Britain awoke to killer ice and fog for the third day in a row today as 17 people were injured in a coach crash.
Drivers were urged to take extra care as the Met Office issued a fog warning for the South East with visibility under 300ft.
And London airports were also crippled by the haze as holidaymakers going away for New Year were delayed.
Before dawn had even broken, a coach veered off a motorway slip road in Oxfordshire and flipped in heavy fog.
The male driver and 16 passengers on the M40 suffered injuries including broken bones, cuts and bruises.
There were also problems on train routes in Hampshire, Cardiff and Kent – with the latter caused by slippery rails.
Overturned: Seventeen people were injured today when a coach veered off a slip road in Oxfordshire and flipped in heavy fog
Rescue: The male driver and 16 men and women passengers suffered injuries including broken bones, cuts and bruises
Flipping it back: Paramedics said the ‘thick fog… presented challenges to the emergency services getting to the scene’
Turned upright: Six ambulances helped take the 17 casualties of the M40 accident to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford
Travel trouble for planes, trains and automobiles today
London City: Average delay of 118 minutes, 75% of flights delayed
London Gatwick: Average delay of 83 minutes, 89% of flights delayed
London Heathrow: Average delay of 70 minutes, 57% of flights delayed
M40 Oxfordshire: Severe delays following coach accident at J7 with diversion in place
M4 Berkshire: One lane closed between J8 and J10 near Wokingham following a car fire
M25 Hertfordshire: One lane blocked near Potters Bar following a broken down truck
M60 Manchester: One lane blocked between J15 and J16 after an accident involving three cars
M62 West Yorkshire: One lane closed near J29 for Lofthouse because of a broken down vehicle
Basingstoke and Eastleigh: Delays on CrossCountry and South West Trains due to an emergency incident
Tonbridge and Redhill: Delays on Southern due to slippery rail conditions in the Edenbridge area
Cardiff Central: Delays through the station after overrunning engineering work and a signalling problem
London Paddington & Slough / Heathrow: Trains at a reduced speed due to broken rail near Acton Main Line
City, Gatwick and Heathrow were the world’s three most delayed airports today thanks to the fog around London.
It was the third day in a row that City faced major delays due to fog, with 75 per cent of flights running late today.
The airport, which has had fog issues since Wednesday, had an average delay of almost two hours this morning.
Some 30 miles away London Gatwick also faced problems due to the fog, with 90 per cent of its flights delayed.
Meanwhile Heathrow Airport confirmed it was in heavy fog and about 30 flights had been cancelled by 9.30am.
Holidaymakers looking to leave Britain for a New Year break expressed their frustration at the delays.
Some flights at Heathrow suffered short delays but take off times for others were put back by up to five hours.
James Griffiths, 29, and his girlfriend Katie Wiseman, 28, left their home in York at 2am to catch a flight to Paris.
Outlook: Fog and frost will continue to affect Europe, with temperatures struggling to get above freezing in many countries
Covered: This satellite image taken this morning reveals how extensive fog is over the South East of England this morning
But the couple arrived Heathrow ahead of their romantic break, they learned that their flight had been cancelled.
They were told they should wait until tomorrow or take the chance of waiting for standby seats later today.
Miss Wiseman said: ‘We live miles and miles and miles away in York. We left in the early hours this morning.
‘We were supposed to leave at 10.50am, but they’re told us it’s the fog that’s made it impossible.
‘We’re still worried we might miss the New Year’s celebrations. We’ve not gone anywhere yet and we’re just stuck.’
Another passenger, Ian Lambert, 43, is in the midst of a mammoth journey from his home in Dublin to Bangkok.
Another passenger said his daughter had her flight to Amsterdam delayed by more than five hours.
Accident: The Oxford Bus Company coach crashed on the M40 slip road near Milton Common in Oxfordshire at 2.45am
Danger: Paramedics said ‘thick fog’ had made access to the scene on the M40 much harder and police shut the road for hours
Concern: South Central Ambulance Service declared the M40 crash a ‘major incident’ due to the number of patients involved
But he added: ‘These things happen. They’re been very good to us, fed us for free, so we can’t complain really.’
Zena Ali, 26, was delayed leaving Edinburgh this morning meaning she missed her connecting flight to Jeddah.
Her flight to London was three hours late, hitting her plans to spend the New Year with relatives in Saudi Arabia.
The Dundee-based student said: ‘It’s so annoying. This is my first time here, in London, so I’m not used to delays.
‘I know delays are something that happen, but I’m going to see my family, so I’m really frustrated.
‘The not knowing is the thing that is really annoying me. They can’t say what I am supposed to do.’
Heathrow admitted that the ‘vast majority’ of inbound and outbound flights had been affected by the fog.
Planes wait on the tarmac at Heathrow Airport this morning as fog hits London and results in delays to dozens of flights
Heathrow officials confirmed the airport was in heavy fog and about 30 flights had been cancelled by 9.30am
Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport for British Airways flights today as the capital was hit by fog
Heathrow officials admitted that the ‘vast majority’ of inbound and outbound flights had been affected by the fog
A spokesman added: ‘Passengers need to check the status of their flight with their airline before they travel.
‘Pretty much everything has been delayed this morning, and there’s a lot of fog across Europe too.’
Officials added that flights should return to normal schedule this afternoon when the fog clears.
Forecasters said that sub-zero temperatures are also causing a risk of icy patches on some untreated surfaces.
This fog will only slowly lift and thin today, even lingering into the afternoon in some parts of East Anglia.
The M40 crash saw the Oxford Bus Company coach come off the northbound slip road near Milton Common.
Paramedics said ‘thick fog’ had made access to the scene harder and police shut the road after the 2.45am crash.
A sign on the M25 near London Heathrow Airport warns motorists of fog after forecasters warned of visibility as low as 300ft
The M25 sign near London Heathrow Airport this morning warns motorists to ‘slow down’ following concerns over fog and ice
Hazardous conditions: Vehicles are only just visible through the dense fog on the A42 in Leicestershire this morning
A car uses its fog lights as it drives through the Nottinghamshire village of Kingston-on-Soar this morning
The accident happened just 20 miles from a fatal pile-up on the A40 in Oxfordshire in similar fog on Wednesday.
Six ambulances helped take the 17 casualties to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford this morning.
Thames Valley Police are investigating and Sergeant Mark Scully said the fog was ‘dense’ at the time of the crash.
He told Sky News: ‘We are lucky at the moment we are not dealing with anything considered life-threatening.’
Holidaymakers returning from London Heathrow Airport after their Christmas holidays were on board the vehicle.
Firefighters scoured the wreckage for passengers who may have been thrown through the windows of the coach.
It was wedged halfway down a bank, and thermal heat cameras were used in case passengers had been missed.
Buses and pedestrians travel over Westminster Bridge in dense fog in London today, with few – if any – landmarks visible
People walking on a foggy morning on Hampstead Heath in North London as visibility dropped below 300ft in the South East
People walk and buses travel over Westminster Bridge in dense fog in London this morning, a day before New Year’s Eve
Taking a look: A blanket of fog can be seen underneath Clifton Suspension Bridge this morning in Bristol
Fog shrouds St Paul’s Cathedral, seen from the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames in London this morning
Not much of a view: People talk amidst the fog on the Clifton Downs near the Suspension Bridge this morning in Bristol
Tower Bridge: Visibility is poor on the River Thames this morning after a think blanket of fog dropped onto the capital
A motorist drives through the Oxfordshire countryside near Playhatch which is carpeted in thick fog this morning
Fog shrouds the London Eye on the south bank of the River Thames in London this morning as visibility plunged
A dog walker out on a freezing but clear morning by the River Cam in Cambridge today
The crash happened at the exactly same spot where a double-decker Oxford Tube bus overturned six years ago.
It’s been one of the driest Decembers ever
December has been one of the driest months in more than a hundred years, according to the Met Office.
England had just over a third (37%) of the average rainfall while Wales got under half the normal amount (47%).
Scotland got just over three quarters of the average (78%) while Northern Ireland had just over three fifths (62%).
The lowest rainfall during the month for any region is the South East where only 0.7 inches was recorded so far.
This was less than a quarter of the amount expected. It has now been the fourth most arid December since 1910.
Although rainfall for 2016 was average, October was also extremely dry while January and June were very wet.
The provisional report also reveals that, with three days to go, 2016 was Britain’s 13th warmest recorded year.
The average temperature is expected to reach 9.3C. The warmest year in the UK since 1910 was 2014 with 9.9C.
Oxford University student Ali White, 20, said passengers were forced to clamber over each other to escape.
She added: ‘We were practically having to stand on other people who were still stuck in their seats.
‘We were walking over the overhead lockers and the coach was just a mess.
‘When we got to the top, the bus driver was there and was bleeding pretty badly.
‘But he was helping people get out and didn’t get out himself until everyone else had.
‘People who had been on the bus, complete strangers, were just crying and hugging each other.’
The ‘very experienced’ driver has been working overnight shifts for many years, the Oxford Bus Company said.
Managing director Phil Southall said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the crash on the way to Oxford.
Mr Southall said: ‘Our thoughts are with those who have been injured, particularly at this time of year.’
He added that the 54-year-old driver has been working for the company for 20 years, and the firm is investigating.
Met Office meteorologist Emma Sillitoe said: ‘The main thing we have had is large, dense freezing fog patches.
‘People driving around in the morning should take care on the roads.’
The ‘yellow’ fog warning issued by the Met Office until 10am today affects much of southern England.
But patches of freezing fog have been witnessed from the Midlands and the Humber to the South West.
Fog shrouds Tower Bridge on the River Thames in London after forecasters warned of visibility as low as 300ft today
Fog shrouds the Houses of Parliament in London across the Thames today after the Met Office issued a weather warning
Poor visibility: Fog shrouds a Thames Clipper passing the Houses of Parliament in London in foggy conditions this morning
A Thai couple pose for pre-wedding photographs ahead of their marriage in July, as fog shrouds the Houses of Parliament
And while the cold will continue into the weekend, there will be a cloudy and wet start to the New Year.
The Met Office has issued another fog warning to drivers with visibility dropping below 300ft in parts of the South East
The rain will be in the North on New Year’s Eve, while it will be dry and cloudy in the South for the celebrations.
Showers will move down Britain on New Year’s Day then clear before a return of sunny days and frosty nights.
Temperatures fell to -5C in Norfolk early today although the UK low was -8C yesterday and -7C on Wednesday.
Yesterday temperatures dipped to -7.7C in Powys, Mid Wales, a day after they fell to -7.2C in North Yorkshire.
The AA urged ‘extreme caution’ for those heading out on the roads, adding that extra time should be allowed.
Experts also told drivers to ensure their tyres are properly inflated and windscreens adequately de-iced.
The A40 accident was one of five road deaths since Tuesday, with the latest in Gloucestershire yesterday.
There were other road deaths in Hampshire on Wednesday and two incidents in Suffolk on Tuesday.
Fog shrouds the Houses of Parliament in London as the number 12 bus makes its way to Dulwich this morning
A stunning sunrise observed over Mupe Bay in Dorset this morning, as the UK braces itself for more fog and cold weather
A misty sunrise over the outstanding hills of the Peak District National Park near Buxton this morning
The DFDS Princess of Seaways arrives at the mouth of the River Tyne on the north east coast of England at sunrise today
When will it end? Miserable Southern train passengers are warned of even more ‘severe’ problems over the New Year weekend thanks to yet another strike
Southern rail passengers have been warned that services will yet again be ‘severely disrupted’ this weekend.
The problems over the next few days are due to a fresh strike by guards and an ongoing overtime ban by drivers.
The disrupted routes
On New Year’s Eve there will be no Southern train services on these routes: Clapham Junction – Milton Keynes; Chichester – Portsmouth / Southampton; Lewes – Seaford; Eastbourne – Ashford International; Oxted – Uckfield; Haywards Heath – Lewes; Redhill – Reigate.
These routes will either have ticket acceptance with another operator or a replacement bus service.
On Sunday January 1 there will be a Sunday service and on Monday January 2 there will be a Saturday service.
On both January 1 and 2 there will be no Southern train services on these routes: Ashford – Hastings; Hurst Green – Uckfield; Havant – Portsmouth Harbour; Clapham Junction – Milton Keynes; Redhill – Reigate.
These routes will either have ticket acceptance with another operator or a replacement bus service.
On January 2 there will also be a significantly reduced service from Brighton for stations towards Hove, Littlehampton and Havant and Southampton. Services that would have run from London or Brighton to Portsmouth will run only to or from Chichester.
Rail, Maritime and Transport union members will walk out for three days from New Year’s Eve in a long-running row over the role of conductors.
Rail, Maritime and Transport union members will walk out for three days from New Year’s Eve in a long-running row over the role of conductors, while Aslef is continuing a ban on overtime in protest at driver-only trains.
The action will cause more travel chaos for passengers who have suffered delays and cancellations for months because of the industrial action, shortage of staff, sickness and other issues such as signalling problems.
Passengers are being advised to check before they travel this weekend.
Southern said it will have a team of ‘contingency conductors’ keeping key routes open, but services on some routes will be reduced and finish earlier, while other routes will have no services or a replacement bus service.
Services on all routes will be subject to possible cancellation and severe disruption because of the on-going driver overtime ban.
Alex Foulds, Southern’s deputy chief operating officer, said: ‘While we will do everything we can to get passengers where they want to go, we have to warn people that journeys may be disrupted and take longer than normal.
‘Our best advice is to check on the day you travel, particularly if you are heading out to New Year celebrations, as services on some routes finish early in the evening.
‘We are sorry that yet again passengers will have their plans disrupted by what is pointless industrial action. Our door remains open for meaningful talks and we urge the RMT to see sense and join us in delivering a better railway for everyone in 2017.’
RMT leader Mick Cash said: ‘The solution to this continuing chaos is in the hands of Govia Thameslink Railway – which runs Southern – and the Government.
‘If the owners, the Go Ahead Group, spent a fraction of the millions they are stockpiling in profits and dividends on staffing and safety this dispute could be resolved overnight. RMT remains available for talks.’
What’s that coming over the hill, is it a fogbow?
They are formed by the same process of refraction and reflection that creates rainbows, and look just as spectacular.
But instead of them being created thanks to raindrops, ‘fogbows’ are formed by the water droplets in fog, mist or cloud.
And this impressive example was spotted by Matthew Johnson in his home village of West Haddon, Northamptonshire.
Fogbows form from sunlight interacting with water droplets in fog, which normally have a diameter of less than 0.1mm.
These tiny droplets cause the light to undergo diffraction, which means the fogbows appear to have no colour.
Fogbows are often seen with the ‘glory’ phenomenon of pale-coloured rings at the bow’s centre, the Met Office said.
Unusual formation: A fog bow spotted by 42-year-old Matthew Johnson outside his home village of West Haddon in Northamptonshire