The UK has experienced its coldest night of the year so far, with temperatures in Scotland dipping below -15C.
Braemar in Aberdeenshire recorded -15.7C overnight, the Met Office said. It came as commuters faced travel chaos on Monday morning as large parts of the UK were hit by ice, fog and snow.
The Met Office issued yellow severe weather alerts due to the wintry conditions. Among locations with fresh snow on Sunday were Andrewsfield in Essex (9cm), Charlwood, Surrey (5cm) and Herstmonceux, East Sussex (4cm). Roads in eastern and south-east England were among the worst affected.
National Highways said the carriageway would be “cleared and treated as soon as possible”. There were delays of up to 90 minutes on neighbouring stretches of the motorway.
Other roads in the area with long delays include the M11, M2, A21, A27 and A249, according to National Highways. Sussex police issued a warning for “treacherous” roads.
The AA president, Edmund King, said the number of breakdown callouts was about 25% higher than normal.
He said: “Many drivers were stranded or severely delayed on the northern section of the M25 last night between London Colney and the M11. Traffic is still severely delayed there this morning due to the continuous snowfall. Roads in Kent were also severely affected, including the M2, and M20. The conditions show that it is essential to be prepared if you are driving.”
He urged drivers to check fuel levels and take warm clothing, a charged mobile phone, food and drink. “The best advice if you must drive is to take it easy and leave a much longer distance from the vehicle in front,” he added.
Several rail lines were closed, with Southeastern issuing a “do not travel” alert to passengers. There was also major disruption to services run by Greater Anglia, South Western Railway and Southern.
Four children were taken to hospital in a critical condition after being rescued from a lake in Solihull in the West Midlands on Sunday afternoon after falling through ice.
Richard Stanton, area commander for West Midlands fire and rescue service, said: “We know that the weather forecast for the next few days is expected to be bitterly cold. Please, adults and children alike, stay away from open water, under no circumstances venture on to ice regardless how thick or safe you think this ice may be.”
Gatwick and Stansted airports closed their runways on Sunday to clear snow. Both airports were open on Monday morning but passengers were warned about the potential for further delays.
London City airport said it was experiencing disruption this morning due to aircraft being out of position after the “significant amount of cancellations” on Sunday night.
The Met Office has also issued a weather warning for ice in eastern and south-east England until 11am on Tuesday. There was also a warning for wintry showers in many areas of northern Scotland and parts of north-east England for 48 hours from midday on Tuesday.
The Met Office meteorologist Rachel Ayers said: “It will continue to be a very cold day, with maximum temperatures of 1C to 4C on Sunday, and, as we head into the evening, we see persistent rain, sleet or snow in the far south-east of England, which is what we have a yellow warning out for from 6pm on Sunday.
“We could see 2cm to 5cm (of snow), perhaps up to 10cm in some places, with Kent and Sussex most affected, with areas most exposed such as North and South Downs and higher ground going to see the more significant accumulations.
“There will be ice forming, particularly near to the coast where there is rain and sleet, and freezing temperatures which could cause some travel disruption to start Monday with that valid until 9am.”
Ayers said that although cold temperatures, freezing fog and wintry showers were expected through the week, cloud cover could prevent some of the more extreme temperatures experienced in recent days.
She added that there was a possibility of slightly milder conditions arriving next weekend but it was too early to be certain.
The AA advised motorists to adjust their driving to the freezing conditions on Monday morning.
Source: The Guardian