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Update: Met Office downgrades Cumbria snow alert
FORECASTERS have downgraded a weather warning they issued for Cumbria as the heaviest snowfall of the winter arrives in the UK.
On Wednesday, the Met Office put out an 'amber' warning - the second highest alert it uses - for South Cumbria, saying blizzard conditions and up to 25cm of snow could hit the region on Friday.
Weather maps clearly showed the southern half of the county lying in the path of heavy snowfall.
But today, the Met Office lowered this warning to a 'yellow' alert, as maps indicated the snow band would sit slightly lower across the British Isles than previously thought.
The worst of the wintry blast is now expected to hit Wales, the Midlands, the south and parts of the North West.
However, this doesn't mean Cumbria will escape completely.
In the amended forecast, weather experts say 'yellow warning' areas could still see snow accumulations of between 2cm-5cm.
Other parts of the North West remain on amber alert.
Winds are also likely to strengthen as daytime temperatures struggle to get higher than zero.
The yellow alert is effective between 1am and 11.55pm on Friday (January 18).
People have been urged to monitor weather reports and be prepared to alter their travel plans.
Cumbria County Council's gritters are on stand-by.
Cumbria’s public health experts also issued a warning and asked people to look out for vulnerable friends and relatives.
Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, Cumbria’s deputy director of public health, said: “We know that in the winter a higher number of people die in Cumbria than at other times of the year due to the colder weather.
“We’re trying to remind people to prepare for this cold spell and not forget the more vulnerable people living in our communities.
“We need older people and those who have long-term conditions to make sure they keep taking their medication and have sufficient supplies so that they don’t need to go out for more during the cold spell.
“I would urge people also to be good neighbours and make sure the people they live near, especially ones who are older or suffering from serious illness, are safe and well this winter.
“Vulnerable older people are more susceptible to the cold‚ so a quick visit to ensure everyone is warm and well can make all the difference."
Last month, Cumbria County Council launched a new online map and Twitter service so that people can keep track of gritting plans during the winter months.
It is updated each lunchtime to show which roads the council’s in-house fleet of gritters intend to treat that evening and overnight.
The map can be viewed on the council's website at http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/gritting/default.asp
Keep visiting The Westmorland Gazette website for the latest weather and travel news.
As part of our Grit Watch campaign, you can also use this page to let us know if roads in your area have not been gritted, or if salt bins are empty.
If you spot a problem, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us using the hashtag #WGgrit