Travel warnings as fresh snow blast sweeps UK

Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures have caused hundreds of schools to shut, flight cancellations, train delays and disruption on the roads as Britain battles with a fresh blast of icy conditions.

Almost 4,000 gritters are taking on the freezing weather and drivers are being urged to ask themselves if their journeys are "really necessary" as the UK prepares for another bitterly cold day.

With several more centimetres of snow falling in some parts of the country, police and fire services are having to rescue stranded vehicles and deal with crashes.

More than 400 schools across Scotland are shut , and hundreds more across the rest of the UK, including 386 in Norfolk, 328 in Essex and 243 in Suffolk.

Airports are also affected with passengers being advised to check with their airline ahead of travelling.

Some flights have been cancelled from Heathrow and Gatwick, while London City and Newcastle Airport warned of some disruption, with Glasgow Airport temporarily suspending operations while the runway is cleared of snow.

Rail travellers have also been warned of cancellations and delays to services operated by TfL Rail, London Overground, c2c, Southeastern, Greater Anglia, Virgin Trains, Southern, South Western Railway and ScotRail.

:: LIVE: School closed amid heavy snow warnings

According to the RAC Foundation, which compiled the figures on gritters, drivers should not expect every road to be clear of snow and ice despite the size of the fleet fighting to keep the roads clear.

Most of the vehicles are deployed by councils but there are some which are used elsewhere - at airports for example.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: "Motorists need to be on their guard and if the snowfall is as deep as some forecasters predict, be ready to ask themselves the question: 'Is my journey really necessary?"'

Weather warnings for snow are still in place with northern England and Scotland set to be hit the hardest.

The Met Office, which has issued an amber warning - meaning there is apotential risk to life - said heavy snow showers are expected to batter the North East, North West, Yorkshire, East Midlands, East of England, London and the South East.

It says there will be up to 15cm (6in) of snow as a result, 40cm (16in) in some places, which is likely to cause more delays to roads, rail and air travel.

One of the worst affected places is the North East, with some roads left impassable.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service tweeted that officers have been dealing with accidents in the "terrible weather", including one involving a classic Mini which had crashed perilously close to a cliff.

According to Scottish MSP and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, amber alerts could be changed to red for extreme weather in certain areas before urging motorists not to drive.

Highways England, which has received numerous reports of stranded lorries, is calling on drivers to reduce speed and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel.

The weather has meant several roads across the country have been forced to close due to treacherous driving conditions. Four people died in car crashes amid the heavy snow on Tuesday.

Temperatures are expected to continue to drop as the week progresses, with Benson in Oxfordshire recording a low of -10C (14F) overnight, a plunge to -7C (19F) in Southampton and -5C (23F) noted in Burghfield, near Reading, in Berkshire.

Forecaster Frank Saunders is warning people in some parts of the country will experience the "coldest spell of weather since at least 2013, and possibly since 1991".