Frosty Friday: Temperatures set to plunge to -5C as snow is forecast over the weekend, followed by yet more rain...

Up to 4cm of snow could fall in some areas with the Pennines, the North Yorkshire Moors and north east Scotland, likely to be blanketed in white

December is set to get off to an appropriate start, as the freezing temperatures are set to continue into the weekend, with forecasters predicting some areas could even see a light dusting of snow.

Up to 4cm of snow could fall in some areas with the Pennines, the North Yorkshire Moors and north east Scotland, likely to be blanketed in white by tomorrow morning.

Temperatures are also expected to plummet overnight with some forecasters claiming they could drop as low as -5, bringing widespread frosts and an increased risk of ice.

The Met Office has warned of a "90% probability" of a severe cold snap and icy conditions lasting until midday on Sunday.

"This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services," it said.

Forecaster Stephen Davenport of MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said a front of rain was moving south, bringing wintry conditions with it.

"There's going to be a mixture of rain, sleet, hail and snow showers," he said.

"In the northern parts of the country, over the hills, there will be a 2cm to 3cm covering of snow with up to 4cm in some spots.

"There may be snow showers down the eastern side of the country. The northern areas will certainly see a covering and further south you are likely to see a dusting on the verges."

In contrast to the wet weather that caused havoc at the beginning of the week, many areas will see dry, cold but clear weather tomorrow with any showers likely to be limited to the South East.

The more unsettled weather is likely to return on Sunday, however, with a band of rain coming from the West on Sunday afternoon.

In the light of the cold weather the Met Office has issued a Level 2 Cold Weather Alert, giving advance warning of the adverse conditions.

Professor Virginia Murray, head of extreme events at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), said: "Severe cold can increase the risk of heart attacks, respiratory illnesses and injuries caused by slips, trips and falls. Those particularly at risk include the very old, very young and those with pre-existing medical conditions. The  HPA has worked closely with the Department of Health and Met Office to develop a  Cold Weather Plan which provides information and advice on what preparations both individuals and organisations can make to reduce health risks over winter."

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