Temperatures have dropped across the UK this week as a polar continental airmass has been drawn in from the east under the influence of high pressure over Scandinavia. We are seeing the lowest daytime temperatures in the east, while overnight temperatures have been lowest in the far northwest, due to clearer skies.

Tonight could be one of the coldest nights of the winter so far, but only in northwest Scotland, where under clear skies the temperature could reach as low as minus 10°C. The current lowest temperature of the 2016/17 winter is -11°C which was recorded at Cromdale in Moray, North East Scotland, on 5 December. 

We are starting to see snow showers and many central and eastern parts could see some temporary small accumulations of snow, but the main focus is likely to be where we have issued Yellow National Severe Weather Warnings for tonight: East Sussex and Kent; and high ground between Sheffield and Edinburgh, including the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and the Pennines. In East Sussex and Kent, snow showers could bring local accumulations of 2-3cm; many parts however may see little or no snow. In the more northerly warning area, locations over 200m could see 3-6cm with the potential for up to 10cm in areas over 300m in elevation, with drifting in the strengthening winds. Across lower lying areas, most of the snow will melt during Saturday morning.  

Chief Meteorologist Andy Page said: “Temperatures have fallen across the UK this week, bringing a typical mid-February cold snap and it is likely that we will see some snow, chiefly in central and eastern parts of England and Scotland. Many places in the west will remain dry and we don’t expect a great deal of snow to settle at low levels elsewhere, but in the far south east and across parts of northern England and southeast Scotland, it could accumulate for a while on Friday night and into Saturday.

“The easterly air flow will continue through the weekend and with strengthening winds it will feel very cold. Wind chill will make it feel more like -4°C during the day, so make sure you are prepared if you are heading outdoors.”

Winds will have picked up across the south of the UK by Sunday and this, combined with the cold temperatures, will make it feel very chilly. In the video below meteorologist Aiden McGivern explains why wind chill makes it feel so much colder.

Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director and Director of Health Protection at PHE said:

“With more cold weather across all parts of England now is the time to really think how it could impact you and your family, particularly those who are very young, over 65 or who have heart and lung conditions. Try to keep homes heated to at least 18°C, stock up on any essential medicine or food that you need before the cold arrives and remember that you will be warmer wearing several thin layers instead of fewer thick ones.

“Whenever temperatures drop more people become seriously ill, including from pneumonia, heart attacks and strokes - that’s why it’s so important we all think what we can do for those at risk now.”

As we head through next week the air flow will gradually move towards coming from the south-east and eventually the south, meaning it should start to feel less cold.

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