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A freezing front from the west is due to create chaos for huge swathes of northern England and Scotland from today.
Urgent and multiple yellow weather warnings for snow and ice have been issued by the Met Office.
Forecasters say 80mph winds could create “localised blizzard conditions”, power outages and travel delays, plus hazardous pavements and roads.
Experts fear snowfall will hit Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cumbria, Merseyside, Yorkshire and Scotland between 10am and 4pm today.
Snow may cause some travel disruption over higher routes, with up to two inches due to settle on land 650ft above sea level, or six inches at 1,300ft.
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Meanwhile, formidable winds are expected to cause drifting and blizzard conditions in the Hebrides and the Scottish coast.
Sub-zero temperatures will then take hold across the nation in the evening before showers, or further dustings of snow, follow tomorrow and Saturday.
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: “As we go into Thursday, temperatures will drop and in some of the sheltered glens in Scotland we could see -10C or even colder temperatures recorded.
“Across the UK there are not going to be many places that will remain above freezing.”
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