The first wintry weather of 2013 will sweep into Britain tomorrow night, bringing snow on Saturday in various areas ranging from the north-east coast to the Welsh borders.
After ten days in which temperatures have been remarkably mild for the time of year, sometimes getting into double figures Centigrade rather than the six or seven degrees C which is more like the seasonal average, a northerly airstream will send a deep chill across much of the country.
It will replace the mild air from the south that has been the dominant feature of the weather since the New Year, and where the two airstreams meet there will be a meteorological “battleground”, the Met Office said today, which is likely to produce sleet and snowfall.
The principal region likely to see snow tomorrow centres on eastern Wales and the West Midlands as far north as Shropshire, forecasters said, while the cold air coming off the North Sea is also likely to produce snowfall down the north-east coast, all the way from Aberdeenshire to Lincolnshire. Falls of up to 10cm are possible on higher ground.
Sunday is likely to be much clearer, but it will remain very chilly – “ typical clear, cold crisp winter’s day”, a Met Office spokesman said – and the mercury will continue to drop into early next week, with maximum daytime temperatures falling from about 8/9 degrees tomorrow, to 7/8 degrees C on Sunday and 4/5 degrees on Monday. “It will feel very much colder than it has done recently,” the spokesman said.
At night temperatures will drop much further, and in many places may be in the range of minus two to minus five, with a heavy overnight frost.
The wintry conditions are likely to last well into next week and possibly beyond. Snow showers are especially expected on the eastern side of the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the risk of “significant accumulations” of snow by them, the Met Office said, and although the outlook beyond then is less clear, it is not cheerful: “Generally cold with widespread frost, icy patches and freezing fog in places.”