Snow covers parts of England as winter weather sets in
A blizzard hit Stevenage as temperatures fell across the country Photo: Gary Dowson
Thousands of homes in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire were left without power after the cold weather damaged high voltage cables.
Supplier EDF Energy said the bad weather has prevented engineers from fixing the problem.
Luton Airport was forced to divert a number of its flights on Tuesday evening while airport workers cleared snow from the runway.
The seven flights were diverted to Birmingham and Stansted airports.
There was major disruption on the motorways after two lorries were involved in accidents during the morning rush hour: one on the M40 in Oxfordshire, closing the motorway, and another on the M65 in Lancashire.
The Highways Agency said it was not clear if the weather conditions had contributed to each of the accidents. A spokesman said: “Both of the roads in question had been gritted so it is not clear what part the weather conditions played.”
In Scotland, conditions were returning to normal after heavy snow and high winds brought disruption to roads earlier this week but temperatures remained very low.
Snow fell in London for the first time in October since 1934, while thermometers fell below zero across the country. Hertfordshire saw up to two inches of snow.
With road gritters out in some areas, night-time temperatures dropped to a bitter 24F (-4C) in eastern England last night with similar lows forecast for tonight. In northern Scotland, gale force winds left temperatures feeling much lower.
Even daytime conditions were unseasonably cold, with Manchester managing a high of only 41F (5C) compared to the 51F (10C) usually expected at this time of year.
As commuters in Coventry made their home from work through snow showers a handful appeared to be basking under bright clear skies on Brighton beach.
But appearances can be deceptive. While the Sussex coast was the warmest spot in Britain, temperatures there reached only 48F (9C) – and only briefly.
“I think they are very brave,” said Met Office forecaster Kevin Hogg.
While cloud is expected to move in from the west during today, lifting temperatures slightly, Britain is in for a second night of below-freezing conditions.
The wintry conditions mark the end of the mild conditions which have allowed one of the best shows of autumn colour from Britain’s trees in recent years.
Forecasters are blaming a change in wind direction for the wintry spell with Arctic gusts replacing the mild south-west Atlantic breezes enjoyed in recent weeks.
By Charlotte Bailey and Alastair Jamieson
Last Updated: 3:04PM GMT 29 Oct 2008
Source: The Telegraph