British commuters will have to battle dangerous conditions to get home tonight with severe weather warnings in place across the country.
Critical transport systems across northern England, Wales, and Scotland could be ground to a halt as railway lines and roads are buried in up to eight inches of snow.
Severe weather is already wreaking havoc for travellers with Heathrow airport cancelling 80 flights this morning.
Further disruption and delays are expected up and down the country as key transport infrastructure struggles to cope.
Meanwhile, the Army has been put on standby to help communities stricken by the intense spell of cold weather.
Weather boffins told Daily Star Online the wicked weather is being driven by a “Polar air mass” sweeping in from Canada and Greenland.
Met Office forecasters have today warned strong winds of up to 60mph will drive “heavy, squally wintry showers” and icy hail throughout Thursday.
In London it wanred there is a “high risk” of up to four inches snow from midday, with the worst of it lashing commuters during rush hour.
A Met Office forecaster said: “The main concern for Thursday is the risk of snow.
“Initially we were uncertain that it would happen but now it is looking pretty likely.”
A “yellow” warning will remain in place across the country until midnight tonight.
It reads: “Many of the showers will fall as snow away from western coasts, with ice, hail and lightning posing additional hazards. 10-20 cm of snow may accumulate over some higher ground during the day, with drifting and blizzard conditions at times.
“Several cm of snow may affect some lower-lying areas. Road and rail services may be affected with delays and cancellations possible.
“Expect longer journey times. This warning has been updated to extend the main risk of impacts slightly further east across parts of southern Scotland.”
Forecasters have revealed thundersnow, a phenomenon of gale force winds and stormy conditions meshing to produce snow, struck last night.
It hit as temperatures nosedived to a bone-chilling -10C after weather officials put in place an “alert and readiness” cold weather warning from yesterday to Sunday morning.
Paul Gundersen, chief meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “Southern counties of England and Wales can expect a cold and wet day with some heavy rain on Thursday, but there’s an increasing chance this will turn to sleet or snow, especially over hills, during the afternoon and evening.
“There is a chance of snow settling bringing disruption to transport during the evening rush hour and possibly interruptions to power supplies, this more likely across East Anglia and south-east England.
“As skies clear on Thursday night it is likely to become icy in many areas.”
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