Met office predicts as much as 30cm of snow today

The Met Office is warning of an "extreme weather event" across large swathes of England, Scotland and Wales with as much as 30cm of snow in place. The south-east will be worst affected.

The warning this morning said: “There is a High Risk of a Severe Weather event affecting much of England and Wales on Monday. Periods of snow will continue to extend northwestwards through the day, with heavy falls likely in places. Although marked variations will occur from place to place, 5-10cm is likely in many areas with as much as 20-30cm possible, especially over higher ground. Drifting will occur in fresh to strong easterly winds. This could cause disruption to travel networks, especially across higher level routes.

With freezing temperatures expected to endure for at least a week, there were predictions that resulting disruption and an expected spike in absenteeism could cost the British economy as much as £600 million a day, as the public transport system grinds to a halt and schools and offices are forced to close.

The heaviest snowfalls since 1991 caused airports to close yesterday and passengers to be stranded as neither taxis not trains could get away, with M25 gridlocked and other motorways closed. Gatwick cancelled 23 flights.

Jack-knifed lorries blocked the M1 and the M25. Trains and buses were this morning cancelled.