UK weather: Five days of snow and travel chaos expected as freezing temperatures hit London

Commuters were hit with the first of an expected five days of snow and travel chaos today as the “Beast from the East” enveloped London in sub-zero temperatures.

The vortex of cold air from Siberia will leave parts of the UK colder than the Arctic Circle this week with forecasters predicting further heavy snowfall and temperatures feeling as cold as -9C on Thursday.

Rail commuters heading south-east from the capital were urged to complete their journeys by 6pm today in anticipation of the severe conditions.

More than 100,000 tonnes of grit was ready to be used in London to keep main roads, bus routes and roads leading to hospitals and fire stations open. 

February 2018: London Snow – In pictures


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn


Jeremy Selwyn

Travellers heading into London this morning suffered disruption with delays on the Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines due to power problems and signal failures. 

South Western, which carries more than 300,000 passengers a day, a third into mainline Waterloo, warned of delayed and cancelled services to come. It said “Poor weather conditions including snow and ice have been forecast… we will be taking appropriate action overt the next few days.”

South Eastern, which operates services into Charing Cross, Cannon Street and London Bridge, said passengers should aim to get home before 6pm today: “Whether it snows or not, poor conditions caused by severe storms, frost or ice can hamper our ability to run trains safely.”

Greater Anglia, which includes services into Liverpool Street, said all its trains would stop running from 10 pm tonight because of the “Beast from the East”. For tomorrow and Wednesday a reduced service will operate between 6 am and 10 pm – with decisions later on further cancellations for the remainder of the week.

Empty trains will run throughout the nights this week in an effort to keep the tracks clear.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We will have extra staff working around the clock in order to keep main lines as clear as possible but while we will do everything we can to keep people moving, some lines may be closed and services will be subject to delays and cancellations.”

Icy blast: commuters on London Bridge (Jeremy Selwyn)

The UK’s rail watchdog said train companies should “do more” to understand the frustrations of passengers.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “We know there can be frustration when trains are cancelled and timetables altered for snow that doesn’t appear or is lighter than predicted – the industry needs to better communicate why the decisions are made when they are.”

Gareth Powell, TfL managing director of surface transport, said “everything possible” was being done to keep rail, Tube and bus services running.

The Met Office has issued yellow ‘be aware’ warnings for snow for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of the “coldest week in five years”. 

Met Office Meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “Tonight it’s going to be cold again, dropping to -3C or -4C with largely clear skies for much of the night before tomorrow morning when we will see a few snow shower towards the east of London, including eastern parts of the M25.” 

Vintage Winter: London in the Snow – In pictures


29th December 1962: A skier being pulled along behind a car in Earl’s Court, London

Teerry Fincher & Michael Stroud/Express/Getty Images


19th January 1942: Two ATS girls enjoying the snow on their toboggan at a gun site in London

Keystone/Getty Images


circa 1931: A group of gents enjoy an impromptu snowball fight in the serene and stately setting of a still and snow covered Trafalgar Square, London

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


circa 1935: Two children making a snowman complete with ‘hair’ in Finsbury Park, London

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


circa 1935: A group of swimmers having a snowball fight in swimming costumes at Kenwood, London

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


30th January 1912: Children playing with snowballs in Hampstead Heath, London

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


February 1915: A taxi and a bus in the snow at Trafalgar Square in London

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


December 1923: Three children turn over on their toboggan as they enjoy the snow in Brixton, London

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


1926: Two skiers in Hyde Park seem to be thinking of taking a taxi

Fox Photos/Getty Images


January 1926: Youngsters being pulled along by a girl on a motorbike on snowbound Hampstead Heath, London

Getty Images


16th January 1929: A snow ball fight in Hyde Park

H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


circa 1930: St Paul’s cathedral rising above the snow covered roofs of the city of London

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


27th February 1931: Deer in a London park graze on snowy ground

Fox Photos/Getty Images


29th December 1931: Little Gwen Bearn pulls her sledge laden with snowballs across London’s Hampstead Heath one snowy morning

Fox Photos/Getty Images


25th February 1933: A lone policeman walks along the snow covered Embankment in London

Fox Photos/Getty Images


9th March 1931: Snow bound traffic in London’s Oxford Street

Douglas Miller/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


14th February 1938: People walking down the Strand in London during a snow fall

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on a snowy day in London, 1939.

Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


19th December 1946: A telegram boy with an armful of snowballs in Trafalgar Square

Harrison /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


2nd March 1954: A young girl being hit by a snowball whilst playing in St James Park, London, after a night of heavy snowfall

Monty Fresco/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


17th January 1942: England centre-forward Tommy Lawton heads the ball past Scotland’s goalkeeper Dawson to score for England during an international match at Wembley Stadium on behalf of the Aid to Russia Fund. Bill Shankly is on the left (dark shirt) and Sir Matt Busby is to the left of Lawton. (Photo by M. McNeill/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

M. McNeill/Fox Photos/Getty Images


4th January 1955: Guards march to St James’ Palace, London, for the changing of the guard through the first snow of winter

J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


21st January 1958: Peter Foges (left) and Thomas Bostock take their toboggans out onto Hampstead Heath during a snowy spell

Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


21st January 1958: A snowball fight in a school playground in Chiswick, London

Evening Standard


21st January 1958: A boy pushing his younger friends along the street in a home-made toboggan during a snowy winter in Ilford

Ron Burton/Keystone/Getty Images


1962: A keeper counting the penguins at the annual count up of animals in London Zoo

Evening Standard


29th December 1962: A milkman doing his deliveries on skis at Earl’s Court, London

erry Fincher & Michael Stroud/Express/Getty Images


26th February 1962: With his helmet lightly covered with snow a police constable directs traffic on a practically deserted Ludgate Hill looking towards St Paul’s.

Aubrey Hart


A family braving the weather as they walk past St Paul’s Cathedral, London, during a snow storm

Evening Standard


20th November 1965: A policeman directs traffic on a snowy day in Ludgate Circus, London as a frozen food van drives past.

Sydney O’Meara


A postman on his round in the snow. St Paul’s Cathedral can be seen in the background

Evening Standard


Lunchtime workers waiting to cross the road at High Holborn, London are caught in an April snowstorm

Fred Mott/Getty Images


A traffic policeman on point duty at Ludgate Circus, London, during a snow storm

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


A wintry scene on London’s Hampstead Heath, with people skiing and tobogganing in the snow

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


2nd April 1968: London Zoo’s famous polar bear ‘Pipaluk’ snuggles up to its mother during snowfall. (Photo by Ron Case/Keystone/Getty Images)

Ron Case/Keystone/Getty


A groundsman sweeps snow away from the goal line at Craven Cottage, London, before a FA Cup tie replay between Fulham and Everton

Getty Images


Guards play football in the snow at the Tower of London

Fox Photos/Getty Images

He said snowfall could be “quite frequent and persistent” on Tuesday, while further wintry showers were expected for Wednesday.

“On Thursday, it will be windy and feel very cold. The temperatures will barely climb above freezing but it will feel as if it is between -5C or -10C,” he added.

“Significant snow is forecast overnight into Friday coming from the South West. A few centimetres of lying snow is expected for people waking up on Friday morning.”

Dr Thomas Waite, of Public Health England’s extreme events team said: “It’s critical that if you know anyone over 65, with young children or who has heart or lung conditions, that you keep an eye on them and think what help they may need. Staying warm by heating your home to at least 18C can be crucial to staying well.”

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