Wintry weather expected to continue

This Is Local London: A car makes its way through a wall of snow piled up along a road in the Briercliffe area of Burnley A car makes its way through a wall of snow piled up along a road in the Briercliffe area of Burnley

There is no end in sight to the dangerously wintry weather gripping much of the UK, forecasters have said.

The Met Office has extended its level 3 cold weather alert until Friday as hundreds of homes remained without power, many high-level transport routes stayed impassible and farmers battled with deep snow to keep livestock alive.

Laura Caldwell, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division for the Press Association, said there was no end in sight for the cold weather, although there will be a respite from the heavy snowfalls. She said: "There have been a few snowfalls in the north-east of England but it's pretty much dry across the UK at the moment. But it's cold."

The continuing Arctic conditions are in stark contrast to this week last year when headlines were proclaiming Britain was hotter than Madrid or California, and sun-seekers headed to the beach to enjoy an early spring heatwave. On March 24 last year, Porthmadog in North Wales saw the warmest temperature, reaching 21.7C (71F) - making it hotter than Madrid, Rome, Athens, Barcelona and Monte Real in Portugal.

Engineers were continuing their battle to restore power to hundreds of homes across parts of Northern Ireland, Cumbria and Scotland.

Helicopters were helping in the operation in Northern Ireland, where snow drifts and abandoned vehicles hampered efforts to restore power to 800 homes and businesses. More than 140,000 customers who lost power when the wintry blast struck the eastern counties of the region last Thursday and Friday have since had supply restored.

On Arran, residents have spoken of some of the worst conditions they have ever seen as hundreds of homes remained without power in south-west Scotland. The area was hit badly by damaged power lines four days ago when 18,000 homes and businesses were affected.

In northern England, many cross-Pennine routes remained blocked by drifting snow, including the Snake Pass and Woodhead Pass, between Manchester and South Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, a man found dead in deep snow after he started walking home in severe weather was named by police. The body of Gary Windle, 25, was found by a farmer in Brierfield, near Burnley, Lancashire, at about 1.30pm on Saturday. Lancashire Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious and there were indications it was a "very tragic incident" after he started walking home from a night-out with friends on Friday.

Severe weather is also thought to have led to the death of a woman in Cornwall on Friday. The woman, named locally as Susan Norman, died when her house in Looe, Cornwall, collapsed during a landslip following torrential rain.

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