IT was the day the sea froze.

The edge of Poole Harbour turned to ice and the district shivered as temperatures reached -10C at Bournemouth Airport.

The cold snap again disrupted rush hour traffic yesterday, with several accidents occurring on the icy roads.

And, in scenes reminiscent of the big freeze of 1962-3, a half-mile stretch of the shoreline and the inner harbour were covered in ice.

Bournemouth Echo: Sandbanks Nick and Clina Hopwood and their son Tom walk along the beach at Sandbanks where the sea froze

Weather experts recorded the -10C temperature at Bournemouth Airport on Tuesday at 8pm and again at 9pm, before the temperatures started to rise again overnight, to zero by 5am yesterday.

The Met Office said that low daytime temperatures and frosts overnight would continue this week, with the risk of more icy roads.

Richard Wild of WeatherNet said the coldest place locally was Winfrith, which hit -10.2C, the lowest minimum temperature in 17 years.

Low daytime temperatures and frosts overnight will continue this week, but the worst of the cold weather should be over.

“It will be much milder but more normal for January temperatures by the end of the weekend,” he said. “We certainly have had the worst.”

Amateur weather expert Mark Ching, author of The Blizzard of 78: The Snowstorm That Buried Dorset, said when overnight temperatures get down in the region of minus 10, the sea can freeze near the shore. Dorset Police said icy and treacherous road conditions had been reported across the district, including on the Spur Road, at Ashley Heath roundabout, Boundary Lane roundabout at St Leonards, in Ferndown, Blandford, Sturminster Newton, Gillingham and on the Christchurch bypass.

Accidents during rush hour added to the existing tailbacks caused by road works on the A338 Spur Road yesterday, where a waterway is being re-laid in the verge.

Bournemouth Echo: Spur Road Accidents on the A338 Bournemouth Spur Road made tailbacks caused by roadworks even worse

A green and silver Toyota ended up on its side at the Boundary Lane roundabout near St Leonards and St Ives at 6.39am yesterday, and the female driver was said to be shaken but otherwise not injured.

A silver Ford Focus spun off the road at the Ashley Heath roundabout at around 8.30am yesterday.

The road was partially blocked southbound with queuing traffic.

Bournemouth council carried out its full gritting programme on a total of 215 roads and the Ashley Heath, Boundary Lane and Canford Bottom roundabouts were gritted more than once.

Driving conditions were described as “hazardous” because of ice on the A35 Wimborne Road at Fleets Corner in Poole.

The plummeting temperatures have earned this winter a place in the weather record books, alongside the great winter of 1962/3 and the blizzard of 1978.

The winter of 1962/3 was the coldest since 1740 and saw the sea freeze in Poole Harbour, with seagulls stuck to the ice. The waterfall that drops to Kimmeridge Beach also froze.

Bournemouth Echo: Seagulls Poole Park lake and the seagulls are left to wander on the frozen surface

In 1978, an exceptional blizzard left Dorset virtually cut off from the outside world and in 1991, Bournemouth recorded a temperature of just 12F – approximately minus 11C. Andrea Bailey, an information adviser with Age Concern Bournemouth in Winton, urged older people to try and stay warm including wearing layers, and to apply for all the money and grants due to them.

They can offer free and impartial help and advice on 01202 530530.

The government said people on certain benefits would automatically receive a cold weather payment, separate from the Winter Fuel Payments, where weather stations recorded the temperature as being at 0C or below for seven consecutive days.