Parts of Britain are braced for a return of snow and gale force winds, less than a fortnight after blizzard conditions brought disruption to schools, airports and traffic networks.

Snow is predicted to fall throughout the morning, with up to 10cm in places by the afternoon along with 60mph to 70mph winds, as experts warned that temperatures were set to continue dropping throughout the week.

A forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "The worst of the snow storms will have been overnight and throughout this morning, with the risk of snow decreasing throughout the day.

"Western Scotland will predominantly get the heaviest snow, with up to 10cm, while northern Ireland and Wales will see up to 4cm and north England up to six. However, other areas, even in the south, might see some light snow storms, hail and sleet.

"There will also be some pretty strong winds throughout the morning, in areas affected by these snow showers, which will result in blizzard conditions."

The forecaster added: "By the end of the week there could be more snow storms around, and even parts of the south may see some snow."

Amber "be prepared" warnings for snow have been issued by the Met Office for many parts of Scotland, including the Highlands and Western Isles, Strathclyde, the south west, Lothian and Borders and Central, Tayside and Fife areas. In England the north-west, north-east and East Midlands are also affected.

Snow which began to fall in these areas overnight will continue into the morning, with some heavy showers and blizzard conditions predicted, it said.

A yellow "be aware" alert for high winds in many regions including Orkney and Shetland, the Highlands and Strathclyde is also in place.

Snow storms brought parts of the country to a standstill at the end of January. Hundreds of drivers were forced to spend the night in their cars on the M6 in Lancashire after more than a foot of snow fell.