Pjanoo Eric Prydz
Temperatures plunged to -11C today (Friday 3rd February) as Britain braced itself for more bitterly cold conditions ahead of a spell of snow this weekend.
With temperatures this week as low as -6.1C in South Farnborough, Hampshire, and -5.7C in Hurn, Dorset, the Cold Weather Alert is expected to remain in force until the weekend.
It comes after the Met Office raised fears for the elderly and ill by issuing its first country-wide Level 3 Cold Weather Alert of the winter.
The alert, which is the second most serious, is tied in to the Government's Cold Weather Plan and are relayed to organisations such as Age UK, which help the elderly through winter.
Meanwhile, severe weather warnings are in place until Sunday, with icy conditions expected in parts of the England today and snow forecast in Wales, south-west Scotland and much of England tomorrow.
Tom Tobler, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association said: "Most places will see temperatures of no more than 1C or 2C today and a few won't get above zero.
"By tomorrow morning there's some patchy rain and snow arriving in north-west UK.
"It will move south eastwards during the day, bringing quite a lot of snow with it.
"There could be several centimetres in much of the country, except for some western areas where it will turn more readily to rain.
"The snow should clear through Sunday, although we might see a bit more in the South East in the morning."
The Met Office said: "This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services."
The only higher alert is Level 4, which sees normally healthy people at risk from the cold.
Across Europe, popular travel destinations are even worse off, with bleak temperatures such as -14C in Berlin, -17C in Prague, -8C in Paris, -13C in Stockholm and -20C in Warsaw.
Britain's deep freeze has seen daytime temperatures plummet four or five degrees lower than average for February - traditionally the coldest month of the year.