Britain to shiver in temperatures 'colder than the South Pole' as health chiefs say more than 1,500 people a week could die from killer freeze
- Department of Health issue 'Level 3' cold-weather alert as freeze poses significant health risks
- Warning of ice forming on untreated surfaces
By Chris Parsons
Last updated at 11:40 PM on 31st January 2012
A cold snap that has left dozens dead across Eastern Europe will reach Britain by the weekend.
Temperatures are set to plunge far below freezing point making the country even colder than the South Pole. Forecasters are expecting overnight temperatures of between -8c (18f) and -10c (14f) on Friday.
The McMurdo research facility in Antarctica is currently recording -6c (21f) at night. The bitter cold has forced some countries to deploy their armed forces and set up emergency accommodation.
Health chiefs have also started warning that as a result of the freezing conditions, more than 1,500 people a week could be killed by the weather.
To help deal with the extreme cold, the Army has been put on standby. Around four inches of snow and ice could cover part of the country after a high pressure system hanging over Scandinavia which is pushing raw winds towards the UK.
The Department of Health's Chief Medical Officer said that around 1,560 people, many elderly, would die due to cold weather each week between now and March in normal winter weather. That figure will rise 'substantially', however, due to extreme cold like that we are currently experiencing.
During last year's big freeze, the death rate in England and Wales shot up by 21 per cent from 9,220 a week to 11,193.
Finding the right direction to Wheddon and Exford might not be too difficult, but following the snow-covered path might be a challenge