Meanwhile, I spoke to a friend in Southern Germany where the temperatures are unseasonably high (22C - 72F) - no 'white Christmas' for Germany
Winter snow storm hits New England as '15 die' in US
Fifteen people have been reported killed by a severe snow storm moving into north-eastern US states after disrupting Christmas in the Midwest.
27 December, 2012
States in New England are due to see heavy snowfall, with up to 18 inches of snow expected in parts of Maine, the National Weather Service said.
Flights were grounded and road collisions reported as the storm moved across the middle of the US.
As many as 34 tornadoes were reported across the South o Christmas Day.
The storm moved across the Upper Ohio Valley and into the US north-east on Wednesday night. Heavy snow was also reported in eastern parts of Canada.
Hundreds of thousands of people are reported to have lost power as a result of the storm, the Associated Press (AP) said.
Winter storm warnings issued by the National Weather Service on Thursday said temperatures could dip to nearly 20F (-6C) and warned of dangerous travel conditions with near-zero visibility on roads.
Storm-related deaths were reported in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia, AP said.
'Sleet and freezing rain'
As much as 12in to 18in (30.5cm to 46cm) of snow could fall in parts of Maine on Thursday, the latest weather advisory added.
Meanwhile, southern parts of the Canadian province of Quebec could receive up to 17in of snow, according to Environment Canada.
In Concord, New Hampshire, resident Dale Lamprey said he had been on the streets before 05:00 EST (10:00 GMT) on Thursday morning, trying to clear the snow.
"It's been windy, it's been snowing and I think it changed over to sleet and freezing rain at one point. It's pretty bad," he told AP.
Inbound flights were delayed in Philadelphia and at New York's LaGuardia airport, as thousands of travellers were trying to return home after Christmas.
Flights were also cancelled in Canada, with Toronto and Montreal affected, reports said.
Earlier in the week Little Rock, Arkansas, saw its first snow on Christmas Day in 83 years, while in neighbouring Oklahoma seven inches of snow were blamed for a 21-vehicle pile-up on an interstate highway outside Oklahoma City.
Thirty-four tornadoes were reported in the southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday. A large section of a church roof in Mobile, Alabama, was ripped off by a twister.
Falling trees claimed the lives of two people in Texas and Louisiana. Deaths were also reported on the roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
2012 poised to become wettest year on record in UK
More downpours and 80mph winds forecast for this weekend, with 1.8in of rain needed to break record
27 December, 2012
Forecasters are warning of a stormy end to 2012, with the year set to become the wettest on record in the UK.
The Environment Agency warned of more misery as a barrage of rain sweeps in, with the west of the country taking the brunt.
Many areas are still saturated after floods before Christmas. The agency has 84 flood warnings and 191 flood alerts in place, with the Midlands and south-east worst affected.
In London, the Thames Barrier was raised on Thursday morning for the first time since March 2010, to reduce the risk of flooding as water from days of downpours causes high levels further upstream. It will be raised again on Friday morning.
A storm brewing in the Atlantic could bring up to two inches (50mm) of rain and 80mph winds in some areas this weekend.
Provisional figures show that 1.8in (46mm) of rain is needed between 27 and 31 December for 2012 to be the wettest year on record for the UK.
A new record has already been set for England, with 43.1in (1,095.8mm) falling between 1 January and Boxing Day, the Met Office said.
New regional rainfall records have been set in several areas of England, including the north (49.3in), east and north-east (41in), the Midlands (41.3in), and East Anglia (31in).
An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "The weather is set to remain unsettled into the weekend. With the ground still very wet and river levels running high, any rain is likely to increase the risk of flooding.
"There is also an ongoing risk of flooding from groundwater, particularly in Dorset, and some larger rivers like the Thames and Severn are still rising as they slowly respond to the recent downpours. As a result we may see further flooding of low-lying land, such as flood plains and low-lying roads, as the peak in river levels moves downstream."
Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning are likely to see the worst of the stormy weather, with wind speeds reaching 80mph in areas including north-east Scotland and the Western Isles. More showers will arrive over western Britain and Northern Ireland on Sunday.
The British Geological Survey has an amber landslide warning in place for the south-west and is urging walkers to take care along coastal routes.
Lightning is believed to have started blazes at Lytchett Minster school, and the derelict Cliff House Hotel, a few miles from each other in Bournemouth, Dorset.
The heavy rain and late-running engineering works meant a miserable return to work for many rail travellers on Thursday.
First Great Western said the main line in the south-west, which has been closed since before Christmas because of flooding between Exeter St Davids and Tiverton, was expected to reopen on Saturday.
North India cold snap kills 25
Heavy fog has disrupted train services
26 December, 2012
At least 25 people have died in a cold snap sweeping across northern India, state-run broadcaster All India Radio has said.
The majority of deaths were in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana are among the other northern states badly hit.
Most deaths were among homeless and elderly people.
Heavy fog has disrupted flights and train services out of the capital, Delhi, and neighbouring states.
The capital Delhi is also affected by the cold spell, with temperatures dipping to 7C and fog disrupting flight schedules.
Dense fog has also affected train services and flights in Rajasthan, where temperatures fell to 3.8C.
An official from the India Meteorological Department said the cold weather would continue for a number of days