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Get reafy for the FREEZE; Temperatures could drop to minus eight.

Byline: ADAM ASPINALL

THE Midlands faces recordbreaking Arctic weather this week with temperatures set to drop as low as -8C after the coldest December in more than a decade.

The highest profile victim of the big freeze yesterday was Walsall Football Club who were forced to postpone their League fixture against visiting Charlton Athletic.

A number of other games were also called off, including three FA cup ties.

Saddler's manager Chris Hutchings said: "It's extremely frustrating because so much hard work has gone into trying to get this game on, but we have to abide by the referee's decision as player safety has to be the paramount concern."

Matt Dobson, of forecasting firm MeteoGroup, said last month was the chilliest for 13 years.

"It's been the coldest December on average since 1996,'' he said. ''The second half of the month was very cold indeed but the first half was relatively mild. If it had been colder in the first few weeks we would have seen some more records broken."

Much of Britain entered the New Year buried beneath several inches of snow as temperatures plummeted towards -10C (14F) and forecasters admitted there was 'no end in sight' to the big freeze.

As millions of Midlanders prepare to return to work tomorrow, the combination of ice and snow raised fears that the weather could once again cripple the transport network.

Died So far seven people have died across the country as a result of the frosty conditions, particularly in the Scottish Highlands where three people perished after being caught in a series of avalanches.

Hazardous road conditions have also claimed a number of lives across the country.

Mr Dobson said the weather will remain very cold across the UK for the days ahead, especially in Scotland and northern England.

He said: "There will be widespread and very sharp frost in some places. We could see temperatures as low as -15C in Scotland and -10C in parts of England. Winds coming in from the North East will bring snow showers to eastern England and northern and eastern Scotland. But this doesn't rule out snow flurries in western areas as well."

Met Office forecaster Dave Elliott said: "The cold spell's here for the foreseeable future. It will stay with us right through the coming week - we can't see an end to it."

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 3, 2010
Words:397
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