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11:10am UK, Saturday February 11, 2012
Half-term holidaymakers have been warned about treacherous road conditions and the risk of “frozen” fuel after temperatures sank close to -20C on the coldest night of the winter so far.
Chesham, in Buckinghamshire, felt the brunt of the chill overnight, where the mercury plummeted to a low of -18.2C – the coldest temperature recorded since December 2010.
Temperatures sank to -16C in Lincolnshire and -14C at Stansted, in Essex.
People heading off on half-term getaways are urged to be careful of “deceptively dangerous” road conditions, as sub-zero temperatures lead to hardened snow on the ground.
Forecasters have predicted hard frosts and black ice just days after the Met Office issued a “yellow” weather warning for ice and snow.
The AA has also cautioned Britons driving to bitterly cold mainland Europe for ski breaks, where they face the risk of “frozen” diesel fuel in vehicles.
London, south-eastern areas and the Midlands will struggle to get above freezing on Saturday – but the bitterly cold weather has not deterred a number of hardy swimmers from taking a dip in the partially ice-covered waters at the Serpentine, in London’s Hyde Park.
Saturday night is set to be another cold one in England with temperatures in London and the Midlands falling to around -6C, and milder temperatures likely on Sunday.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, said: “There are still treacherous conditions on many local roads around the country.
“We found that even on local roads that had been gritted, the rain washed off the grit and turned to sheet ice.”
Heathrow Airport has said there is no expected disruption to flights over the weekend as skiers head to the slopes.
But there has been disruption on the sporting front, with freezing weather leading to the cancellation of a number of this weekend’s sporting fixtures – including Crystal Palace’s postponed Championship clash with Doncaster and a number of games in League One and League Two axed.
Race meetings at Newbury, Uttoxeter and Warwick have also fallen victim to the cold snap.
Officials at the British Horseracing Authority reached a deal to ensure that the major races from the abandoned card at Newbury will be rescheduled for February 17.