An arctic maritime airmass originating over northern Canada will bring a period of cold weather later this week with snow showers, strong winds and widespread overnight frosts.
From midweek the whole of the UK can expect to see a change in the weather as a northwesterly airflow sets in and National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued for snow and wind. As the cold air moves southwards over the relatively warm sea, this will cause snow showers to develop which will affect many northern and western coasts. Eastern coasts also affected at times. Elsewhere, many inland areas are likely to avoid the majority of the snow showers but it will feel cold with strong northwesterly winds. Daytime temperatures are likely to be around 2 to 5 degrees Celsius, but colder where there is snow. Overnight, a frost will develop in most places with some severe frost likely where there is snow on the ground in the north. Temperatures could dip below -10 degrees Celsius away from towns and cities.
This cold airmass will spread southwards across the UK during the course of Wednesday with the heaviest and most frequent snow showers then likely across northern and western Scotland, Northern Ireland and around Irish Sea coasts. There will be coastal gales as well as a risk of hail and thunder in some locations. Other parts of the UK could still see some snow at times, but this is likely to be fairly short lived. The image below shows those areas most likely to see settling snow.
Jenny Rourke one of our Deputy Chief Operational Meteorologists said: “A cold spell of weather will affect the UK from Wednesday onwards. With strong northwesterly winds all areas will feel the cold and there will be snow showers, especially in northern and western areas. With wintry weather anticipated later this week, we’ve issued weather warnings for snow and wind and we advise people to check the latest forecast and weather warnings before they travel.”
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Even a small amount of snowfall has the potential to cause major disruption for motorists. The fact that drivers in some parts of the country will be faced with strong winds, snow showers and icy stretches increases the chances of problems on the road enormously.
“Commuters and those drivers planning longer journeys this week must heed the weather warnings and be prepared for tricky driving conditions and significantly extended journey times.
“A lot of accidents happen when people are in rush – with conditions deteriorating this week, we strongly advise motorists to plan their trips carefully and consider rearranging any non-essential journeys in the parts of the country most likely to be affected by the bad weather.”
At the moment it looks like the cold weather will last into the weekend, though many areas should become dry.
Keep up to date with the weather using our forecast pages and by following us on Twitter and Facebook, as well as using our new mobile app which is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from the Google Play store. Search for "Met Office" in store.
Cold weather in Europe
Eastern Europe has also seen very cold weather over the past week or so, but this is not directly related to the cold weather heading towards the UK later this week. Last week, high pressure over western Europe led to cold air and associated weather systems being funnelled southwards across eastern Europe, bringing below average temperatures and snowy conditions.