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UK weather forecast – Polar ice plunge to batter Britain next week after 50mph raging gales smash country

Sub-zero Polar air will push the mercury below zero next week as forecasters warn to brace for the first "widespread snow" of winter.

Every part of the UK will be hit with strong winds over the next couple of days as a volatile Atlantic low-pressure system clips the country.

Gales touching 50mph threaten to lash exposed parts of the north with gusts of up to 40mph forecast widely through the weekend.

Met Office forecaster Sarah Kent said: “The weekend will be a contrast to this week as it is going to become windy across the whole of the UK.

“We could see gusts of 50mph across Shetland and exposed parts of the north although across the whole of England and Wales winds will reach 35mph with gusts of 40 to 45mph possible in exposed regions.

“Very unsettled weather is going to continue through the weekend, this is something we are going to be keeping our eyes on.”

High pressure to the southwest of the UK will steer milder air into Britain pushing temperatures into double figures this weekend, she added.

It will turn colder again next week with growing signals for a more severe bout of winter weather later in the month, she added.

She said: “We could see highs of 10C or 11C over the weekend, but is going to turn cooler next week and less windy.

“It looks like the last week of January will bring a significant downward turn in temperatures, possibly becoming locally very cold.

“As Atlantic frontal systems come in and bump into this cold air we will have an enhanced risk of snowfall.”

Cold weather will be driven by a warming of the air over the North Pole dragging colder winds in from the east – a so-called Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW).

SSW was the driver for last year’s Beast from the East which brought the country to a shivering standstill at the end of winter.

Miss Kent said: “SSW has happened and it gives us an increased likelihood of colder weather in the UK.”

Britain could see the first widespread snow of winter by next weekend as the mild weather gives way to a freezing blast.

John Hammond, forecaster for Weathertrending, said: “By the weekend, I expect snow will be falling in places – initially across northern hills.

“But there’s a significant risk of more widespread snowfall as the next Atlantic system ‘bumps’ into the cold air, by then resident across the UK.”

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