UK snow cold
Cars driving through snow on the northbound carriageway of the M5 motorway near Taunton, which has been reduced to two lanes due to snow, as parts of the UK wake up to snow and a yellow weather warning, Wednesday March 8, 2023. Image Credit: PA via Reuters

London: Dozens of flights were suspended in the UK and some schools had to close on Wednesday as snow blanketed much of the country.

Britain’s national weather agency, the Met Office, said temperatures in the Scottish Highlands dropped to minus 15.4 degrees Celsius overnight, the coldest night recorded this year so far. Freezing Arctic air is expected to blast the UK for the rest of the week, it added, warning of travel disruptions and power cuts in rural regions in the north.

Bristol Airport in southwest England was temporarily closed for snow clearing and all flights were suspended Wednesday morning. In London, Gatwick Airport said some passengers experienced minor delays.

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In Wales, dozens of schools were closed amid heavy snowfall.

The Met Office said the unsettled weather was a result of a clash between an Arctic maritime air mass and milder Atlantic air. Sleet, snow and freezing temperatures will continue to affect most areas of the UK until Friday, it said.

The weather office said it wasn’t particularly unusual for such a cold snap to hit the country in spring, when conditions are often highly variable. Statistically, it said, snow is marginally more likely in March than it is in December in Britain.

St Mary's Church in Goathland, North Yorkshire cold snow UK
St Mary's Church in Goathland, North Yorkshire, is surrounded by snow as weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across all four nations of the UK and more are expected to be issued as Arctic air sweeps across the country, Tuesday March 7, 2023. Image Credit: PA via Reuters

Heavy snow also disrupted some travel in Sweden Wednesday.

About a dozen flights were cancelled or delayed at Stockholm Airport, and Stockholm public transport operator SL said some bus and rail services were also affected.

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute issued a yellow warning, the lowest of its three warnings, for continued difficult weather on Wednesday.

After a mild winter helped ease an energy crunch in the UK and Europe, the cold snap during the final weeks of the heating season is putting pressure on energy infrastructure. The National Grid Plc was forced to use a coal reserve on Tuesday for the first time, but it’s not expecting to need that extra supply Wednesday with wind generation increasing.

Cold conditions have hit other northern European countries with stormy weather heading for Germany, according to forecaster DWD. Meteo France forecast snow for the north of the country.

The Swedish national weather forecaster SMHI issued an orange weather warning for Stockholm on Wednesday. As much as 25 centimeters of snow was expected on Tuesday and Wednesday in the city, the forecaster said. That’s disrupted commuters, with widespread bus and train cancellations.

“Power cuts are likely in areas where grids run above ground, which will also impact mobile networks for telecommunications,” SMHI said.

Further north, temperatures plunged to as low as -22C in Kiruna, north of the Arctic Circle, according to SMHI.

Still, the number of heating days for Europe for the next five days is 59.5 according to Maxar. This is below the 10-year norm, with warm weather across the south of the region.