Forecasters predict that the freezing weather will last until next weekend, with snow and ice expected to cause further travel disruption.
According to the Daily Mail
, this winter has been one of the coldest in almost two decades. Met office figures show that 2012-13 is now bordering on being colder than 14 winters since 1995-96. The average temperature for December, January and February is expected to be around 3.2C, compared to last winter's average of 4.58C.
Yesterday, most of the country endured temperatures of just above freezing, making it as cold as Hammerfest in Arctic Norway, where it was 1C.
There has already been heavy snowfall in the north of England, and it's possible that there could be up to three inches more to come.
The Daily Express
reports that 50mph winds mean that it will feel as cold as -10C in some areas. Although snowfall is expected to be confined to the north, people in the east and south east are expected to suffer the coldest temperatures, thanks to a bitter north, north-easterly wind.
The freezing conditions are expected to claim the lives of more than 26,000 older people this year. As a result, the Daily Star
claims that we are in the grip of a 'killer winter'.
National Federation of Occupational Pensioners chief executive Malcolm Booth told the Daily Star: "There is a define risk of the highest national winter mortality figures since 2008-9." In that year, 36,450 died as flu rates soared.
Leon Brown, forecaster for The Weather Channel, said: "This winter has been harsh, with long, cold periods, more snow than last winter and more cold weather to finish."
Look forward to spring with these great ideas for Easter escapes...
Cold weather to continue through weekend
Snowy weekend as freezing temperatures to last until March
- Go wild in Washington
The famous White House Egg Roll may only be open to American travellers but there are plenty of alternative Easter egg hunts in Washington DC. Madame Tussauds has more than 1,000 eggs hidden in the Presidents Gallery and Tudor Palace's Eggstravaganza promises a thrilling Egg Roll Contest and spring basket building. From 20 March to 14 April, DC also celebrates bright colours and lighter evenings at the <a href="http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/" target="_blank">National Cherry Blossom Festival</a>, with musical and stage performances and the blossoming of more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees given to the city by Japan in 1912.</p>
- See the processions in Valencia, Spain
There's plenty to see and do in Spain during the Easter holidays - and it's a great time to soak up the sunshine. In Valencia, you'll find all sorts of festivities, such the Procession of the Palm Leaves, the Procession of the Holy Burial and the Procession of the Resurrection during Holy Week. Extremadura in south west Spain sees costume parades, ornate floats and dancing in the streets on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The whole island of Tenerife celebrates Holy Week with various processions and you can enjoy whale watching and lazy days on the beach.</p>
- Go Easter egg hunting in the UK
Fancy a traditional Easter of chocolate egg hunts? Cadbury and the National Trust have teamed up for Easter weekend to offer families fun Easter Egg Trails at 250 special National Trust properties throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There'll be activities including Design Your Own Egg Head, giant snakes and ladders, sack races and face painting, plus each trail will be unique to its location. New for this year, is the traditional egg and spoon race that you can take part in at select locations. Visit <a href="http://www.eastereggtrail.com/" target="_blank">eastereggtrail.com</a></p>
- Do some dancing in Bhutan
For somewhere completely off the tourist radar and in a beautiful corner of Asia little-known to British travellers, Bhutan offers an enchanting, peaceful and happy holiday during Easter. The colourful Talo Tshechu, from 31 March to 2 April, is a three-day festival in Punakha known for its masks and Atsara dances. The lively Zhemgang Tshechu in Zhemgang also takes place at this time, giving you another reason to visit Bhutan in spring. With warm, clear weather and a variety of festivals, it's the perfect time to experience the local culture and celebrations.</p>
- Admire the cherry blossom in Kyoto, Japan
Who needs chocolate eggs when Easter in Kyoto marks peak cherry blossom viewing time? Visit this beautiful part of Japan to see the weeping cherry blossoms in bloom at Jingu Shrine, one of Kyoto's most famous and romantic spots for the annual ritual. Other wonderful events include Kyoto Antique Fair at Pulse Plaza from 29 to 31 March with more than 350 antique dealers, the Saga Dai Nenbutsu Kyogen silent play at Seiryo-ji Temple on 31 March and 6 to 7 April, and the special spring opening of the Kyoto Imperial Palace from 3 to 7 April.</p>
- Tickle your tastebuds in Italy
Easter or Pasqua in Italy is one of the biggest holidays of the year. While you won't find the Easter bunny here, there are colourful displays of chocolate eggs in shop windows and plenty of events. Foodies can taste Easter Colomba (dove) cake and try seasonal dishes, like young lamb and artichokes. Rome is the centre of Italy's Easter celebrations with the Pope's Via Crucis procession and a whole host of other activities involving the Pope and the Vatican. In Sicily, the Procession of the Mysteries lasts almost 24 hours with a magnificent parade through Trapani. Sorrento's torch-lit procession is led by men dressed in hooded robes and in Florence the Explosion of the Cart sees an elaborate wagon pulled through the streets by white oxen before a spectacular fireworks display in Piazza del Duomo.</p>
- Flit away to France
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">It's around this time of year that France begins to wake up and if you head south you'll get lovely warm sunshine without the crowds. Head for Hyeres for for enjoy biking and walking, or Cannes for its Shopping Festival and swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea. And if it's a traditional Easter with a twist you're after, Gouffre de Padirac in the Midi-Pyrenees region sees hundreds of chocolate eggs hidden in a path 103 metres underground, with lakes and an unusual atmosphere to explore.</span></p>
- See the boat racing in St Vincent and the Grenadines
The Caribbean can be a good choice for Easter: it is the end of the peak season and the weather is still lovely. Head for St Vincent and the Grenadines, where the largest island, Bequia, hosts the lively Bequia Easter Regatta from 28 March to 1 April, with four days of boat racing, live music, entertainment and authentic Vincentian cuisine. It's the biggest regatta in the Southern Caribbean and sees the harbour packed with yachts from around the world and a series of races.</p>
- Spend Holy Week in Portugal
Thanks to Portugal's strong religious heritage and delightful spring weather, Easter means plenty of cultural festivals across the country. During Holy Week, Braga hosts lively processions, such as the burrinha (donkey) parade. In the Algarve, the streets of Sao Bras de Alportel are filled with flowers and flaming torches on Easter Sunday and you can sample the desserts and sweets of the season. The region's Folar Fairs offer music and entertainment, plus the chance to try folar cakes - Easter cakes with hard boiled eggs (complete with shells) on top!</p>
- Get spooked in Stockholm, Sweden
We all know the Easter bunny - but ever heard of the Easter witch? For an unusual Easter holiday head to Stockholm and enjoy traditional Swedish celebrations. On Maundy Thursday, children dress up as colourful witches to deliver Easter letters and receive sweets. It is said that witches flew off to dance with the devil on the Blåkulla (Blue Mountain) at this time of year. At Skansen, Sweden's oldest open-air museum, kids can make their own witch brooms and pretend they're taking off for Blåkulla.</p>