Big freeze is back - and this time it's even colder

AS GALE-force winds battered the coast and forecasters predicted a freezing weekend, Scots have been warned this winter could be worse than last year's record-breaking cold snap.

• Firemen drive through the flood waters that are still affecting the village of Lostwithiel yesterday. Picture: Getty

Scotland escaped the worst of the havoc yesterday as 80mph winds and heavy rain caused severe flooding in parts of England, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to promise extra aid for affected areas.

Temperatures are expected to fall as low as -10C north of the Border this weekend and heavy snowfalls are predicted to leave large parts of the country bathed in white.

Now experts have forecast the early onset of freezing weather in mid-November could be the start of a long, cold winter at least as severe as last year's.

Last winter, Scotland's coldest since 1963, the severe weather largely kicked in around the middle of December.

But independent forecasters The Weather Outlook have warned that, due to the early start, average temperatures could be even lower this time around.

Forecaster Brian Gaze said: "A cold spell lasting a week or longer starts on Sunday, pushing south with an increasing risk of frost and snow. Overnight frosts are likely to be widespread, with lows of -10C possible where snow lies."

He added: "The pattern is similar to the one which brought wintry weather last December.

"This is a sharp spell of wintry weather for November. I've analysed Numerical Weather Prediction models - the basis for medium-range forecasts - since 1994 and have never seen anything like this in any previous November."

In Grampian the A93 Glenshee to Braemar was closed yesterday. Snow also caused hazardous conditions on the M74 in Dumfries and Galloway and there were high-wind warnings on bridges across the country.

In the Highlands, a fallen tree partially blocked the A82 at Invermoriston.

In Glasgow's east end, Cumbernauld Road was closed northbound from Alexandra Park Street to Alexandra Parade due to an unsafe building damaged by high winds.

Island communities in Scotland were worst affected by the gales, due to ferry cancellations. Most sailings to Shetland, Orkney and the Inner and Outer Hebrides were scrapped.

Sailings on the Cairnryan to Larne route were cancelled and all sailings between Stranraer and Belfast were abandoned.Scotland has escaped the worst of the havoc, however, with the south west of England suffering widespread flooding and damage to property.

Mr Cameron yesterday said the government stood "ready to help in any way that we can" after heavy rain and gale-force winds caused severe flooding in Cornwall. The Prime Minister told MPs during Commons question time: "We have said that we stand ready to help in any way that we can.

"We have to remember that when the flood waters actually start to recede, that's when many of the biggest problems arise over insurance and getting people back into their homes."

Severe gales which caused chaos in Cornwall yesterday could also now move north.

In a weather warning issued by the Met Office, they predicted that heavy and persistent rain will affect Dumfries and Galloway today.

Rainfall totals of 25 to 30mm can be expected with larger amounts on higher ground.

Gale-force winds paralysed ferry services to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland yesterday.

By Sunday, north-east winds are set to bring freezing conditions straight from the Arctic to Scotland, resulting in temperatures as low as -10C. Frost and snow predicted to hit the whole country.

The wind and rain which caused chaos in Cornwall is predicted to hit Dumfries and Galloway today, prompting a severe weather warning from the Met Office.

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