Met Office upgrades snow warning to amber alert for North East
The Met Office had previously put out a yellow warning for snow, but this has now been upgraded to amber for most of the region for between 9pm tonight and 5am tomorrow.
Sunderland, South Tyneside, Durham, Newcastle and North Tyneside now fall under the amber warning area, though Hartlepool and the rest of Teesside are still covered by the yellow warning.
Police have issued a warning for drivers in the Durham area not to take their cars out unless absolutely necessary.
The Met Office warning reads: "A spell of persistent and heavy snow is expected on Wednesday night, clearing eastwards by dawn on Thursday morning.
"Travel delays are likely on roads with a risk that some vehicles and passengers could become stranded.
"Delays or cancellations are likely to rail and air travel. Some rural communities are likely to become cut off and power cuts are probable. Other services, such as mobile phone, may be affected."
The chief forecaster's assessment adds: "A deepening area of low pressure is expected to track east across the UK during Wednesday night and early Thursday.
"A spell of persistent and heavy snow is expected to develop. 3-8 cm of fresh snow is likely to accumulate widely with up to 20 cm over high ground.