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Big banks able to weather Bank of Canada’s worst-case scenario, but risks higher for households and businesses


Canada’s six biggest banks survived a severe stress test by the Bank of Canada, which is a relief since they might be the only thing standing between a relatively short recession and something much worse.

The analysis was part of the central bank’s latest Financial System Review (FSR), which is devoted to the COVID-19 crisis.

Generally speaking, the central bank appears confident that its historic response to the shutdown of vast swaths of the global economy has averted disaster. Governor Stephen Poloz stuck to his contention that the recession will be brutal, but probably relatively short, in part because there appears to be little reason to worry about a financial meltdown.

The pandemic remains a massive economic and financial challenge, possibly the largest of our lifetimes, and it will leave higher levels of debt in its wake

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz

“The country’s banking system and financial market infrastructures are strong enough to deal with the situation,” Poloz said before taking questions on a conference call with reporters. “To be clear, the pandemic remains a massive economic and financial challenge, possibly the largest of our lifetimes, and it will leave higher levels of debt in its wake.”

Still, thanks to decent economic growth during the past few years and the hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency funds that Ottawa is pushing into the economy, the governor said he was “confident that a strong financial system will help Canada emerge from this episode in relatively good shape.”

Unlike many of its peers, Canada’s central bank doesn’t have any regulatory authority over financial institutions. But it does have moral authority, and it wields the country’s most impressive array of economic researchers. Thus, the FSR is an important instrument of policy, since central bankers use it to try to guide behaviour, just as they attempt to steer spending habits by raising and lowering interest rates.

Normally, the annual FSR is a warning mechanism. The Bank of Canada flags vulnerabilities it thinks could lead to pain in the event of a shock. Since we’re currently living through such a shock, this year’s review was more of a “state of play,” as Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Brian DePratto observed. “Vulnerabilities abound, but on balance the bank appears to be cautiously optimistic that the system can handle the current and emerging stresses,” he said in a note to his clients.

The Big Six and the hefty cash reserves they must maintain to satisfy federal regulations are a firebreak in this crisis

Policy-makers are confident that they have avoided a credit crunch, albeit only because they took the unprecedented step of creating tens of billions of dollars to buy government bonds and company debt. The policy seems to be working, since interest rates, which spiked in March as investors retreated when the coronavirus spread through Europe and North America, have returned to pre-crisis levels.

Poloz and the central bank’s other leaders are probably less sure about how many companies and households will survive the recession without declaring bankruptcy.

The central bank reckons about twenty per cent of mortgage borrowers entered the downturn with only enough cash and other liquid assets to cover two months (or less) of loan payments. Many companies are equally fragile, as some of the industries hardest hit by the crisis are also the ones in which companies were already operating with relatively little money in the bank.

“COVID‑19 has hit many households and businesses hard, especially those that are highly indebted or have low cash buffers,” the FSR said. “During this period, emergency measures that provide basic incomes to households and help businesses access credit are crucial.”

Government rescue efforts now exceed 10 per cent of gross domestic product, more than double the value of the fiscal stimulus deployed during the Great Recession a decade ago. Much of the assistance is in the form of emergency loans, and most of that funding is being administered by the biggest banks.

Canada’s banking oligopoly constrains competition and innovation in good times. But the Big Six and the hefty cash reserves they must maintain to satisfy federal regulations are a firebreak in this crisis. Things would be much worse if the banks were as fragile as airlines and oil companies. Fortunately, the banks should be able to withstand a deterioration of current conditions.

Policy-makers ran a simulation of what would happen to the six biggest banks — Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank — if the Bank of Canada’s worst-case economic outlook came to pass.

That scenario, which the central bank acknowledges is plausible, involves a 30 per cent plunge in GDP in the second quarter from the end of 2019 and a slow recovery that would leave economic output below pre-crisis levels for more than two years.

It’s ugly, but the banks survived the test: arrears peaked at a rate that was about double the peak during the financial crisis, and non-performing loans would exceed recent highs. But monetary and fiscal policy counter much of the pain, and the banks’ reserves do the rest. Capital requirements remain above the level required by regulation, which was made tougher after the Great Recession precisely so the most important lenders would be ready for the next economic calamity.

“The six largest banks entered the COVID‑19 period with strong capital and liquidity buffers, a diversified asset base, the capacity to generate income and the protection of a robust mortgage insurance system,” the FSR said. “With these strengths, as well as the aggressive government policy response to the pandemic, the largest banks are in a good position to manage the consequences.”

Financial Post

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Vancouver Weather: Blue skies and balmy


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VANCOUVER, B.C.: Friday, May 8.Today’s weather is expected to be sunny, with highs of 22 C and 27 C inland, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Watch again for the UV index, which is listed at 8, or very high. Overnight, it looks clear, with a low of 11 C. Then the temperature is expected to heat up on Saturday, with sunshine and highs of 22 C or 28 C inland. The agency says with the humidity it’s going to feel more like 30 C inland. Sunday looks like a scorcher too, with highs of 24 C and 29 C inland. Then, it looks like the weather begins to cool off after that. It’s a mix of sun and cloud for Monday, with highs of 21 C and 26 C inland, a slight chance of showers on Tuesday and 18 C, and then it looks like a good chance of rain on Wednesday.


Weather: Vancouver, B.C.

Today: Sunny. High 22 C except 27 C inland. Humidex 28 inland. UV index 8 or very high.

Tonight: Clear. Low 11 C.

Tomorrow: Sunny. High 22 C except 28 C inland. Humidex 30 inland. UV index 7 or high.

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada


Traffic: Lower Mainland

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‘They are completely intertwined’: Tentative signs of recovery in China help some Canadian companies weather COVID-19 storm


One night in late January, Canadian Jacob Cooke found himself in Jiangsu province in China, desperately trying to find seats on a plane leaving the country and promising his brother, Joseph, he’d make it to Vancouver.

For more than a decade, they had run a business called WPIC Marketing + Technologies with an ocean between them, helping brands from Canada and, eventually, all over the globe launch e-commerce operations in China.

But that night, panic was washing over China after news channels started reporting on the highly contagious outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan province. There was little information about who was most vulnerable, how the virus spreads or what symptoms to expect, but fears were aroused. Soon, trains were shutting down, hotels were closing their doors and slowly, but surely, ways out of the country were disappearing.

“There was definitely not enough information,” Jacob said. “You didn’t know what to believe, you just wanted to get far enough away from it.”

Jacob also worried about his family, including his wife and their two young sons, aged five and nine, who had travelled from their home in Beijing to visit her family in Jiangsu for Chinese New Year, since it looked like they might be stuck there. After spending hours on the phone, he secured seats on a plane leaving Shanghai for Vancouver, and then tracked down a driver to make the six-hour trek to the airport.

Seven weeks later, after Jacob and his family made it safely back to Vancouver, the situation has in many ways reversed: Canada, and most of the western world, are desperately trying to stop the spread of coronavirus, with new measures being announced almost on an hourly basis that shut down parts of the economy, while China is in recovery.

It’s still not clear how the deadly virus will be contained, or what its ultimate toll will be, so the horizon in Canada and elsewhere remains too dark to look for silver linings.

Yet if the worst does not come to pass, the Cooke brothers and others who hold deep business ties to China can see how the global connectivity of our economies may help both countries.

An economic recovery is now taking shape in China. Self-isolation is starting to end, people are returning to offices and work in factories has largely resumed its pre-coronavirus level of activity.

China opened up a portion of its Great Wall this past week.

China opened up a portion of its Great Wall this past week.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

FedEx Corp. on a March 17 conference call said 90 to 95 per cent of large manufacturers in China are now open, as are about two-thirds of small manufacturers. The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong and Shanghai SE Composite Index both ended the week on a positive swing after brutal declines since the start of the year.

But as supply chains and demand for goods ramps up in China, they’re slowing elsewhere. Yet there were signs of life even in the depths of China’s outbreak.

Joseph Cooke, president of WPIC, said it’s been a strange year in China. Online sales usually dip during the new year celebration, but they remained steady this year, perhaps because people in self-isolation indulged in “retail therapy,” he said.

As the weeks in lockdown progressed, online sales in China accelerated as brick-and-mortar retail stores stay closed. That also provided a lifeline for many Canadian companies, particularly those that need to move seasonal inventory, WPIC chief executive Jacob Cooke said.

“China coming back online is great for Canadian companies,” he said. “With retail closed here, for example, and a lot of stuff being seasonal, it’s got to move somewhere or it’s going to become useless.”

Some companies’ quarterly earnings reports are already bearing that trend out.

China coming back online is great for Canadian companies

Jacob Cooke

For example, Nike Inc. chief executive John Donahoe on Wednesday reported that his company’s e-commerce sales in China increased more than 30 per cent during the last quarter, even as it had closed 5,000 stores in the country during most of that time.

Other parts of China’s economy appear to be returning to normal as well, offering a potential lifeline to companies from Canada and elsewhere needing to sell their goods.

“I was talking today to someone who was in Beijing and she said, ‘Here’s the thing, there was a traffic jam and I had lunch with someone, and it’s the first time I’ve had lunch with someone in weeks,” said Sarah Kutulakos, executive director of the Canada China Business Council.

She said the key to China’s resumption of regular business activity is that everyone has been “incredibly conservative about social distancing and people are taking that very seriously.”

People wearing masks cross a street during after work rush hour, as businesses start returning to their normal routine, in Beijing.

People wearing masks cross a street during after work rush hour, as businesses start returning to their normal routine, in Beijing.

Thomas Peter/Reuters

That has benefited Canadian companies with operations in China as well.

For example, Toronto-based Neo Performance Materials Inc., which turns rare earth and rare metal-based materials into magnets and other products used in cars and high-tech devices, operates four factories in China, all of which are now operating and shipping goods again.

None of its 1,100 employees there have contracted COVID-19, but the company has said it implemented precautionary measures including temperature checks of its workers.

On a March 12 earnings call with analysts, chief executive Geoff Bedford said the supply chain is largely functional again, with his factories able to procure all the raw materials they need.

Still, it’s not all good news. China is still experiencing the repercussions from the lockdown period, including declining demand.

“We are seeing signs of slowing downstream demand from our customers, particularly for supply chains that are located within China,” Bedford said on the call.

He noted that more than 60 per cent of Neo Performance’s sales are related to the automotive industry, including vehicles manufactured for the Chinese domestic market, which is one particular area where demand is softening. But he also noted that trend was already happening the previous year.

Aurora, Ont.-based auto-parts manufacturer Magna International Inc. on Thursday reported that it expects softening demand in China, though its customers there are ramping up again after extended downtime throughout February. Meanwhile, many of its customers in North America and Europe have reduced production rates or temporarily closed.

Employees eat their lunch while staying 2 meters away from each other at the Dongfeng Fengshen plant on March 24, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.

Employees eat their lunch while staying 2 meters away from each other at the Dongfeng Fengshen plant on March 24, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.

Getty Images

Overall auto sales in the world’s biggest vehicle market dropped 79 per cent in February, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, which does not expect demand to normalize until the third quarter.

WPIC’s Jacob Cooke said Canada’s economy is intricately linked to China’s economy, even if diplomatic spats and trade wars are decoupling the two countries on cultural and political levels.

“They are completely intertwined,” he said. “If either of those pieces go down, it just creates huge problems for the global economy.”

Jacob was in China as it entered the peak of its outbreak and now he’s back in Canada as the coronavirus takes hold here, giving him some insight into how conditions are progressing in both countries.

“This has sort of been the whole process for me,” he said. “You’re basically experiencing it in cycles: you’re either cycling to further and further lockdowns or you’re opening up.”

Right now, Canada and the United States are still cycling to further lockdowns as the number of new cases detected continues to grow daily. But Jacob and his brother Joseph both said it only takes a bit of good news to swing momentum in the other direction.

“I’m feeling like it’s very quiet in Vancouver, and people are staying home,” said Joseph. “Let’s hope we curb the spread.”

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UK weather forecast: 121mph winds to destroy Britain as heavy floods cause travel misery | Weather | News


The Met Office issued a statement telling commuters that an overfall of water on roads will make journey times longer and tumultuous. There is currently a yellow warning in place as more than 1,000 properties were left without power. “Flooding of homes and businesses is likely,” they added.

Flights have been canceled at both Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, adding to the ongoing travel nightmare.

The warnings come after images were shared across social media of a roof being blown off a block of flats in Slough went viral.

The roof is pictured strewn across the high street and people have been warned to avoid the area.

The road is now closed and emergency services are at the scene, though Thames Valley Police said no-one was believed to be injured.

A taxi driver who narrowly missed being hit by the debris said it was “a miracle no-one was killed”.

Taxi driver Haris Baig, 30, from Slough, said his car was only metres away from being hit by the falling roof.

“At first I thought it was scaffolding, but then I realised the whole roof had come down,” he said.

“There was a massive amount of noise.

READ MORE: Solar storm warning: Space weather is ‘the greatest hazard to humanity

“I was about 15 metres away and slammed on my brakes. I got out to see if everyone was alright.

“That was my first reaction, but at the same time I was thinking is this even safe?”

“It was a disaster. It was a miracle no-one was killed,” he added.

The gale-force winds have also caused delays on the railway lines, with National Rail says it will be enforcing speed restrictions in the worst affected parts of the country.



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Met Eireann issues weather warning as ‘wintry falls’ forecast this weekend



Warming and relaxing near fireplace. Stock photo
Warming and relaxing near fireplace. Stock photo

Met Eireann has issued a weather warning as ‘wintry falls’ and temperatures as low as -2C are forecast for this weekend.

A status yellow wind warning has been issued for counties Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork and Kerry and will be valid from 6pm on Thursday to 9am on Friday. Mean wind speeds of 50 to 65km/h and gusts of 80 to 110km/h are expected.

Met Eireann has also warned that temperatures are forecast to drop to zero degrees on Friday night with wintry showers and frost.

On Saturday, temperatures are expected to further drop to -2C with brisk westerly winds and wintry showers. This will lead to a frosty start on Sunday morning with lingering ice in places.

Tom Cuddy, of Irish Water’s asset operations, said prolonged frost could lead to more water shortages in the Dublin area.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Cuddy appealed to people and businesses in the capital to conserve water coming up to the festive period.

It comes after 600,000 people were last month left with a boil water notice, on two separate occasions, resulting from problems with water quality at the plant.

While the semi-State works to address the issues at the plant, its capacity has been reduced, causing serious problems for the network.

“Essentially in the Greater Dublin area the supply and demand balance for drinking water is on the line.

“Our production capacity has reduced somewhat and there’s an inexorable increase in demand from households and from businesses as we come through the winter,” he said.

“This is a narrowing gap – the headroom between what we can produce and what’s demanded – and that has narrowed even further this year.

“In particular our production capacity has been reduced because we have constrictions at some of our treatment plants, in particular Leixlip.”

He said the semi-State was keen to raise people’s awareness about the issue.

“It’s very important that people are aware that they conserve water where they can, that they check their plumbing and that they report leaks,” he said.

The works at the Leixlip plant are not scheduled to be completed until next year.

Mr Cuddy said it was a rolling issue, “an enduring situation” that will go on for a number of months.

He said the other plants were at their maximum capacity to make up for the shortfall, while Irish Water was also repairing 1,500 leaks a month.

“There are the obvious winter challenges of cold weather. There’s also an increase in demand in customer use, particularly in businesses,” he said. He added the situation was “right on the line” but “stable” at the moment with no headroom in the event of sharp and prolonged frost.

According to Irish Water the current increase in demand is higher than any previous year and is 10 million litres a day, which, it said, was enough water to fill Liberty Hall and higher than this time last year.

It has appealed to people to conserve water through measures like turning off the tap while brushing teeth and shaving, which can save up to six litres of water per minute.

Irish Water has been upgrading the Vartry Water Supply Scheme by building a new treatment plant,

It has also upgraded the treated water reservoir at Stillorgan, representing an investment of approximately €200m.

“These upgrades are due to be completed in 2020,” it said, adding that at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant the old section of the plant is currently being upgraded on a phased basis.

The last boil water notice affected people in Dublin, Kildare and Meath for eight days.

It resulted from heavy rainfall washing amounts of organic matter into reservoirs.

This increased the turbidity (cloudiness) of the source water above acceptable levels.

Online Editors





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UK weather forecast: Chilly and damp day across the country as voters go to polls


The country is set for a cold and damp day as voters prepare to go to the polls in the general election .

It will be unsettled across the UK with temperatures getting colder as votes are cast on Election day.

There wll widespread showers and motorists have again been told to be on their guard with challenging windy conditions expected on roads for a second day.

The Met Office has issued four weather warnings as an icy snap is forecast.

Temperatures could go as low as -4 in northern parts of Scotland with frost expected.

The Met Office said surfaces and roads could be slippery, and advised people to take care when walking or driving, as voters prepare to head to the polls.

It’s a huge day across the country as the nation goes to the polls

“We have showers passing through many parts of the UK today, and there’s a risk of that turning to ice and there could be some snow in parts of Scotland,” said Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon.

Mr Claydon explained that wintry showers were only expected in areas above 200m, and said: “We are not expecting they will cause any real disruption.

“That is why it is an ice warning, rather than a snow warning.”

The two yellow weather warnings are in place from 6pm on Wednesday, overnight to 10am on Thursday.

The larger warning in central Scotland includes large parts of one of the closest election fights in the country – Perth and North Perthshire, where the SNP is defending a majority of just 21.

Ice is expected and weather warnings have been issued

The problem places where it will be very cold

Steven Keates from the Met Office told Sun Online: “It is going to be a bit of a miserable sort of day.

“Most people will see some rain, it is going to be quite breezy as well.

“If you are going out to vote take a brolly.

“The rain will be quite widespread tomorrow, with the wettest areas parts of south and western Britain.”

Mr Corbyn urged voters to end nine years of Conservative rule
Mr Corbyn urged voters to end nine years of Conservative rule

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Top news stories from Mirror Online

Five day forecast

Thursday:

Colder with rain. In the evening, rain will affect most areas but clear spells and showers are likely in Wales and south-west England. Snow is likely at times over northern hills. Through the night, rain will slowly clear eastwards, but Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern and eastern England will remain wet. Windy

Friday:

It will be mostly cloudy with outbreaks of rain and hill snow in the north and east. It will be dry and bright for a time in Wales and southern England before outbreaks of rain spread into the south-west during the evening. There will be a brisk westerly breeze. Temperatures slightly below average

Weekend:

On Saturday it will be bright with showers. The showers will be heaviest and most frequent in the west, some of which may be wintry. Strong south-westerly winds. Sunday is forecast to be cloudy with rain in southern parts of England and Wales. It will be bright with wintry showers in the north

Monday

More rain is expected but it should be milder. It will again be cold is Scotland.





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Winter weather blamed for seven deaths heads for the Northeast


The ugly winter weather already blamed for at least seven deaths as it has marched across the country was expected to make one last stand in the Northeast on Monday, bringing the first snow accumulations of the season to major cities like Philadelphia and Boston.

The National Weather Service forecast heavy snow for the Northeast and freezing rain over the region through Tuesday, especially in the northernmost areas of New England.

Boston and other coastal areas of Massachusetts were expected to get as much as 6 inches of snow, while areas farther inland could get up to 11 inches, with ice accumulations up to a tenth of an inch. The Philadelphia area could get as much as 5 inches, with up to a foot in areas of the southern Poconos and extreme northwest New Jersey.

New York City is expected to miss the worst of the storm, with about 1 to 3 inches of snow forecast through Monday night, mainly to the west of the city. But areas farther north could receive several inches, forecasters said.

While the stubborn system isn’t as big as the typical midwinter storm, the snow and ice will likely be enough to put a big crimp on travel plans as families finish returning home from their Thanksgiving holidays, just as it has done in the past week as it crept west to east across the United States.

With the worst yet to come on Monday and Tuesday, Boston Logan International Airport reported that 124 arrivals and departures were canceled on Sunday, along with 119 at Newark Liberty in New Jersey, 69 at Philadelphia International and 31 at LaGuardia in New York.

At Buffalo-Niagara International Airport in New York, ice caused a Delta-owned Endeavor Air flight from LaGuardia to skid off the taxiway on arrival on Sunday morning, airport officials said.

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No injuries were reported among the 72 passengers and crew, said Bill Major, the airport’s fire chief. Twenty-five other arrivals and departures were canceled on Sunday as rain iced up the runways during a fast drop in temperature, Major said.

“The weather and icing is an issue for the air field,” Major said. “It’s one of the bigger challenges they have, because it’s hard to keep up with.”

Snow and ice both helped and hampered firefighters as they battled a fire at the Mid-Station Lodge at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, New York, near Burlington, Vermont, authorities said Saturday night.

No cause had immediately been determined for the fire, in which no one was injured, NBC affiliate WPTZ of Burlington reported.

Assistant Chief Cliff Holzer of the Wilmington Fire Department, told WPTZ that the location of the fire was difficult to reach. But he said crews were able to take advantage of equipment at the site, using the giant guns that help to create artificial snow for skiers to attack the fire.

Scott Christiansen, vice president of the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the state agency that manages the lodge, said the building was destroyed.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and weather

The nasty holiday-week weather slammed the Midwest on Saturday and Sunday, burying Duluth, Minnesota, under 20 inches of snow, and has been blamed for at least seven confirmed deaths across the country.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said three people were killed in two separate water rescue incidents in heavily flooded Bollinger County, south of St. Louis, on Saturday.

Two boys, ages 5 and 8, drowned near Patton when the vehicle they were riding in was swept off a flooded road, the patrol said, and a Louisiana man was killed when his vehicle was swept into the Whitewater River.

Motorists navigate an intersection in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the early hours of a snowstorm that hit the region Sunday.Gillian Jones / AP

In Arizona, two children, both about 5 years old, were found dead on Saturday after they were reported missing when a vehicle was swept up a creek in Tonto Basin, about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix, the sheriff’s office said. Crews were still searching Sunday for a 6-year-old girl.

A 6-year-old boy died after he fell and struck his head when snow-removal equipment being driven by his father lurched in unincorporated Provo Canyon on Friday morning, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said. The boy’s 9-year-old brother was unhurt in the incident, in which authorities said their father wasn’t at fault.

And in South Dakota, a man was killed early Friday when the pickup truck he was riding in lost control on an ice-covered road near Cavour, in Beadle County, the state highway patrol said. Two other people in the truck weren’t seriously injured.

Near Chamberlain, South Dakota, in Brule County, investigators were also trying to determine to what extent the rough weather played a role in the crash of a single-engine turboprop plane shortly after takeoff on Saturday.

Nine people, including two children, were killed, the Brule County state’s attorney’s office said. The area was under a winter storm warning, with a few inches of snow having accumulated, the National Weather Service said.

While no official cause for the crash had been determined, “definitely we’ll be looking into the weather conditions,” said Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

An initial report isn’t expected for about two weeks, Knudson said.



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Weather forecast: Severe cold alert issued by Met Office as Arctic blast nears | Weather | News


The Met Office has warned cold weather is closing in on the UK. The weather agency issued a cold weather alert on Wednesday, warning of a “80 percent probability” of “severe cold weather” in parts of England.

The alert states the freezing temperatures are likely between midnight on Friday and 9am on Monday, December 2.

This weather could “increase the health risks to vulnerable patients” and “disrupt the delivery of services”, it warned.

The alert reads: “Change to colder condition overnight into Friday and through the weekend, with some very cold overnight temperatures and widespread frosts likely across the northern half of England.

“Daytime temperatures also remaining in the low single figures of Celsius, especially across rural parts.

READ MORE: The ONE thing which will stop you going to the doctor this cold season

“Mostly places dry, although a few very isolated wintry showers are possible across northeastern coasts.

“Overnight mist and freezing fog patches are possible across central England, leading to a cold day Saturday.

“Across the far south and southwest, temperatures could recover a little Saturday, with a small chance of rain.

“Staying cold, but dry for most Sunday and into Monday.”

According to bookies Ladbrokes, December could be the coldest ever recorded.

With a polar freeze set to wreak havoc across the UK, the bookies have cut offs from 6/1 to just 3/1 on next month being the coldest on record.

Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “We’re strapping ourselves in for a bitter December with record-breaking temperatures potentially on the way.”

  • December 2019 to be coldest on record – 3/1

How to stay safe in cold weather

Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous, especially for older people, those with underlying health conditions, and young children.

If you’re able, ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any support.

Stock up foods and medicines so you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy.

When indoors, stay warm, heat homes to at least 18°C, and keep up-to-date with the weather forecast.



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