Britain will be colder than parts of Greenland this Easter with temp­eratures plunging to an Arctic -10C (14F).
© Daily ExpressSnowploughs battle to clear drifts as the big freeze shows no signs of relenting
Though the clocks go forward tomorrow night, marking the start of British Summer Time, there is no end in sight to the bitter weather.

This has already been the coldest March since 1962, the Met Office confirmed yesterday, and the fourth coldest since records began.

Instead of spending the four-day Bank Holiday pottering in the garden or driving to the coast, people are being advised to wrap up warm and stay indoors.

Millions have given up hope of spring arriving and are jetting off for some much-needed sun. And some are still digging themselves out after being marooned by 20ft snowdrifts.

Parts of the UK are likely to see a white Easter with wintry showers forecast for eastern areas, though these are likely to be isolated and the snow should be fairly light.

By Sunday and Monday much of Britain may look sunny and spring-like but will still feel unseasonably chilly. And the snowdrifts could remain well into April.

Leon Brown, forecaster for The Weather Channel, said: "With these sorts of temperatures those drifts aren't going to melt much at all.

"Because of the easterly winds there have been drifts that have left areas up to 20ft deep in snow. This is why farmers have really struggled.

"They have lost many of their sheep and there's no good news for them, other than that the winds will die down. The actual drifts will melt only very slowly, even if the temperatures do lift above normal.
© Daily ExpressA farmer hauls bags of coal on a sledge in Cumbria
"Sea temperatures are now well depressed so temp­eratures are going to struggle to get anywhere near normal.

"There's a risk of severe frost and some places could see temperatures as low as -10C.

"Anyone hoping to do a bit of gardening this Easter is out of luck. There's no possibility of putting out early plants. I should think people will need to wait until late April before they can plant anything outside."

The record lowest Easter temperature of -9.8C was set at Lagganlia, Inverness, on Easter Monday 1986.

Temperatures hit -8.8C early yesterday in Aonach Mor, Inverness, and -6.7C at Great Dun Fell, Cumbria.

That is much colder than parts of Greenland in the Arctic Circle which will see Easter lows of 1C.

Government cold weather health warnings have been extended until Monday - the first time the system has been used in April.

Channel 4 forecaster Liam Dutton said: "BST starts on Saturday night but the weather hasn't noticed. Recent cold is remarkable and even weathermen are sick of it."

Statistics from the Met Office show that from March 1 to 26 the UK mean temperature was 2.5C, which is three degrees below the long-term average. This made it the joint fourth coldest March in the UK since records began in 1910.

Around 1,200 homes in the west of Scotland remained without power for a sixth day yesterday following a problem with mobile generators.

Meanwhile airports were braced for a busy few days as millions of holidaymakers try to escape the coldest start to spring for 50 years.

An estimated 1.2 million passengers will fly out from Heathrow this weekend, with 570,000 leaving from Gatwick.
© Daily ExpressParents Robert and Helen Collingwood have not seen their sons for a week
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the Abta travel association, said: "After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many people are desperate for some sunshine. We've seen a surge in last-minute bookings to warm destinations."

Neil Banks, Stansted airport terminal manager, said: "The Easter holidays are traditionally one of the busiest periods and this year is no different as hundreds of thousands jet off to the beach or ski slopes.

"To help cope with the increase in passengers we will have more staff on duty across the Easter holidays."

Ferry passengers escaped a weekend of travel chaos when a planned strike at French ports was called off yesterday.

The 24-hour stoppage by port control officers would have hit Calais, Dieppe and Cherbourg, severely curtailing cross-Channel services.

P&O had warned passengers to expect long delays today and there were fears of queues on routes to Dover. A planned strike by London Underground drivers on Tuesday was also called off after talks at the conciliation service Acas.

The weather continues to cause problems for farmers, many of whom have lost animals under the heavy snow or are running low on fuel.

The Collingwood family have been separated for more than a week after drifts cut off their remote farm in Stanhope Common, County Durham.

Council workmen have tried every day to clear the road but fresh snow and drifts made it impossible.

Robert Collingwood, 44, decided to take his two sons Jake, 11, and Ben, 9, to his aunt's house four miles away in Stanhope before the snow fell so they could get to school. But the deep drifts mean the boys have been unable to get back home.

Robert, who lives with wife Helen, 38, said: "We've got a big chest freezer with plenty of meat, canned food and longlife milk to keep us going."