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Batten down the hatches and grab those winter woollies – the Siberian blast is here.

A freezing blizzard was due to take an icy grip on the county today, causing travel chaos for motorists during the morning rush-hour and forcing schools across the region to close.

Two Southampton schools, Vermont and Springwell, announced as early as yesterday afternoon that they would be closed today, with dozens more expected to follow suit as a barrage of snow, sleet and gale-force winds sweep across Hampshire.

Cancelled Cantell Maths and Computing College, in Bassett, said if it is forced to close because of snow, it would remain open for Year 11 students taking their GCSE philosophy exams this morning.

Southampton’s school transport unit also confirmed last night that it had cancelled its special needs transport for all schools today.

Met Office experts said that parts of the county would be left under a 6in (15cm) blanket of the white stuff, with up to 2in (5cm) predicted for Southampton.

Gritters were out in force in the early hours of this morning as Hampshire’s civic chiefs fought to battle the Arctic conditions and keep our roads moving.

Around 100 farmers were also on standby to help clear snow from the roads using snow ploughs, with volunteer drivers in 4x4 vehicles also at the ready to get to key workers like doctors and nurses.

The county council’s deputy leader Councillor Mel Kendal said: “The forecasts we receive indicate that it will snow in Hampshire from approximately 4am and that it is likely to be persistent, with 5cm to 10cm settling across the county, although to a lesser extent in coastal areas.

Do their bit “I would ask people to do their bit to help by using the salt in the community salt bins to treat public roads and pavements near where they live.”

Last night Hampshire police urged motorists to avoid travelling on the roads this morning unless absolutely necessary.

Southampton Airport bosses had staff working through the night and were confident of avoiding disruption to flights today.