Snow warning to motorists as North East is placed on severe weather alert
Motorists are urged to be prepared for treacherous journeys this weekend with frequent snow showers forecast.
The warning extends to the North West and the Midlands, where Sunderland play Wolves on Saturday at 3pm, although the blizzards are not expected to peak until sometime between 3am-6pm on Sunday.
More snow is expected in Wolverhampton both Friday night and Saturday morning, with temperatures expected to be freezing, before conditions briefly become sunny in the afternoon.
The wintry snap has led to fears the Championship game will be postponed with volunteers expected to arrive at the home side's Molyneux ground early on match day to clear any fresh snowfall.
For Hartlepool United fans making the marathon 650-mile round trip to Doverfor Saturday's 3pm kick-off, the Met Office is anticipating "a mostly fine and sunny day" after a cold start although temperatures are not expected to exceed 5 degrees Celsius.
As for Newcastle United's 5.30pm home game with Leicester on Saturday, conditions are expected to be dry but cold with temperatures unlikely to top 2 degrees Celsius.
Conditions in the North East are then expected to deteriorate in the early hours of Sunday morning before gradually improving from Monday onwards.
Phil Stockford, emergency planning manager at Highways England, said: "Gritters are out treating our routes around the clock, but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow is forecast.
“Keep your distance and reduce your speed, because even in conditions that seem normal, and the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh grit has not been worked into the carriageway.
“Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel.”
Nicola Maxey, from the Met Office, added: “With snow in the forecast it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the latest Met Office forecast and warnings for your area to ensure you’re up to date with the latest situation.
“You can do this by checking the Met Office website for the daily forecast or our warnings page, or you could download our weather app which will ensure you can keep up to date while you are out and about.
With the latest weather information for your area you will be able better prepare for what is in store and plan your activities accordingly.”