastern counties. These will also be accompanied by bitterly cold temperatures, and a significant wind chill.
"These cold, wintry conditions are then expected to continue Wednesday, and likely beyond, however confidence is low regarding any details at this stage."