The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for snow in parts of the North East on Thursday and Friday.

The forecaster said the alert, which is in place from 3pm on Thursday until midday Friday, could affect an area stretching from County Durham to Stoke-on-Trent, which will also include parts of the North East.

This includes Barnard Castle and Stanhope.

It warned heavy snow could cause “significant disruption”, including delays and cancellations to rail and air travel.

The Met Office also warned some rural communities could become cut off, while power cuts and interruption to mobile phone coverage was also possible.

Alongside the amber weather warning, the Met Office has also issued several yellow weather warnings for snow and ice which may lead to injuries from slips and falls and cause travel disruption - which includes other parts of the North East, including Newcastle, Middlesbrough, and Darlington.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has placed all regions of England under a level 3 cold weather alert – lasting until midnight on Thursday.

Agostinho Sousa, a consultant at UKHSA, said the cold weather could have a “serious impact” on people’s health, particularly the elderly, while Age UK has urged people to check in with their older neighbours and relatives.

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National Highways has issued a “severe weather alert” for snow in parts of England for Wednesday afternoon – asking people only to travel when essential on these parts of the road network.

The weather warning means driving conditions will be treacherous, especially for larger vehicles and those not equipped with four-wheel drive between 3pm and midnight in the West Midlands and the East of England.

HGV drivers have been asked to consider avoiding parts of the road network with steeper than normal inclines, where their vehicle could become jack-knifed or stranded, such as the M40 at junctions 4-5 and the A49 in Shropshire.

National Highways executive director of operations, Duncan Smith, said: “We are well prepared and our gritters have been out in full force since Friday and will continue to treat the roads.

“We are asking drivers to plan ahead, check the forecast and allow more time for their journeys.”