THE big freeze gripping the UK could last until almost the end of April, weather forecasters predicted.
Temperatures are unlikely to recover to normal averages for the time of year until the latter part of next month, the Met Office suggested through its 30-day forecast.
Sub-zero temperatures look set to bring misery to thousands of people for the rest of the week and throughout Easter weekend as the dangerous wintry weather shows no immediate signs of abating.
Thousands of people in western Scotland face a sixth day without power after being cut off last week, and many transport routes across the UK remain impassable because of deep snow drifts.
More than 3,000 people in Argyll in Scotland and the Isle of Arran were without power after ice and snow damaged pylons, damaging the electricity network.
Farmers have been left counting the cost of the blizzard conditions, with many having to rescue stranded livestock at the height of the lambing season.
An RAF Chinook helicopter was called in to help as part of an emergency operation in Northern Ireland as farms and families were cut off by huge snow drifts.
The severe weather has also been blamed for the deaths of a number of birds, including puffins, razorbills and guillemots, which have washed up on Britain’s beaches.
The RSPB Scotland said it had received reports in Aberdeenshire, Angus and Northumberland. The Met Office has issued a cold weather alert for much of England, with a 100% probability of severe cold weather and icy conditions until Friday.
Its outlook for Sunday to April 9 predicts cold, dry weather, with a few light snow flurries and widespread frost and icy patches overnight. And the Met Office predicts temperatures are unlikely to recover to nearer normal values until the latter part of April.