The Ministry of Defence last night said troops are ready to help towns and villages battered by extreme weather as Britain braces for EIGHT inches of snow triggered by an Arctic blast.

A massive plunge in temperatures will begin on Wednesday with lows of -10C (14F) forecast and the potential for the freak phenomenon known as “Thundersnow”. The Government has issued a raft of severe weather warnings for snow and Arctic gales while a health alert is in place until Sunday.

Officials warn to expect disruption to transport systems, hazardous driving conditions and power outages sparked by freezing gales from Arctic Canada. Yellow weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office, as higher regions brace for the harsh winds and 20cm of snow.  The Met Office said: “Lightning may accompany the heaviest showers, with potential disruption to power supplies as a consequence,” adding that thundersnow was possible.