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Now for the Spring Swing: Britain goes from mild Mediterranean weather to ice, snow and plummeting temperatures

Britain braced for icy blast as balmy spring weather comes to an abrupt end

Encouraged by the balmy weather of the past week, which has seen temperatures in some areas hitting a high of 17.5C (64F), you may have been prompted to put away the winter coat and prepare for Spring, but beware say forecasters - Britain is set to blasted with a bitter arctic cold snap.

The spring sunshine may have been nice while it lasted but now the country has been told to prepare for snow and icy winds.

Forecasters have warned that a band of rain, sleet and snow is sweeping southwards, with strong, freezing winds making the temperatures feel even colder than they are.

The Met Office has said that the fierce cold snap will sweep in from northern Europe on Sunday, and could bring up to eight inches of snow on very high ground.

Lower areas could see two to four inches of snow settle with freezing overnight temperatures which could lead to widespread frosts and icy roads.

While not record-breaking lows for March, temperatures are below average, with no sign of a respite in the near future, according to Tony Conlan of MeteoGroup: "Saturday is going to be a transition day," he said.

"Rain and sleet will affect many areas, turning into snow on northern hills."

It will be a mixed day for different parts of the UK however, with temperatures across most regions being between 3C and 6C, but getting to as high as 15C in parts of south west England, with Torquay likely to be the warmest place.

Over the weekend, wind speeds will increase, going up to as high as 30mph in Devon.

Mr Conlan said: "There will be snow showers on Saturday night, particularly over north-east England and east Scotland. What people will notice then is the strength of the cold, north-easterly wind, which is going to really pick up.

"It will be bitterly cold in the wind and temperatures will mostly stay below zero as we head into Sunday.

"Sunday will be a day of sunshine and a scattering of snow showers. Much of the UK will see snow, but Scotland and the North East will again see the most snow."

He said that while the weekend would see snow showers for many places, the coldest weather was going to arrive early next week. On Monday, temperatures are unlikely to be above zero anywhere in the country.

"There are no signs of spring anywhere on the horizon," added Mr Conlan.