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Wintry mix of weather this weekend

We have had a very mild start to 2013 but Met Office forecasters are predicting that it will turn colder over the next few days.

Whilst temperatures are set to be much lower than the last week or so, there is a lot of uncertainty about how long the cold weather will stay with us and exactly which areas of the UK will see snow.

The reason for the cold weather is that an area of high pressure develops over Scandinavia, allowing cold air from the Baltic and western Russia to move towards the UK. At the same time milder air and Atlantic weather systems are trying to push in from the west, leaving the UK as the battle ground where they meet.

By the weekend daytime temperatures are likely to be in single figures with overnight lows falling below freezing, giving widespread frost and icy stretches. An area of low pressure on Saturday is expected to push some rain towards the west of the UK and as it hits the cold air it could fall as snow; some significant amounts are possible across hills. Sunday looks much drier and brighter. The east of the country, meanwhile, is likely to see wintry showers drift in on easterly winds and it is here that snow is most likely.

Severe weather warnings for ice and snow have been issued for many parts of the UK over the weekend and people should be aware that there could be some disruption to travel.

Paul Gundersen, Met Office Chief Forecaster, said: "All parts of the UK will see cold weather setting in over the weekend. We can expect sleet and snow showers to affect eastern areas at times, but with a battle developing between the cold air in the east and mild air pushing in from the west, no one should be surprised to see sleet or snow over the weekend and early next week.

Throughout the winter, the Met Office works with the Department of Health and NHS to help keep people well at times of severe weather. Our specially produced health forecasts, such as Healthy Outlook for COPD patients, give professionals and patients the opportunity to take action to help keep them well during cold weather. You can find out more information on our Cold Weather and Health, and Get ready for winter web pages.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Severe cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with chronic disease. You can find advice on how to reduce your risk or that of somebody you know on the NHS Choices website, ringing NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or contacting your local GP or pharmacist.

"The NHS is well prepared for the winter and we are providing an extra £330 million to the NHS and social care services to help cope with the added pressure that the winter brings."

Cold weather is forecast to remain through much of next week with any further snow most likely across eastern parts of the UK and, as ever, the latest UK forecast and Severe weather warnings can be found on the Met Office website, on our mobile apps, and through TV and radio broadcasts on the BBC and ITV.

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