Brits have been told not to travel today – as 12ft snowdrifts block major roads and medics warn a -10C polar plunge could cause heart attacks.
Meanwhile, health chiefs have issued a cold weather alert for the whole of the country, saying the chill could have “a serious impact on health”.
And emergency services have told people to stay away from the sea after a man who is believed to have been kite-surfing died on a Suffolk beach yesterday.
Desperate passers-by battled to save the man, who was in his 50s. However, he died at the scene.
A huge crack has appeared on the clifftop at Seaford Head in East Sussex during the freezing weather.
Coastguard officials have warned members of the public to keep away amid fears of a collapse.
Temperatures won’t rise above freezing in many areas of the UK, the Met Office said.
Amber warnings of snow blasts have been issued for Sheffield, Lincoln and Nottingham, as well as swathes of the east coast between Norwich and Dover in Kent.
Yellow warnings are also in place between the Northern Isles of Scotland and the southern coast of England.
Around 12 inches of snow are forecast in the hardest-hit areas.
However, council teams clearing roads near village Hitcham in Suffolk shared images of 12ft drifts taller than their snowplough.
Meanwhile, 40 cars and lorries are blocking the A6003 in Uppingham, Rutland.
A van fire has caused delays on the A229 near Maidstone in Kent this morning.
It’s reported the driver turned up the heating to clear the windscreen of snow before the blaze began.
On the rails, Greater Anglia has cancelled 59 of its services including all services to and from Walton-on-the-Naze, where the line is blocked by a two-and-a-half foot snowdrift.
Southeastern rail has also cancelled a number of services and “strong advises” passengers not to attempt travel.
It said the Maidstone East line will be closed today and added: “Given the severity of the forecast some routes are closed with no replacement transport available.”
Southern Railway has also cancelled trains.
Forecasters have warned of “significant disruptive snowfall” and gale-force winds in the south-east of England. Up to 12 inches of snow possible in the Downs of Kent and the North Downs, they say.
And key workers are facing challenges as hundreds of schools shut to youngsters.
In Norfolk alone, around 350 schools are closed today because of the snow and ice.
Norfolk County Council said 349 of the county’s 422 schools were closed on Monday morning.
Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and Medway have all been hit by heavy snow today.
Cops across the country say Brits should stay indoors and not try to drive.
Forces in parts of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex urged people to stay at home after roads because “impassable”.
Highways teams say conditions are “worsening” – and the weather is as bad as the 2018 Beast from the East.
At least 10 Covid vaccination centres across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk have now been forced to close as a result of heavy snow and ice.
Clacton Hospital, Colchester United’s stadium, Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich and Chevington Close in Bury St Edmunds are all shut.
Temperatures have been forced lower by 50mph winds blasting in from Ukraine and the Black Sea.
Dr Owen Landeg of Public Health England said the cold will threaten lives.
“For older people and those with heart and lung problems, it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections,” he said.
Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “The UK is in for a notably cold and snowy period over the next week, with very cold air in place over the whole of the UK.”
Snow began to accumulate yesterday – but plenty more is expected, he warned.
“We could see 5-10cm of snow quite widely, with a chance that a few places could see 20cm or more,” he said.
“With such severe weather around it’s important to keep up to date with the latest forecast.”
Dr Landeg urged people to check on vulnerable neighbours.
“It’s really crucial at this time to remember to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses,” he said.
“Make a call, or socially-distanced doorstep visit if they live close by, to remind them of some simple but important health tips such as heating their home to at least 18C and to keep up-to-date with the forecast.
“It’s also helpful to check they have enough food and drinks and any medicines they need.
“This will help them to stay warm and stay well.”
Yesterday, meteorologist Sarah Kent told Brits to brace for an onslaught of cold weather.
She said: “There will be significant disruptive snowfall across the south-east.
“Within this area, there is a small chance particularly over the Downs of Kent and the North Downs that you could see 25-30cm of snow.
“It is a small chance but the threat is there, up to a foot of snow potentially combined with extremely strong easterly winds. Even inland in that area, gusting could be 45mph and higher than that on the coasts.
“This could lead to significant drifting of any lying snow and obviously blizzards for the snow coming past you for anyone who is attempting to travel.