Biting winds make London feel colder than the Antarctic
Icy winds could see temperatures in London feel as low as minus 10C tonight, colder than parts of the Antarctic.
Biting easterly gusts will sweep the capital this evening and throughout the weekend, as the big freeze continues to tighten its grip on Britain.
Temperatures will actually be minus 3C during the night, but the winds will make conditions feel much colder. In daytime tomorrow 0C will be more like minus 5C, while overnight into Sunday morning it will again feel like minus 10C — the coldest in London this winter.
Snow is expected to return to the capital on Sunday, when easterly winds will again make the maximum of 1C feel more like minus 4C.
Temperatures across Britain were on a par with the South Pole today after the coldest night of the winter so far.The mercury sank to minus 21.6C in the Scottish Highlands this morning, close to Antarctica's current -22.9C.
Plumbers reported being bombarded with a record number of call-outs and warned they may be overwhelmed.
Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, said there was a growing risk that vulnerable elderly people will die in London with the volume of calls for broken boilers and burst pipes. “If there's another week of this there will undoubtedly be fatalities,” he said.
He believes far more Londoners are completely dependent on their central heating than in previous decades when they might also have had electric fires or oil radiators to keep them warm.
The firm's 140 engineers expect a record 2,000 call-outs this week.
The cold snap continued to wreak havoc on transport networks across London today, with cancellations and delays at airports and on trains, including the Eurostar. Passengers at St Pancras told of their misery, with just over half the Eurostar services running.
Only 17 of the 30 originally scheduled trains were operating from London, Paris and Brussels after a train broke down yesterday because of snow.
Passengers faced delays of up to an hour-and-a-half as Eurostar tried to cope with the backlog. The emergency timetable put in place on Wednesday is expected to run until Sunday.
At Gatwick at least 15 flights were cancelled this morning and at Heathrow more than 64 were axed by British Airways, forcing passengers to camp out on the airport floors.
One couple said they had been waiting to fly home to Stuttgart in Germany since Wednesday. Three of their flights have been cancelled and they slept on foam mats last night in Terminal 5.
Daryl Harrigan, 35, an engineer originally from Southam, Northamptonshire, said: “We've been stranded for three days now. It's a total nightmare.
“On the first flight we were due to take to Germany, we actually boarded the plane but then after four hours sitting on the runway we were told it was cancelled. The problem is not snow, it's the fact that there is only one de-icer for the whole terminal, so there's obviously a huge backload of planes waiting to be de-iced. It's ludicrous.”
Hundreds of thousands of rail commuters today faced a third day of delays and cancellations. Train services home tonight will finish earlier than usual, with last trains running on some routes from 9pm or 10pm. Some services did not start today until 8am.
Southeastern commuters from Kent and London were again among the worst hit. The company only ran a “limited” number of trains into the capital before 9am. There was no First Capital Connect (Thameslink) services between Blackfriars and Herne Hill.
South West Trains said there was no service between Guildford and Ascot, between Virginia Water and Weybridge via Chertsey and between Waterloo and Dorking.
On the motorways, hard shoulders will not be salted in a bid to save dangerously low supplies for main carriageways, the Government announced today. Asked whether there was a danger of broken-down vehicles skidding if they ran on to the hard shoulder, a No 10 spokesman said: “It's a matter of priorities.”
Fulham FC today announced that its Premier League match with Portsmouth tomorrow has been postponed due to the icy conditions. Craven Cottage is one of the few grounds in the top flight without undersoil heating.
There are fears many other matches this weekend may be called off.