Birmingham is bracing itself for a week of Arctic weather as temperatures plummet to -6C (21F).

Gritters were out in force across the region overnight with vehicles covering the major routes as temperatures plunged.

They battled through the traffic as the earliest snowfall for 17 years arrived in the Midlands amid dire warnings the worst is yet to come.

According to weather forecasters Tuesday and Wednesday could be the worst with blizzards expected and up to eight inches of snow.

The Arctic blast has been caused by high pressure over Greenland and low pressure in the Baltics, forcing cold winds from the north east.

Met Office forecaster Tom Morgan said the cold snap would last for the next week at least.

“Snow showers are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday in the West Midlands and they could be fairly frequent,” he said. “It will remain very cold.”

The icy temperatures led to an increase in accidents on the roads across the city and the AA revealed it had dealt with over 15,000 calls on Sunday.

The RAC was particularly busy on Saturday, attending thousands of call-outs with the West Midlands suffering the most due to flat batteries and non-starts, as the cold grips the country and causes widespread travel disruption. Driving conditions in many parts of the country remained treacherous caused by ice and snow. Motorists travelling today are advised to check local weather reports and traffic conditions as the bad weather spreads across the UK.

Birmingham City Council also warned of the dangers of attempting to walk or skate on any ice-covered park lakes and ponds during the big freeze. Councillor Martin Mullaney, cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said: “Although it is a perfect opportunity to enjoy our parks, the Arctic weather conditions can be very dangerous if you don’t take them seriously.

“We don’t want to ruin people’s fun but would remind people that when pools and lakes freeze over there is a grave danger that this will lead to people falling through the ice into freezing water.”