Heavy snow starts ahead of predicted weather chaos

SNOW has started to fall heavily in the region tonight as residents brace themselves for a predicted white storm which saw the Met Office issue a severe weather warning for the area.

Lizzie Parry

SNOW has started to fall heavily in the region tonight as residents brace themselves for a predicted white storm which saw the Met Office issue a severe weather warning for the area.

The warning, which details a 60 per cent chance of serious disruption with up to 10cm of snow falling in strong winds and the possibility of blizzards, runs from 9pm tonight until midnight on Friday.

It comes as more snow and plummeting temperatures are forecast for the next few days as a weather system continues to move in from the icy depths of Siberia.

But despite the bitterly cold forecast weather experts said it is too early to predict if Suffolk will enjoy its first white Christmas since 1970.

The cold snap crept up on the county on Tuesday night as temperatures dipped to -4C in Wattisham and the outlook over the weekend is for more of the same.

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Weather expert Chris Bell, of Weatherquest, said they had received sporadic reports of snow across Suffolk yesterday.

He said there is the potential, for inland areas in particular, to see more of the white stuff accumulating over the next two days.

Speaking last night, he said: “From Thursday evening there is the potential for snow starting to settle and then again on Friday. We are expecting some places to see around 5cm of snow and there is the potential a few places could see more.

“Right on the coast it is likely to be more sleet and rain but further inland we should see snow settling in most places, whether it is just a dusting or heavier coverage.”

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for the region urging people to be prepared for the wintry showers expected.

Mr Bell said temperatures will stay chilly over the next few nights, ranging from 0C to -4C all the way through to Saturday night, reaching just 4C during the day.

Across the border in Essex, staff at Stansted Airport have been preparing themselves for more snowfalls.

The worst of the inclement weather missed the airport yesterday, , but since September more than 100 staff have been training to use the airport's specialist snow equipment to be ready to clear snow from runways and taxiways.

The Essex airport, which is the third busiest in the UK, has invested millions in snow ploughs, gritters and de-icing machines in a bid to ensure passengers do not face winter disappointment.

- As temperatures drop over the next few weeks, the people of Suffolk are being asked to keep an eye out during the cold winter period for elderly and vulnerable neighbours.

Classic signs that someone is in difficulties are mail or newspapers hanging out of the letterbox, milk bottles left on the doorstep uncollected, a house in darkness when there should be someone at home and curtains remaining closed throughout the day.

If you have any concerns at all about an elderly or vulnerable person living nearby, please knock on the door to check they are alright.

If it snows, check if older people can get to the shops and have what they need in the house.

Encourage people to use their heating, drop in some essential supplies or extra blankets if you can, and make sure that driveways and steps are ice free. If you have serious concerns, contact the emergency services

Councillor Colin Noble, Portfolio holder for Adult and Community Services, said: “The festive and winter period is a time when many older people are at their most vulnerable.

“We would urge anyone with elderly relatives, friends or neighbours to look out for them, help out with small jobs if you can and make sure they are not lonely.

“We can make an important difference by taking the time to make sure they are coping at this more difficult time of the year.”