Britain’s dry and calm weekend of weather this weekend is expected to be brought to an abrupt halt as sub-zero temperatures and snow are forecast across large parts of the country.
Heading into Monday and Tuesday, the Met Office has issued an alert for snow and ice for all of Scotland and most of Northern Ireland as the calm weather of the weekend takes a turn for the worse.
Up to four inches could fall over those two days, with forecasters warning of blizzards and frequent lightning strikes, which could cause power cuts and mass travel disruption.
Temperatures around the country are expected to plummet following this week’s relatively mild weather, with some parts of the country expected to be gripped by lows of -6C next week.
Patchy mist and cloudy conditions are expected for many tomorrow, although there will be sunny spells in south-west England throughout the day.
Into the afternoon, persistent rain will fall over western Scotland and Norther Ireland, with strong south-westerly winds helpings to bring some snow over the hills in the evening.
A cloudy and wet night is expected on Sunday night, with rain from Scotland moving south-eastwards, affecting virtually all regions by Monday morning. It is expected to be its heaviest in the western parts of Scotland and gradually getting lighter the further south into England the rain continues, although heavy bursts could occur.
Remote parts of Britain will be hit by freezing winds in Scotland and snow could even fall on higher grounds.
People pack out The Long Walk in Windsor Great Park on a cold dull afternoon in Windsor, Berkshire
People were seen walking in The Long Walk in Windsor, Berkshire, with temperatures below freezing after a night of clear cloudless skies
The Windsor Duck Tour takes people down the River Thames on a cold dull afternoon as one bystander takes a picture of the yellow boat
Overnight temperatures could plummet to -3C across most areas, dipping lower on snow-covered mountain ranges.
Meteorological Office forecaster Emma Sharples said: ‘Cold air is set to spread across the country overnight into Monday. On Monday night and through Tuesday in Scotland and Northern Ireland we have issued a weather warning of possible hail and snow, with up to four inches possible above 200 metres.
‘In England and Wales, we are looking at a mixture of sunshine and blustery showers with some hail, sleet and snow mixed in, which will continue towards the end of the week. Snow showers are most likely on the hills, mountains and moors but no major accumulations are likely.’
A Met Office spokesperson said:’There could be power cuts and public transport delays come Monday and Tuesday.
‘Mostly in the north, all of Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland will bare the brunt of it.’
In a warning issued by the Met Office, commuters in Scotland and Northern Ireland were told to expect frequent and heavy hail from Monday evening, continuing for much of the day on Tuesday.
Travel delays on roads are also to be expected, with a small chance of cancellations to public transport. There is a small chance that power cuts will occur and other services, such as mobile phone coverage, may be affected.
In addition some roads and pavements may become icy, increasing the chance of injuries from slips and falls.
The Met Office warning read: ‘Snow showers will be heaviest and most frequent across western Scotland. The largest accumulations of snow will be over high ground with over 10 cm building up above 200 metres.
‘At low levels, accumulations of the order 2-5 cm will be more typical. Showers will also be accompanied by hail and lightning at times, particularly across northern and western Scotland.
‘Here, there is potential for disruption to power supplies from frequent lightning strikes. Strong winds are also expected, with the potential for temporary blizzard conditions and drifting of lying snow, particularly over high ground.
Almost the whole of Northern Ireland, and the west of England, including Liverpool, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Bristol and parts of Devon will also be affected by thick fog.
James Madden, a forecaster for Exacta Weather, warned that snow will hit ‘northern and western areas’ next week.
He said: ‘We are currently in the calm before the storm, there are now strong signals for a potent wintry blast to arrive early next week.
‘Westerly winds will clash with colder air to deliver widespread and heavy snow showers across some large swathes of the country.
‘The snow will initially hit many northern and western areas and persist over several days, before impacting many other parts of the country at times during next week.
‘We have to go back a few years to the last time we experienced anything of this potency, this is looking like becoming a notable and lengthy spell of widespread cold and snowy weather.’
Meanwhile, motorists have been advised to allocate more time for their journeys this evening.
A spokesman for the Met Office added: ‘Patchy fog is expected to reform in places this evening and overnight. Slower journey times are possible and there is a chance of delays to flights.’
People feed the ducks and swan by the River Thames in Windsor, Berkshire today on a cold dull afternoon
A woman was spotted pushing a pram on bitterly cold and frosty morning in Aberystwyth, Wales, on Thursday. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for fog, with very low visibility, for much of Wales
People are being urged to enjoy their weekend while they can… as blizzards and gale force winds are set to cause havoc next week