Significant “disruptive snowfall” and gale force winds are forecast to affect south-east England and East Anglia as Storm Darcy brings bitterly cold conditions to much of the nation.
Amber and yellow weather warnings of snow have been issued by the Met Office for Sunday and Monday morning, suggesting there could be widespread travel problems and possible power cuts in parts of London, the east and south-east of England.
Places affected by the amber warning include Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Kent, which could see “widespread, persistent and occasionally heavy snow”, as well as 40-50mph gusts that could cause snowdrifts through to Monday morning.
Strong easterly winds from Ukraine and the Black Sea area spilling across the UK on Sunday will feel “bitterly cold”, but the chill will not be as bitingly sharp as it was with the “Beast from the East” in 2018, the Met Office said.
The forecasters predicted up to 30cm of snow in the Kent Downs and the North Downs, while many parts of Scotland and north-east England could be hit by 2-5cm of snow, with 10-15cm possible in higher regions above 200 metres.
Various warnings for snow and ice across the eastern length of Britain are in place until Wednesday.
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.”
Kent added that it was to be expected that some roads would be closed or blocked by the drifting snow, and said long delays or some cancellations of public transport were likely.
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 while the strong winds will make it feel even colder.
Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the whole of England from Saturday 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.”