New maps show UK blanketed in snow for days just before Christmas

UK weather: Met Office forecasts chilly temperatures and snow

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A meteorologist has predicted much of the UK will be locked in a sub-zero weather zone until just five days before Christmas. The country at the moment is preparing for temperatures to tumble into the minuses later this week, with some snow expected to fall in Scotland as early as tomorrow. The Met Office has today issued warnings for ice covering nearly all of the eastern English coast for the next two days. Jim Dale, a global weather expert from British Weather Services said the mercury will not recover so quickly – and that people should “be prepared, plan early and keep your ears to the music.”

Speaking to Mr Dale said: “The polar front is sliding south, it’s semi polar air but it will start the real cold blast from Northern Norway moving to eastern Scotland starting this afternoon. This is not British weather, this is Arctic-like weather and this will unfold in the next two to three days – but it is definitely coming.

“The main impact, the catalyst, is going to be the temperatures that will sink all over the place. We will have a few cold places but it’s going to be big, it will start in the north tomorrow morning but it will depend on the cloud cover.”

He said despite his advice for people to prepare he expects snow and ice to cause issues on the roads. He added: “A lot of it is going to be cars breaking down and people slipping on ice. Scotland will be an easy -10C and -15C in the Grampians. Welsh valleys will see -9C to -10C and the Thames Valleys and the Chilterns will be around -8C to -9C.”

Even in the south, London and surrounding regions could hit as low as -4C over the coming days and into next week. “That’s the story, and there will be no relief until December 20,” he added.

“There will still be sporadic showers here and there – but to be honest with you that’s a meteorologist’s nightmare as you cannot calculate every one of them. But as we push onto next week there might be a bit more snow around. We are in the kind of waiting game to see whether we end up with widespread snow.”

Looking ahead into the run-up to Christmas, Mr Dale said there is a chance of wintry showers but that this merely hangs in the balance at the moment because weather systems could change between now and then.

He added: “Just pre-Christmas we have to watch out for the Atlantic south-west train – that there is your change in airstream trying to get in. If it plays out then many places will be carpeted with snow on Christmas. But there is only a threat of it – this is not unusual.”

The Met Office is yet to issue a Christmas Day forecast, and is not likely to do so until much closer to the occasion. However, its longer range forecast sheds some light on how the UK’s weather picture may play out in the coming weeks. 

Published this afternoon, its outlook from this Sunday until December 20 says: “Cold weather is expected to continue through at least Sunday and into the beginning of next week, particularly in the north. Wintry showers will mainly affect coastal regions, with snow most likely over higher ground but perhaps falling to lower levels at times.

“By contrast, inland areas should see more in the way of fine and dry weather, with widespread frosts locally severe at times. While timing is uncertain for now, areas of cloud, rain and stronger winds are increasingly likely to progress into southwestern areas at times, with potential for significant snowfall along the leading edge of such systems. Temperatures remaining cold to very cold, with a chance of returning closer to normal across the south later into the period.”

In line with Mr Dale’s predictions, from December 21, the Met Office says conditions may start to return to normal. Looking ahead up until January 4 it adds: “The second half of December remains uncertain, but there are hints of a return to nearer normal temperatures.

“This would be associated with spells of more unsettled weather, especially for the south, and a reducing risk of wintry hazards overall, although periods of severe weather are still possible. Northern areas are likely to hold onto the colder conditions for longest.”

‘More severe weather warnings may be needed’

In terms of the imminent forecast for this week, the Met Office has said people need to keep an eye on the changes taking place. It has already issued a number of weather warnings urging people to plan ahead, expect delays and take extra precautions.

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, Rebekah Sherwin, said: “As the cold air pushes across the UK from the north temperatures will dip, with daytime temperatures struggling to get above freezing in many places from mid-week onwards. However, the cold air from the Arctic will also bring brighter conditions, with some dry, sunny spells, particularly away from the coast.

“Showers will turn more wintry as the week goes on with a risk of snow at times. Yellow National Severe Weather Warnings for ice and snow have been issued for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the east coast of the UK for Wednesday and Thursday.

“We can expect to see further snow and wintry showers as the week progresses, particularly in coastal areas or over higher ground. There will be widespread frosts with temperatures falling to as low as -10°C overnight in isolated spots by the end of the week. More severe weather warnings could be needed as we head through the week.”

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