So will be a white Christmas? Heavy snow blankets Durham with temperatures set to plunge


Britons in the north of England today woke up to a blanket of heavy snow as forecasters warned temperatures are set to plunge this week amid severe warnings from the Met Office of heavy rain, floods and strong winds.

After an unsettled week Christmas morning is expected to have a cold and frosty start, reaching lows of -1C (30F) in parts of southern Scotland and highs of 4C (39F) in London, before light rain or possibly snow is predicted later in the day for parts of northwestern England – just as many will be enjoying a post-lunch walk. 

Today will see heavy rain affecting parts of England and Wales, as a Yellow national severe weather warning for rain remains in place across the majority of southern England and Wales until 6am tomorrow – and almost 100 UK flood alerts are issued. 

Picturesque blankets of white snow appeared over County Durham, north east England, and parts of Cumbria, north west, this morning, raising hopes of a white Christmas for the regions – while most of the country will remain several degrees above freezing.

Christmas Eve, tomorrow, will see rain early on in the south before skies dry up making way for sunny spells for many. Showers will continue for coastal areas, particularly the North Sea Coasts where sleet or snow may be seen – potentially settling on the North York Moors.

Lanehead, County Durham, pictured today after heavy snow fell overnight and throughout the morning

A vehicle braves the roads of County Durham, north east England, where it looks as if a white Christmas might be on the cards

A vehicle braves the roads of County Durham, north east England, where it looks as if a white Christmas might be on the cards

A salt spreader grits the roads in County Durham - for most of the country Christmas Day will be dry, with a chance of showers

A salt spreader grits the roads in County Durham – for most of the country Christmas Day will be dry, with a chance of showers

The wet weather is expected to ease off for the most part on Christmas Day due to an area of high pressure to the West, however parts of southern England and the south midlands will continue to blighted by flooding due to surface water left by ‘heavy and persistent’ rain forecast for tomorrow.   

Sunny spells are likely to appear throughout the early afternoon on Christmas Day, with some showers predicted in the northwest due to increasing cloud cover. 

By the end of the day more unsettled conditions and milder temperatures will return to north-western parts, making way for a return of drizzly weather on Boxing Day. 

Met Office Chief Meteorologist Dan Suri said: ‘The heaviest rain is likely to develop during Wednesday afternoon and evening and continue overnight before clearing away south-eastwards by Thursday morning.

A picturesque wintery scene in County Durham this morning as a blanket of snow fell over the county overnight

A picturesque wintery scene in County Durham this morning as a blanket of snow fell over the county overnight

While floods are blighting parts of Wales, south Midlands and East Anglia, snow has fallen in County Durham

While floods are blighting parts of Wales, south Midlands and East Anglia, snow has fallen in County Durham

A three day weather forecast from the Met Office shows heavy rain today, followed by a break in the wet and windy weather on Christmas Eve, with some showers returning in the north west on Christmas Day and sunny skies appearing in the south

A three day weather forecast from the Met Office shows heavy rain today, followed by a break in the wet and windy weather on Christmas Eve, with some showers returning in the north west on Christmas Day and sunny skies appearing in the south

‘Parts of East Anglia, the Midlands and Wales are likely to see 20-40 mm through this period and some places may see as much as 50-70 mm of rain. There will also be some strong winds during Wednesday evening and overnight. 

‘We expect temperatures to dip from the middle of the week as colder air moves down from the north across the country.’ 

Wet and windy weather will return on Boxing Day, MetOffice forecasters predict, with outbreaks of rain in the northwest moving southwards along with strong winds.

It is likely snow will be seen on higher ground in Scotland, with unsettled weather including heavy showers, winds and some snow on lower Scottish ground predicted for the last days of 2020, up until New Year’s Day.  

Cars make their way through floodwater and past floating debris after heavy rain in Cardiff South Wales

Cars make their way through floodwater and past floating debris after heavy rain in Cardiff South Wales

Flooding in Whitchurch Village in Cardiff after heavy rain overnight and this morning which come on the back of over 10 flood alerts and weather warnings across the country

Flooding in Whitchurch Village in Cardiff after heavy rain overnight and this morning which come on the back of over 10 flood alerts and weather warnings across the country

A flood warning sign at the entrance to a flooded car park beside Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, where flood watches are in place with more wet weather expected in the coming days

A flood warning sign at the entrance to a flooded car park beside Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, where flood watches are in place with more wet weather expected in the coming days

With the Met Office forecasting 4C highs for London on Christmas Day, and lows of -1C the night before, chilly weather could potentially raise concerns that covid-19 rule-breakers will forgo outdoor park meetings with friends and extended family to gather inside. 

Meanwhile severe flooding has hit low lying areas including Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire and Whitchurch Village in Cardiff with a ‘yellow’ alert for heavy rain in place for Southern England, including Devon and Cornwall, and parts of Wales.

Devon County Council warned this morning ‘Lots of rain across the county, specifically over the high ground.

‘Please avoid driving if possible, and if you need to, please drive safely and considerately and take care on the roads.’

Floodwater surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, which remains open despite the high surface water surrounding it, more wet weather is expected in the coming days

Floodwater surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, which remains open despite the high surface water surrounding it, more wet weather is expected in the coming days

A woman and a young boy stand on a high pavement to avoid floodwater surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, this morning

A woman and a young boy stand on a high pavement to avoid floodwater surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, this morning

Tewkesbury Cricket Club is flooded near the centre of town as fields after a flood warning was issued for the River Severn at Severn Ham

Tewkesbury Cricket Club is flooded near the centre of town as fields after a flood warning was issued for the River Severn at Severn Ham

Children's playground equipment pokes out from floodwater surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, this morning

Children’s playground equipment pokes out from floodwater surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, this morning

Devon County Council says it is ‘experiencing a high volume of calls regard flooding’. The council said a short time ago ‘Localised flooding and standing water is to be expected.

‘Report significant flooding issues when lives and property are at risk and when road flooding is deep and impassable. Don’t drive through deep flood water.’

Carol Holt, Flood Duty Manager at the Environment Agency, said: ‘Heavy and persistent rainfall could lead to surface water and river flooding in some communities in the south of England and parts of the south Midlands and East Anglia on Wednesday and Thursday.

‘Environment Agency teams are out on the ground clearing grills and screens and operating flood defences as required. We urge people to keep away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water – it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car.’  

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