Snow blanketed London and much of the UK on Monday, closing schools, grounding flights and causing widespread disruption in a country grappling with a wintry energy crisis.
Britain recorded the coldest day of the year in the early hours of Monday, with temperatures as low as minus 15.7 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit) in northern Scotland, according to the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service.
The cold snap has blanketed many parts of the country, including London, with snow as of Sunday evening. The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for some parts of the country.
Motorists were urged to avoid driving in several locations and some were forced to abandon their cars. Many schools have been closed. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, all serving the capital, warned of delays and flight cancellations.
Despite the disruption, the arrival of snow two weeks before Christmas brought a festive atmosphere to Britain’s parks and streets.
In pictures: Snow covers London
Snowfall is relatively rare in southern England compared to northern Britain and mainland Europe, and Brits often complain about the country’s poor infrastructure preparation when cold weather hits.
Inflation and an energy crisis have added to concerns this year as household bills have skyrocketed and people worry about whether they can afford to heat their homes.
National Grid, which manages much of Britain’s power supply infrastructure, has ordered two coal-fired power stations to start warming up in case cold weather threatens the country’s power grid, Britain’s PA Media news agency reported.
The company said it was an “contingency plan” aimed at “giving the public confidence in the power supply on Monday,” according to the PA.
Some utility customers are also being asked to reduce their consumption for two hours on Monday evening in a pre-scheduled test being conducted by National Grid.
Sunday’s snow dump came after several days of cold and freezing weather that had already caused tragedy in Solihull, central England.
West Midlands Police said three boys, aged 8, 10 and 11, died in hospital on Sunday afternoon after falling into a lake. A fourth boy, aged six, remains in critical condition.
“Searches of the lake continue as we try to determine exactly what happened and if anyone else fell into the water,” police said in a statement Monday.