Britain’s spell of mild weather that has brought double-digit temperatures is set to come to a swift end, with many places now bracing for snow and an Arctic freeze.
Tuesday will be the last day of mild temperatures before things begin to trend downward and snow is forecast for much of the country.
Some forecasts claim snow will cover parts of the country for up to a month as temperatures plunge to what could feel like -17C in places, with the worst conditions expected from next week through the start of February.
The Met Office is warning Britons to prepare for severe weather – including snow, ice and widespread frost – after saying it cannot rule out a repeat of last year’s chaotic ‘Beast from the East’.
When potentially life-threatening weather strikes, driving conditions are likely to become hazardous and blizzard-like conditions could develop.
The Met Office said snow could fall "almost anywhere" after this weekend, which some forecasters claim could be the coldest in a year.
On Tuesday, there will be persistent and often heavy rain in north-west Scotland, strong winds in the north and bright spells to the east of high ground.
It will be mostly cloudy with patchy rain and drizzle elsewhere.
The rain in the north-west will move south-eastwards in the evening as colder, showery conditions move into the far north-west towards dawn.
Wednesday will see heavy rain most eastwards across much of England and Wales, and it will be followed by colder weather, with a chance of snow over northern hills, the Met Office said.
Thursday will get off to a frosty start with cold temperatures during the day and wintry showers in the north.
Drivers have been warned of ice on Friday morning.
Rain and hill snow will arrive into the west and linger on Saturday, but it will be drier in the east.
Over this period temperatures will be in the low to mid single digits during the day and below zero at night in many places.
But things will turn colder after Sunday, increasing the risk of heavy snow, ice and widespread frost.
The latest weather maps are showing widespread snow falling from the Highlands in Scotland to southern parts of England next week.
Some forecasts claim there will be a dramatic drop in temperatures, and some places could feel like -17C at times.
The cold and snow weather is caused by a system similar to the one that spawned the ‘Beast from the East’ in February last year.
That system dumped so much snow that motorists were trapped on motorways overnight, flights were grounded and schools were forced to close.
Met Office five-day forecast
Persistent and often heavy rain will affect north-west Scotland today.
Otherwise there will be some bright spells to the east of high ground, but it will be mostly cloudy, with patchy rain and drizzle, and strong winds in the north.
The rain in the north-west will move south-eastwards, and ahead of it, it will be cloudy, mild and damp.
Colder, showery conditions will move into the far north-west towards dawn.
Occasionally heavy rain will move eastwards across much of England and Wales.
It will be followed by colder weather, with sunshine and showers, perhaps falling as snow over northern hills.
Thursday to Saturday
Frosty morning on Thursday, then a colder day, with wintry showers north.
Friday will start dry, perhaps icy, then rain and hill snow arriving into west, lingering into Saturday.
Surviving the cold weather
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