Heavy downpours across western Britain have triggered warnings for power cuts, travel disruption and damage to buildings while rural areas risk being stranded behind rivers of floodwater. The next threat is just hours away with a disruption to Arctic airflow threatening to flood Britain with a torrent of freezing, snow-laden Polar winds.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said: “There is now the possibility of large-scale disruption from this cold blast.
“It will turn colder over the weekend, but the snow event is expected to hit at the start of next week.
“Some of this could include heavy showers, and where there are winds, there will be a risk of blizzards.
“This is a pattern change that could deliver several snow events.”
Weather models reveal the Polar front, the region of cold air separating the Arctic from temperate regions further south, plunging over Britain.
The freezing blast will be driven by a storm-forming low-pressure system churning off the UK’s northeast coast.
Unlike cold snaps driven by high pressure which tend to be dry, the weekend blast will bring a significant risk of snow.
Jim Dale, meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: “This cold spell is going to involve low pressure, which means it will deliver moisture, so there is going to be a risk of snow.
“This will mainly be across Scotland and northern regions, but southwestern Britain is also likely to see wintry showers.
“While the southeast and East Anglia are not currently the favourites for snow, we can’t rule this out.
“Everywhere is going to be affected by the cold weather.”
Northern Scotland will feel the first bite of the chill on Saturday before the cold air spreads throughout the country.
The risk of snow will grow from the start of next week, as temperatures widely fall below freezing.
Mr Dale, author of ‘Weather Or Not?’, said: “We could see lows of -15 in parts of northern Britain, and elsewhere we expect -6C or -7C.
“This is being driven by the Polar front sinking southwards over the UK bringing very cold air with it.
“I also believe it is a balancing effect of the weather, after the mild and wet weather we have had over the past couple of weeks, this is a reversion to something more typical for the middle of winter.”
The Met Office has weather warnings in force today for up to two inches of rain across western Britain.
Heavy downpours in Northern Ireland will be driven by 65mph gales which will sweep eastwards across the rest of the UK through the weekend.
Wet and windy weather will be driven by a strong jet stream which through the weekend will weaken and become twisted to allow the cold to take root.
Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said: “Lows will continue to send us outbreaks of rain, followed by showers, followed by outbreaks of rain.
“At the weekend we pull in colder air from the north on Sunday into Monday, and showers will be falling into colder air.
“Showers will be falling as snow over the higher parts of Scotland and northern England.”
Temperatures in the south will move closer to average through the start of next week while cold grips the north.
Another low-pressure system comes in on Monday threatening another bout of snow in parts, Mr McGivern added.
“Where we are likely to see snow will vary, “he said.
“The greatest risk of snow will be across northern parts, mostly over the hills but you wouldn’t rule out snow to lower levels.”