Weather forecasters have warned of snow on the way for parts of the UK as a blast of Arctic wind sweeps across the country.
A yellow severe weather warning for wind has been issued for large parts of Britain on Thursday, as a cold front in Scotland moves down from the north.
The Met Office said northerly and northwesterly gusts of wind could reach 70 mph and cause disruption to travel, particularly on higher routes in northern England.
Snow showers are quite likely across the north and west of Scotland on Thursday. There will be a risk of further sleet and snow showers across northern and western parts of Scotland on Friday. A few wintry showers are also possible along North Sea coasts.
Nicola Maxey, a spokesperson for the Met Office, said lower-than-average temperatures for December would move across the country towards the end of the week, with some northern areas not getting much above freezing and southern regions significantly colder than usual.
“We’re going to have a cold front moving slowly down through the country through the week, starting tofay,” she said. “It will weaken as it moves down, but behind it will bring some wintry showers.
“With the Arctic wind blowing across from cold maritime air, people will really feel the cold,” Ms Maxey added.
Rain in Northern Ireland and Scotland will move into northern England and Wales tonight. Southern England will remain largely dry and mild but with plenty of cloud around.
There will be outbreaks of rain tomorrow morning over Wales, the Midlands and northern parts of England, which will push southeastwards across the UK, clearing the South Coast early on in the afternoon.
Over the weekend, conditions are expected to become milder if unsettled, with a greater likelihood of rain than ice and snow.
The Met Office’s longer term forecasts predicted a north-south divide for much of December, with unsettled weather in Scotland and northwest England and drier conditions in Wales and the south of England.
Temperatures are not expected to be below average in the coming weeks – though that doesn’t rule out a white Christmas.