Early taste of spring in Yorkshire '“ as killer blizzards batter US

Yorkshire will experience unseasonably mild weather this weekend '“ as the United States is battered by a huge winter storm that has already claimed eight lives.

A person walks through the snow in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Following a brief cold snap last week, temperatures across the county will climb to 13C tomorrow.

With the mercury reaching 15C elsewhere in the country – 10C higher than normal – the UK’s settled conditions are in stark contrast to the blizzards currently affecting millions of Americans.

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A state of emergency has been declared throughout a vast swathe of the eastern seaboard, as around 3ft of snow is expected to fall this weekend.

Many states are in near-shutdown after thousands of flights were cancelled, schools and government offices closed and sports and entertainment events called off.

The storm has so far caused more than 4,250 flights into, within or out of the United States to be cancelled according to the website FlightAware – with at least 45 of these originating from or departing to major UK airports.

A spokesperson for Heathrow confirmed that as of midday on Saturday a total of 47 inbound and outbound flights to the US had been cancelled.

“The vast majority of passengers were made aware by their airlines of cancellations - Heathrow is running normally as most people have already been told,” they said.

Warnings are in place from Arkansas in the south to New York in the far north east, and millions of people have been stocking up on food and emergency supplies.

US officials are expecting blizzard conditions to combine with brutally high winds, inland flooding, white-out conditions and the possibility of thunder snow – when lightning strikes through snowstorms – paralysing the eastern third of the US and potentially causing up to a billion dollars (£700 million) of damage.

Washington DC, which is further south than Madrid and Rome - where on Friday it was 11C (51.8F) and 13C (55.4F) respectively - was last night braced for more than 2ft (60cm) of snow and authorities have shut the underground system until Sunday.

Forecasters believe it could threaten the previous snowfall record in the US capital of 28in (71cm) during a two-day period in January 1922.

Up to 18in (45cm) is also expected in Philadelphia, along with 1ft (30cm) in New York. But Boston, further north, which was hit badly by snowstorms last year, is unlikely to see major snow, with a peak of 4in (10cm) predicted.

The extreme weather is down to a collision of very warm and humid air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico and meeting very cold air across the central northern states and south-eastern Canada, the Met Office said, but it will not affect the UK.

Most parts of this country will be dry on Saturday, with some rain in the South and West later.

Billy Payne, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: “Temperatures will be above average, with highs generally of 9C (48F) to 12C (53.6F), with most places falling in the range above the January average.

“Typically that is around 6.5C (43.7F) in London and most places 6C (42.8F) to 7C (44.6F) at this time of year, and around 8C (46.4F) in the South West.

“Sunday will be milder still, with extensive cloud and bits and pieces of light rain and drizzle, mostly in the North and West and over hills. It could be up to 15C (59F) in places, most likely in the South and West, reaching 11C (51.8F) to 14C (57.2F) locally.”

The mild outlook will continue into next week, though heavy and prolonged rain is likely in the middle of the week, particularly in the North and West, with winds of up to 60mph. Temperatures will fall away again with some overnight frosts possible.

Mr Payne added: “In the next week or two flooding could become a concern again, especially for areas that have been previously affected this winter.”