Dozens of flights out of the UK’s largest airport have been cancelled as freezing fog causes disruption to transport networks. Forecasters warned that much of south-eastern England would be hit by travel delays as a patch of cold weather moves in.

The Met Office said an area stretching from London almost to the Humber was at risk and issued a yellow warning – the least severe. Parts of south-eastern England, including most of East Anglia and the home counties, as well as much of the east Midlands, were likely to be affected, they said.

Northern Scotland, however, escaped freezing temperatures on Sunday night. In a reversal of traditional weather patterns, temperatures reached 10.1C in Kinlochewe in the Highlands, while they dropped to-9.5C in Santon Downham, Suffolk.

Heathrow recorded its coldest night since December 2010 and its coldest January night since 1987 as temperatures dropped to -8.4C.

British Airways said the freezing fog meant fewer aircraft could land and depart. A spokesperson said: “Like other airlines, our schedule has been affected by the continued freezing fog weather conditions experienced across London.

“We’ve apologised to customers whose flights have been affected and are doing everything we can to get them on their way as quickly as possible. We advise customers to check for the latest flight information.”

The BBC reported that British Airways had cancelled about 80 flights.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Poor visibility is forecast this morning at the airport and across the south-east. While there may be minor changes to today’s schedule as a result of the weather, we want to reassure passengers that our colleagues are working in close collaboration with our airline and air traffic control partners to get them safely away on their journeys as quickly as possible.

“We encourage passengers to check with their airline for the latest information.”

The spokesperson added that, by late morning, the fog had largely dissipated and the airport was operating as normal.

The Met Office tweeted: “What a contrast this morning. Stepping out of the door across the north-west of the UK and you can ditch the gloves … though ice scrapers at the ready in the south-east.”

It said Monday was beginning cold and clear with some freezing fog in the east and south-east of England. It said it would be cloudy with some patchy light rain in the north and west of the nation.

Temperatures were not expected to rise above zero in London until midday and are unlikely to top 4C later in the day, while they could reach 10C by mid-afternoon in Northern Ireland.

Sunday had mixed weather conditions across the UK as milder air moved into northern and western parts, while southern and eastern areas remained cold.

Temperatures reached 10.9C at Achnagart in the Scottish Highlands on Sunday. But it was also the wettest place in the country with 15mm of rain.

Temperatures dipped to -9.7C at Benson in Oxfordshire, while Weybourne in Norfolk was the sunniest place in the UK with 7.4 hours of clear skies.

On Sunday night, Cambridgeshire fire and rescue service urged drivers to take extra care as icy conditions were likely to remain “for a few days”.

The London fire brigade told people to be careful when using an open fire to stay warm: “Don’t risk using treated wood on fires. Not only can they produce toxic fumes, but they are also more likely to spit embers when burnt, which could set alight to nearby objects.”

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