UK weather forecasters are predicting snow and plunging temperatures to strike Britain as the warm Christmas has sparked fears of a “Beast from the East 2.
Sub-zero arctic air is set to push in this weekend bringing fierce gales and driving rain – as the Met Office warns of the first “widespread snow” of winter.
Every part of the UK will see strong winds over the next couple of days as a volatile Atlantic low-pressure system clips the country.
The worst of the gales will lash exposed parts of the north – while elsewhere gusts of up to 40mph are forecast widely through Saturday and Sunday.
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.”
But high pressure to the southwest of the UK will steer milder air into Britain pushing temperatures into double figures this weekend, she added.
But temperatures will take a tumble overnight as the first snowfall this year will hit over northern parts of Scotland on Sunday, according to the Met Office.
Meteorologist Alex Deakin said: “The winds will stay pretty lively through Saturday night into Sunday, but it’ll be a fairly mild night.
“A band of cloud and rain pushing south is a weather front.
“It’s a cold front and it’s bumping up against an area of high pressure, which kind of means the front will be fizzling out in terms of rainfall but it will introduce colder air during Sunday, particularly across the far north east.
“Some rain and drizzle over northern England, maybe into the Midlands on Sunday morning.
“To the south of that, some brighter spells and certainly further north it’ll brighten up a little bit in the afternoon.
“But a whole raft of showers in northern Scotland, and they will turn to sleet and snow over the hills.
“The temperatures will be interesting on Sunday because the maximum will be double digits for most – 10C or 11C.
“By the afternoon, temperatures will be falling away down into single figures and maybe only even 2C or 3C in Shetland.
“There’ll be a strong wind and that’s going to feel cold and cold enough for the showers here even to low levels later on on Sunday.
“That leads into Monday morning where there will be a frost in places – a chilly start to the new working week.
“Then turn a bit mild for a time, but later next week it could turn cold again and that could stick around for a while.”
Although it will turn much colder again next week – with growing signals for a more severe bout of winter weather later in the month, she added.
Ms Kent added: “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.”
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The imminent 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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