The 10 worst British winters ever

Just how bad would things have to get for 2013 to be included among the very worst winters in our history?

Britain is set to see the first low-level snow of the year this week as bitter arctic winds bring plummeting temperatures accompanied by rain, sleet and snow.

Homes in northern Scotland will be the first battered by freezing temperatures as mercury plummets below the seasonal average, forecasters have warned. The icy weather is set to move south into

The arrival of winter heralds the usual dire predictions of what the coming months might hold weather-wise.

Some of the predictions are even suggesting that this winter could be among the worst that Britain has ever seen.

'The worst winter in decades set to hit Britain within days', declared one Sunday paper yesterday - above the subhead: 'Panicked Brits are stocking up ready for next week's predicted super-freeze.'

Click here or on the above gallery to see our countdown of Britain's worst winters.

Meanwhile that bastion of conservative forecasting, the Met Office, has sought to play down concerns regarding an impending 'Snowmaggeddon', explaining calmly that a bit of snow at the end of November into December is not unusual.

Yes, temperatures may be slightly lower than the seasonal average, but there's no indication that Britain is facing a particularly shivery winter ahead.

All this raises the question of quite how bad things would have to get for Britain to really experience one of its worst winters ever. The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is extremely bad.

In recent years Britain has seen its fair share of snow, but nothing to really compare with the awful winters of the past.

Perhaps the last example of a really landmark awful winter was the December of 1978 and early months of 1979.

Memorable as the winter of discontent for political reasons it was also the coldest winter since the famous 'big freeze' of 1962-63.

The run up to 1978 had, rather like this year, been mild and dry in November - up until around the 24th of the month.

It was then that a cold north westerly weather pattern hit the UK, as the low pressure front progressed north the winds changed bringing a cold wind that brought with it snow showers and blizzards. As 1979 began the country was engulfed by blizzards and deep snow.

Despite its massive impact on the UK the weather system of 1978-1979 still only wins a mid-table 6th place in our worst winters of all time list. If you want to see the rest click on the gallery above.

Be warned though - you might want to put the kettle on first and stick your mittens on the radiator...

Click here or on the above gallery to see our countdown of Britain's worst winters.