The worst November snow for 17 years hit Britain yesterday shutting dozens of schools, closing roads and bringing chaos for millions of drivers.
Up to six inches fell in parts of the country as bitter Arctic winds brought an early taste of winter.
Last night forecasters warned the Big Chill could last for at least a fortnight and that more snow and ice were on the way over the next few days.
‘This is the most widespread November snow since 1993,’ said Met Office spokesman Dave Britton.
‘The snow will spread south over the next few days and we could get ten inches on high ground.
‘Next week it’s going to turn colder and it will stay cold. The winds will be picking up and will come from the east so it will feel very raw.’
Temperatures could drop to -6c (21f) over the next few days, far lower than normal for November.
The mercury is unlikely to rise much above 2c to 5c (36f to 41f) during the day, and could be lower in exposed areas.
Millions woke to wintry scenes and freezing temperatures yesterday as snow ploughs and gritters were out in force.
Scotland saw the worst of the snow, with six inches falling overnight in Aberdeenshire, while Durham and Newcastle had four inches. Although the North and East were worst hit, there were wintery showers as far apart as Cornwall, Wales and the Midlands.
Children in Northumbria and North Yorkshire got an unexpected holiday as 50 schools were forced to shut for the day.
And the ice and snow brought havoc to the roads.
The AA said it was called to around 14,000 breakdowns – a 50 per cent increase on a normal November working day. Spokesman Paul Leather said motorists should carry warm clothing and a fully charged mobile phone.
He added: ‘Our concern is black ice. If possible, people should stick to the gritted main roads and keep their speed down.’
Many cars were trapped in the snowassault
The charity Living Streets urged councils to use volunteers to keep pavements gritted after last year’s icy conditions caused 7,000 hospital admissions.
Chief executive Tony Armstrong said: ‘We are issuing an ice warning to local authorities to take the needs of people on foot seriously.
Last winter, we were shocked to hear a number of stories from older people who did not leave their house for days for fear of slipping.’
Last night, the Met Office issued weather warnings for icy roads and heavy snow across the North-East, Yorkshire, East Midlands, the East and South West of England – as well as parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Snow is forecast to spread south by Saturday, when it could reach Kent and London.
Higher ground could see ten inches by the weekend.
According to the Met Office, nine of the past 50 Novembers have had snowfall of at least 11.8in. In 1993, the Highlands had around 12in, while North Yorkshire had 10.5in.
The big chill is being caused by a ridge of high pressure over Greenland which has brought cold air down from Scandinavia.
And the Met Office’s long-range forecast says the cold conditions are likely to continue in the run up to Christmas – with a risk of more sleet, snow and hard frosts.