Britain bracing for snowiest winter in 70 years as polar blast grips country
Britain could see its snowiest winter for 70 years thanks to a bitter Arctic blast that will sweep across the country and last for weeks, forecasters have warned.
December is poised to get off to a mild start – with temperatures in the mid-teens in some places this weekend – before they plunge in the lead-up to Christmas.
When that happens, polar conditions threaten to spawn blizzards and ice storms, and heavy snow to parts of the UK from next week through the middle of the month.
The extended cold snap could last through December and into the start of 2019, it is claimed.
The latest long-term forecasts show the heaviest snow slamming into Scotland and parts of northern and central England.
Some places will see their first major snowstorm, as the conditions threaten to cause travel chaos during the festive season.
Forecasters told the Express that Britain could see one of its snowiest winters since 1950 when snow covered parts of Scotland for 102 days.
James Madden, of Exacta Weather, said: “After this brief interlude of milder weather there will be a quick reversal back to cold conditions accompanied by wintry weather and some notable snow showers, particularly, across the north.
“This will pave the way for a number of further snow events during the early to mid part of December, some of these could be severe enough to cause disruption.
“Parts of the country are facing the first major snow event of the season during the start of December and these could be severe in nature, this risk will continue through the first part of the month.
“There will be a risk of potential ice storms with strong winds and snowfall bringing blizzards to exposed regions.”
In the short-term, wet and windy weather will continue to lash parts of the UK on Friday in the wake of Storm Diana, although the gusts won’t be as strong.
The Met Office says the most frequent showers will be in the west and the north.
Central and eastern areas should stay largely dry and sunny, with a risk of rain.
Further rain is expected across central and southern areas on Saturday.
Temperatures will remain mild but it’s likely that they won’t be enjoyable in many places due to the wind and rain.
Diana – a major storm named by Portugal’s weather service – brought warnings for heavy rain and strong gales as it battered the UK on Wednesday and Thursday.
The strongest winds on Thursday were of up to 82mph, measured at Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight, while St Mary’s Airport on the Isles of Scilly saw gales of up to 74mph and Plymouth saw winds of up to 72mph.
At the height of the storm, thousands of homes across the South West, Midlands and Wales were without power and there were delays for road, train, air and ferry transport.
Dozens of flood warnings or alerts were in place across Scotland and England.
Temperatures were mild during the storm, but hardly enjoyable thanks to the wind and rain. On Thursday, the UK’s hotspot was Leeming in North Yorkshire, at 14.8C.
Met Office five-day forecast
Blustery showers will push in from the west today, with the most frequent showers in the west and north.
Central and eastern areas should stay largely dry and sunny with a small chance of a shower.
Windy in the northwest.
Blustery showers will continue in Scotland overnight.
Elsewhere it will be largely dry at first, before rain spreads across many places from the southwest after midnight.
A mix of sunshine and showers in Scotland, otherwise a rather cloudy start with rain across central and southern areas.
Turning drier in the afternoon but remaining largely cloudy.
Sunday to Tuesday
Staying largely unsettled over the next few days with showers or longer spells of rain.
Brighter spells are likely at times, particularly in the north.
Gradually turning colder by Tuesday.
Met Office outlook for December 4-13
The weather service says: "Tuesday and Wednesday look fairly unsettled with rain in the south where generally mild, and brighter, cooler and showery weather affecting the north.
"Gales are possible in places. Some frost is expected in the north, and the Scottish mountains could have some snow.
"The rest of the period is likely to see a more changeable pattern becoming established, with most places seeing some rainfall, but a lower likelihood of the longer spells of fine, dry weather between systems than previously suggested.
"As rainbands move into colder air, there is the increased chance of snow, mainly on northern hills.
"Northerly winds following rain-bearing systems could bring snow showers to northern parts at times.
"Temperatures generally around normal to above average in any windier and wetter spells."
Latest forecast for Christmas season
Giving its outlook for December 14 to 28, the Met Office says: "The first few days of this period are likely to see an east to west split.
"Some wet and possibly windy weather is likely in the west, with the east having generally drier weather with some fog, frost and possibly some snow showers too.
"The second half of December looks most likely to see a return to generally more unsettled weather.
"Spells of rain and strong winds are set to spread across the British Isles from the west, although remaining most active across western and northwestern areas.
"The start of the period may be relatively mild in the west and southwest, but colder towards the east, perhaps becoming milder across all parts for the second half of the month."
Surviving the cold weather
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