LIGHT snow flurries have begun in parts of Hampshire - but severe weather warnings remain in place across the county for tomorrow as residents prepare to bear the brunt of the Siberian blast.

A freezing blizzard is expected to sweep the county tomorrow as temperatures plummet to –5C (23F) with motorists being told only to make journeys where necessary.

Met Office experts say Hampshire will be hit by a barrage of snow, sleet and gale force winds throughout the day, with some parts of the county likely to be blanketed in up to 6in (15cm) of the white stuff.

Although Southampton is expected to avoid the worst of the snowfall, the city could still be coated in around 2in (5cm) of snow by the afternoon.

Forecasters and motoring groups have urged drivers to take extra care on the roads and to make routine checks on their vehicles before making journeys.

The warning comes after the Daily Echo launched its Stay Warm campaign, encouraging people across the county to look out for elderly friends, relatives and neighbours during the winter blast.

As previously reported, Hampshire’s civic chiefs have moved to assure residents that they have “robust procedures” in place to deal with snowfall and keep our roads moving.

But the AA has issued a warning to drivers to take extra care as the cold snap takes an icy grip on the county.

Last night the AA revealed that they attended around 9,000 breakdowns across the UK yesterday morning alone, as thousands of cars failed to get off their driveways.

And they expected the number of call-outs to reach 17,000 by the end of the day – up from around 9,500 on an average Wednesday.

It meant that breakdown teams were dealing with almost 2,000 call-outs every hour during peak times.

Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “Winter’s really starting to bite now with widespread freezing conditions and the prospect of more snow at the end of the week.

“We’re likely to see some pretty horrible driving conditions on Friday with drifting snow and potentially blizzard-like conditions across higher level routes in particular. Check the Met Office weather alerts and traffic reports before departing and allow a bit more time for your journey, as you don’t want to rush on potentially icy roads.”