TEMPERATURES are expected to plummet this weekend, with snow already falling in parts of the region.
The Northumberland border saw a light dusting of snow yesterday, with forecasters warning of yet more to come.
The Met Office has issued a weekend weather warning, with snow predicted to blanket most of England.
The Level 2 alert warns that there is a high risk of severe cold, icy and snowy conditions between this morning and Tuesday. The alert highlights all of England as being at risk.
Alexi Boothman, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “Temperatures will fall over the weekend and, in many places, even during the daytime, we won’t see more than a degree or two above zero.
“We can expect to see wintry showers arriving in parts of North East England, driven by cold easterly winds.”
Organisations across the region are making preparations to cope once the snow begins to fall.
Durham County Council has added 10 vehicles to its fleet of 40 gritters, plus five snow blowers.
At Cobalt Business Park, in North Tyneside, a snow plough has been purchased to ensure the 11,000 employees can safely get to work.
Lynn Cramman, community coordinator, said: “This year, we were not going to be caught off guard.”
With the prolonged mild spell we’ve enjoyed set to come to a frosty end, motoring organisation the AA is advising drivers not to be complacent, even on local journeys.
It said research shows that three-quarters of motorists are ill-prepared for winter weather.
Andy Smith, from the AA, said: “The next few days could be a bit of a sharp wake-up call for drivers who aren’t adequately prepared.
“It’s just not worth taking a gamble and it’s no effort to put a few extra warm layers and other winter essentials in the car.”