UK faces power cuts as Arctic blast plunges temperatures to chilling -17C

Britain could suffer rolling power cuts from the Arctic blast, experts fear.

Emergency plans have been drawn up for blackouts between 5pm and 7pm on different areas on separate days if the National Grid struggles to cope with demand.

It comes as the Met Office was slammed for not giving enough warning of the cold snap that has hit energy supplies.

READ MORE: UK snow map shows exactly where latest weather blizzard will strike before Christmas

Westminster insiders fumed that had experts predicted the big freeze early enough, officials could have stocked up with more gas.

Independent energy analyst Tony Jordan agreed forecasters had been caught “off-guard”, adding: “If you get weather forecasting wrong – especially during extreme conditions – it can be catastrophic.”

One Whitehall source claimed bungling Civil Service forecasters “dramatically underestimated” the scale of the winter chill when they drew up a long-term outlook.

And they failed to predict the extent of the cold snap that has seen temperatures plunge to -17C (1F) in some parts of the country.

Last week the UK used a fifth of all its stored gas in just six days while the European Union used about 4%.

Elsewhere, bookies have slashed the odds on a White Christmas.

Aberdeen is now odds-on to see the white stuff next Sunday for Christmas Day.

Alex Apati, of Ladbrokes, said: “It’s looking increasingly [like] we’ll be treated to a White Christmas this year.”

The Met Office said it outlined a “likely scenario” of cold snaps with the threat of snow and ice in December which “has largely been seen” so far followed by milder weather in January, which it still expects.

An Energy Department spokeswoman said any blackouts plans are only precautionary.

She said: “As a responsible Government, we continually plan for a wide range of potential scenarios, working to prepare robust contingency plans so we minimise any potential impact.

“This is not a direct consequence of the current cold snap.”

Meanwhile, freezing rain and snow battered parts of the nation today (Sunday, December 18) leading to ice building up.

But the mercury is set to soar to 14C tomorrow (Monday, December 19) with the cold snap replaced with warmer weather due to milder air coming in from the Atlantic.

It means Britain is braced for ‘Burst Pipe Monday’, as experts say the thaw will lead to a huge surge in burst water pipes as the free-flowing liquid hits frozen blocks, causing a surge in pressure that can crack copper or plastic plumbing.

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