An Arctic blast will bring snow and 60mph winds to parts of the UK this week with forecasters predicting the coldest December since 2010.
The cold snap will hit the north-west of the country by the middle of the week, sweeping across the UK and reaching the south-east by Thursday, the Met Office says.
Frost, snow and ice will return towards the end of the week after a relatively mild start, with strong winds and gales bringing particularly bitter weather to northern Scotland.
“It’s going to turn much colder again towards the end of the week, and by Thursday into Friday we’ll be seeing some snow, some ice and some very strong and cold northerly winds,” said Steven Keates, a meteorologist at the Met Office.
“So all change from what we’ve got at the moment, with another plunge of cold air coming our way. It will be wet and windy midweek and then colder to end.
“Showers will regularly be turning to snow across the Scottish mountains on Thursday and then by Friday the air will be cold enough to see wintry showers at lower levels in the north and potentially to lower levels in the south as well.
“So anywhere exposed to that very strong northerly wind could well see some snow by Friday.”
The east and west coasts, as well as northern Scotland, will be the worst affected by the cold snap, while clear blue skies and dry weather is predicted for the central spine of the UK.
It is likely to be the coldest December since 2010, according to the Met Office, with temperatures dipping slightly below the average for the month.
“2010 was exceptionally cold in December and, since then, December months have been relatively mild, in fact, 2015 was exceptionally mild, it broke all records for being mild and wet as well,” said Mr Keates.
“We’ll probably stay on the colder side of average for much of the rest of the month, with brief milder interludes like we’ve got at the moment.
“There’s a reasonable chance, if this forecast comes off, that this December will probably be the coldest since 2010.
“It’s not going to be exceptionally cold, but a little bit colder than average, I think it shows how mild a lot of recent Decembers have been since 2010.
“I don’t think there is anything particularly exceptional about this December, but in comparison to the last few, it will be colder.”