By Zoe Fripp
The snowstorm referred to as ‘the beast from the east’ is expected to bring the lowest recorded temperatures for this time of year since 1986, and freezing conditions in the South-East of England and across the east coast for the rest of this week.
Yellow and amber weather warnings have been put in place by the Met Office for England, Scotland and Wales as it is predicted that up to 15cm of snow could fall in certain parts of the UK and temperatures are expected to plummet below freezing.
The weather is expected to cause mass disruption, with school leaders emphasising that the safety of the pupils and staff should take priority, with school closures expected to take place.
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “Schools should stay open if they possibly can, but safety concerns are the most important. If it’s not safe for the school to be open, then it is fine to close. It is a safety issue for us first and foremost.
“You have to take into consideration journeys at the beginning and the end of the day, as conditions may change whilst the school is open. It is important that staff and parents can get home at the end of the day as well.”
All forms of transport are expected to be affected by the weather conditions, with officials warning that people should avoid travelling whenever possible, whether that be motorists or commuters on the trains. The public is also being warned to phone ahead to the airports if they are expecting to fly within the next week, to find out if their flight has been cancelled.
NHS England has also put out warnings, issuing a level 3 cold weather alert, where the public has been told to look out for the elderly during the cold weather and try and help the homeless wherever possible by directing them to the nearest shelter.
The Portuguese weather service has also warned of ‘Storm Emma’ which is expected to move through Europe and hit the UK on Friday, bringing blizzards, gales and heavy rain.
Frank Saunders, the Met Office’s Chief Forecaster, said: “Parts of England and Wales are likely to see their coldest spell of weather since at least 2013, and possibly since 1991.”