The mercury at an unmanned weather station in the north Highlands hamlet of Alt-naharra plummeted early yesterday to minus 23.6C, the London Weather Centre said.
It was thought to be the coldest temperature recorded since 1986.
As severe conditions prompted the Government to offer the use of military support to help storm-battered Shetland cope with the worst blizzards in memory, meteorologists predicted no let-up until the new year.
A London Weather Centre spokesman said there was a 30 per cent chance of snow falling in the South in the next few days, rising to 50 per cent in central England.
Many parts of England and Wales have been hit already by freezing fog and sub-zero temperatures with worse to come.
"Heavy snow and strong east to south-easterly winds will move through central England and Wales over Friday and Saturday. Temperatures will struggle to get above freezing today and tomorrow, and North Wales, the East Midlands and hilly, open areas may experience heavy snowdrifts on Saturday," the spokesman said.
Warmer weather is expected to move in from the South-west, eventually nudging temperatures above freezing by New Year's Day.
Forecast, Section 2, page 33