Snow and ice to make roads treacherous again in Leicestershire
It might be the first week of spring, but 10cm of snow and temperatures feeling as low as -7C are predicted for Leicestershire.
Forecasters are expecting heavy snowfall today and tomorrow, with freezing temperatures expected throughout the weekend and the start of next week.
This month is already on track to be the coldest March since 1962, contrasting with this time last year when Leicestershire was enjoying temperatures of up to 22C.
Gritters were out in force last night and motorists were advised to take care on the roads.
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The warnings comes amid fears the weather could case major disruption to the travel network, similar to the rush-hour gridlock in the city when six inches of snow fell on January 18.
Leicester Mercury weatherman Dave Mutton, who is predicting we will be waiting until mid-April for more spring-like weather, said: "Winter is back with a vengeance, so people shouldn't be putting their thermals away just yet.
"We could be seeing up to 10cm of snow settling in some parts. The roads will probably be slow again and then all weekend it's going to be bitterly cold with frost.
The return of the big freeze has been prompted by a band of rain clouds moving east, which was due to collide with a patch of icy air last night.
The Met Office said the temperature could drop as low as -3C (26F) on Monday, which with the wind chill factor could feel like -7C (19F).
Dave said: "So far, the average temperature has been 5C lower than the average we expect for March. In March last year it was much hotter – we had temperatures up to 22C (72F)."
He said the record for the snowiest March day in Leicestershire could possibly fall this weekend.
The current record is 20cm (8in), which fell on March 4, 1970.
The AA is warning of a risk of major travel disruption and hazardous driving conditions.
Darron Burness, the organisation's head of special operations, said: "It's going to be a real witch's brew of driving wind, rain and snow, which will inevitably cause disruption on the roads.
"Drivers should be well prepared, as even short journeys can quickly turn bad.
"Keep your speed down, as visibility could be seriously reduced and there's a risk of localised flooding – and motorists should just stay out of flood water.
"Also, with temperatures set to remain low, any snow that settles will likely persist for several days, so be wary of icy patches."
Last night, both the county and city councils had their gritters out.
Leicestershire County Council has 3,000 tonnes of grit in stock and has ordered another 1,500 tonnes, due to begin arriving on Monday.
Lesley Pendleton, county council cabinet member for environment and transport, said: "We are geared up to keep the road network up and running during icy and snowy weather.
"Our gritters are ready to roll and we have been monitoring our grit levels throughout the winter to ensure we have enough.
"In snowy weather, we would advise people to take a bit of time to plan journeys and give themselves a more time to get from A to B."
Leicester City Council said: "We have 1,250 tonnes of salt in our stocks, which is enough to cover us for 10 days of snow or 50 icy nights."
Update 9am: Just one school in Leicestershire has closed because of the weather. Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, in Whitwick, closed to all pupils. However, staff would be on site to meet pupils returning from a school residential.
• More to follow
Update 11.15am: The Loros Twilight Walk which was due to take place tomorrow has been postponed. More details here.
• See the Met Office website: www.metoffice.gov.uk
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It was tricky commute into Leicester this morning for some of us...