First snow falls in North East as Met Office forecasts bitter winter weather

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Snow has arrived in the North East as the Met Office issues weather warnings for bitter conditions.

Flakes of snow have fallen in parts of Sunderland and Tyneside after forecasters warned of the risk of ice for parts of Britain as the cold snap continues across the country.

Snow was forecast to potentially hit the North East on Thursday, but has arrived early with sleet turning to flakes of snow in parts of the region.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for ice in parts of Wales, the North West and West Midlands as councils revealed they were preparing for freezing temperatures.

Drivers and commuters in remote areas have been urged to be cautious as overnight temperatures dipped to 1C in Northern Ireland, 1.2C in Myerscough in Lancashire and as low as minus 2.9C in Cairnwell, Scotland.

Motorists have been warned road temperatures could be 1C-2C lower than the air figures.

Meteorologist Martin Bowles, from the Met Office, said: "We've got a very showery situation, with some showers coming through overnight and it's quite cold so where you get showers and then the surface gets wet and freezes over, you can get problems with ice on pavements and roads."

Thursday is tipped to be the coldest day of the week for large parts of the country, with the mercury expected to fall as low as minus 10C (50F) in some parts.

Speaking of the possibility of snow, Mr Bowles said: "All this week there's going to be showers down the eastern side of the country, even today and tomorrow we're likely to get some snow on higher ground, places like the North Yorkshire moors.

"And because Thursday is that much colder, there's potential for snow a bit further south, places in East Anglia, Lincolnshire and perhaps some snow reaching city levels, such as Newcastle and Durham."

The colder conditions come as 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.

Some 92% of councils have either more salt in stock for this year, or the same level as they did last year, and the LGA said gritters would be out treating thousands of miles of roads whenever overnight temperatures drop below zero in the coming days.

Councillor Martin Tett, the LGA's transport spokesman, said: "Winter is fast approaching and temperatures are already starting to drop - but councils are prepared.

"Planning for winter remains a key priority for councils, despite ongoing funding pressures and competing demands on their limited resources. Across the country, local authorities have taken the steps necessary to protect their residents from floods, ice, and wintry conditions.

"Councils are constantly monitoring the weather, with up-to-the-minute reports to stay one step ahead. Depots are filled with 1.5 million tonnes of salt and gritters are ready to be deployed at a moment's notice to make sure our local roads are clear and open to our residents where possible.

"As always, council teams will also spend the winter months checking in on elderly and vulnerable residents to make sure they are OK but communities need to be on the look-out for each other. Whether it's a quick knock at the door to check on an elderly neighbour, or helping to carry out emergency repairs, everyone has a role to play to keep each other safe this winter."