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Britain closes down as snow worsens

Frozen Britain endured another blast of snow and ice as sub-zero temperatures forced public transport, motorways and commuters to grind to a halt.

Two major airports - Edinburgh and London Gatwick - were closed all day and at least two people died in accidents relating to the icy conditions.

Fresh snow, as deep as 40cm (16ins) in some areas of England, fell throughout the day during what forecasters described as the coldest December 1 on record with no hope of respite over the next few days.

Temperatures fell to minus 21.1C in the Scottish Highlands and the Met Office issued severe weather warnings for Scotland and the east of England, including Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London.

Forecasters warned that the cold snap could be with us until at least the weekend, with only a brief let-up from the snow on Thursday night.

Michael Dukes, forecast manager for MeteoGroup, the Press Association's weather service, said: "Tonight there will be a band of snow across southern England, which will be heaviest south of the M4 corridor.

"There will be snow showers across the eastern half of the country, in the north Midlands, Yorkshire, east Cumbria, Durham and eastern Scotland, where there is much of the same to come.

"The focus is on the populated areas of south-east England which don't tend to cope very well with extreme weather conditions."

He said that there is likely to be lots of snow on the ground on Thursday with a break in snowfall after that.

The next onslaught will hit western Scotland and Northern Ireland on Friday morning, when a band of low pressure from the Atlantic will bring a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain across the country.

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