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Britain also faces running out of gas as the intense demand caused by plunging temperatures outstrips supply across the country on what has been the coldest day in March since records began in 1959.
National Grid, the operator of the gas pipeline network, has issued a 'gas deficit warning' as the nation ramps up the thermostats while Storm Emma batters the coast, combining with the Beast from the East to bring sub-zero weather, icy blasts and 'blizzard-like' conditions.
Steven Keats, from the Met Office, told Mail Online: ‘This is quite exceptional weather on numerous levels due to the longevity of the cold period.
More than 500 flights have been cancelled in England and Scotland so far, including 157 at London Heathrow, 129 at Edinburgh, 77 at London Gatwick, 67 at London City and 48 at Bristol. The Met Office has put England under an unprecedented red warning for snow, amid concerns that up to 1ft 8in could fall in the South West.
At Glasgow Airport, British Red Cross workers provided blankets for stranded people.
It will be quite a well-remembered week for years to come.’He said it had been caused in part by a sudden bound of warm weather in February which reversed the jet stream for this time of year, causing a build-up of high pressure in Scandinavia but bringing unseasonably cold weather from Russia.
He said Britons would see the worst of the weather today and tomorrow but added: ‘We’re not out of the woods just yet.’Temperatures are expected to remain cold well into next week but ice cold winds predicted over the weekend.
About 100 vehicles were stuck in snow on the A303 at Ilminster, Somerset, where police and rescue teams were deployed to save those stranded.