Blackouts alert as Britain set to be hit by -10 Arctic freeze

UK weather: Inches of snow could fall in London and South East

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It comes as the Met Office issued a yellow snow and ice warning for London and the South East for tomorrow and Monday.

Forecasters say the UK will suffer at least seven days of Arctic weather, temperatures as low as -10C, winter downpours and freezing fog.

The Energy Networks Association told customers to “prepare, care and share”, in case the lights go out.

Ross Easton, from the group, said: “Prepare by making a personal power cut plan, care by checking in with friends and family who might need extra help, and share this information so others can make a plan.”

The warnings were issued as Europe faces a gas shortage due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The National Grid, tasked with ensuring the country has enough power where it is needed, may also have to warn households to cut electricity usage.

Yesterday, a spokesman downplayed the scale of any imminent threat. But the firm has drawn up emergency plans that would pay people not to use power at peak times.

The new weather alert, which lasts for 24 hours, says 0.7 to nearly two inches of snow could fall widely – and, in some places, there could be up to four inches.

The Met Office also warned of travel delays and injuries from slips on ice, with some communities finding themselves cut off.

The mercury fell as low as -9C in the village of Benson, South Oxfordshire, on Thursday. And yesterday, people in Consett, County Durham, woke to a blanket of snow.

Grahame Madge, of the Met Office, said: “The outlook remains cold for at least the next seven days, with the potential for this to continue longer.

“At the moment the air mass feeding the cold conditions is coming from a northerly direction, even with an Arctic influence.

“However, this mass is also relatively drier, so most of the precipitation is in the form of showers. This has the benefit of bringing quite clear and bright conditions by day for many.”

Mr Madge also warned of hazards including freezing fog in the South, especially tomorrow and Monday morning. He added: “Overnight temperatures are likely to dip widely below zero, with some more sheltered spots dropping to -10C.”

The Energy Networks Association said households should keep power banks used to boost devices like mobile phones, fully charged.

Vulnerable customers should also check if they can sign up to the priority services register. It informs suppliers and grid companies who might need extra support and who relies on electricity to run vital medical equipment at home.

Morgan Vine, of the charity Independent Age, said the prospect of blackouts was “incredibly worrying”.

He said: “Not being able to put the lights on or keep warm enough could put many older people’s health at risk, increasing the chance of falls and making health conditions worse.”

The Warm Welcome Campaign said just over 3,200 “warm banks” run by local authorities and charities for those who cannot afford to heat their homes, were open. Many offer services from tea to a place to work.

Becca Lyon, of Save the Children UK, added: “Families should not be in a position where they are agonising over whether to put the heating on in sub-zero temperatures.”

Those on the lowest incomes in hundreds of English and Welsh districts will receive a £25 Government cold weather payment. They target households in areas where the average temperature has been recorded, or is forecast to be 0C or below over seven consecutive days.

The RAC said Thursday had been an “exceptionally busy day for patrols”, with a quarter more breakdowns than normal for the time of year.

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