Britain will wake up under a blanket of snow on Friday when up to 10in falls on higher ground as the bitterly cold weather threatens to cause severe disruption.

Temperatures are expected to remain below zero in large parts of the country on what is predicted to be a "messy" day for travel.

Blizzards and strong winds are set to make conditions treacherous on the roads while motorists are being warned that heavy snow will arrive before the morning rush-hour.

The Met Office has issued an amber severe weather warning for the East Midlands, the North and South West, Wales, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber.

It came as police said a pensioner who was found dead in the street near his home may have collapsed while clearing snow from his driveway. Graham Clark, who was in his 70s, was discovered with serious head injuries in the village of Buxhall in Suffolk on Tuesday afternoon.

The latest bout of wintry weather is expected to set in overnight, hitting Wales and the South West before it pushes across the UK.

Laura Caldwell, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said 4-6in (10-15cm) is predicted to fall quite widely with as much as 10in (25cm) set to cover the hills.

"Parts of the West Country, Wales, the West Midlands and central and southern England are going to get quite a bit of snow tomorrow," she added. "There will be quite a few centimetres in the morning with up to 10cm falling through the day. That snow will carry on, pushing north and east so it will cover all of England by the end of the day and even parts of southern Scotland."

The Highways Agency has issued an amber alert and has placed ploughs and snow blowers on stand-by.

Steve Crosthwaite, head of the agency's National Traffic Operations Centre, urged drivers to allow more time for morning travel. "During periods of severe weather we also suggest people consider whether their journey is essential," he added. "They may want to delay their travel until conditions improve and to allow our winter fleet the chance to treat the roads."