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    UK Winter Storm Betides Snow, Heavy Rain

    March 21, 2013, 6:15:36 AM EDT

    An unusually cold start to spring in the U.K. portends substantial falls of snow late this week.


    Snow over an area spanning Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool could disrupt ground and air transportation Friday into Saturday as a major Atlantic storm meets cold winds blowing in from Scandinavia.

    Soaking rain, having begun Thursday in the Cornwall Peninsula, will threaten flooding in southwestern U.K. into Friday.

    However, it is farther north and east that wet snow could become heavy as rain meets the cold easterly wind flow. The English Midlands, Wales, northern England and southern Scotland, also Northern Ireland, will have at least some snow, with falls of up to 10 cm (4 inches) being likely, AccuWeather.com forecasters believe.

    Over the hills, the potential is for heavy falls of snow, potentially above 20 cm (8 inches) through Saturday. Here, open areas exposed to strong winds will be subject to whiteouts, making road travel difficult to impossible.

    Forecasters of the U.K. Met Office, in anticipation of significant falls of snow, hoisted "yellow" and "orange" alerts, valid Friday and Saturday, for much of the U.K. and Northern Ireland.

    Persistent cold that has gripped the U.K. since the second week of March has set up parts of the U.K. for what could be the coldest March in more than 50 years, the U.K. Daily Mail website said on Wednesday.

    Central England average temperature was 2.8 degrees C (5 degrees F) below normal, the Daily Mail said. If the cold were to hold through the end of the month -- and there is good reason to believe that this will happen -- it would be the coldest March since 1962 for this region.

    The contrast between the present month and March 2012 could not be more striking. Last year, spring begin with near-record warmth during the last ten days of March. Temperatures above 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) were reached as far north as northern Scotland.

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