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Plunging temperatures prompt warning that 'cold does kill'

Published 28/11/2016

A man enjoys an early walk in the morning sun at Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear
A man enjoys an early walk in the morning sun at Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear

Low temperatures heralding the arrival of winter have prompted health officials to warn that cold weather can be fatal.

A widespread frost is expected and a new survey of highways bosses shows that councils have stockpiled 1.2 million tonnes of salt to prepare for the months ahead.

Public Health England is calling on people to prepare for the chilly snap, warning that the "cold does kill".

The mercury will fall under starry skies on Monday night, with most of England seeing temperatures fall to as low as minus 4C (28F), with London seeing temperatures falling to a potential low of minus 3C (26.6F).

Scotland is forecast to see a low of minus 5C (23F) - but rural areas are likely to be even colder, while Northern Ireland will face temperatures of 0C (32F), with rural areas similarly expected to plummet lower.

Dr Angie Bone, from the extreme events team at Public Health England, said: "Cold does kill, even in places where the temperatures aren't at their lowest.

"Now is the time to prepare for the cold weather forecast by the Met Office, and to think of those you know who are older, very young, or have pre-existing health conditions who are particularly vulnerable."

Andy Page, chief operational meterologist at the Met Office, said: "High pressure will bring generally dry and settled conditions this week, with clear skies and light winds allowing a widespread frost to occur on Monday and Tuesday night.

"From Wednesday onwards, cloudier and slightly less cold conditions will arrive across northern England, therefore overnight frosts will become fewer and less severe in the north but cold weather may persist across the south where skies remain clearer.

"Looking ahead into December and beyond, there are indications that a cold start to winter is more likely than normal, but this doesn't guarantee snow nor does it mean we won't see spells of mild and wet weather at times."

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association's (LGA) annual winter readiness survey shows that councils are well prepared for plummeting temperatures with a substantial stock of grit.

About half are at the limit of storage capacity, and the LGA said gritters will be out treating thousands of miles of roads whenever overnight temperatures drop below zero in the coming days.

Councillor Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: "Councils are fully prepared to protect residents and minimise disruption ... caused by the drop in temperatures.

"They are constantly monitoring up-to-the-minute weather reports to make sure they can stay one step ahead of the weather.

"We are well prepared for the cold, with 1.2 million tonnes of salt stockpiled and a fleet of state-of-the-art gritters ready to be deployed."

December 1 marks the beginning of meteorological winter, which lasts until February 1.

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