UK weather: Warmer weather to make way for icy cold snap later this week

Officials are warning the public to take care in icy conditions

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The current spell of relatively warm weather across the UK will abruptly end later this week, when icy weather and snow will sweep across the country.

Today, most areas of the UK awoke to sunny skies, particularly the south and the south-east, with mild showers affecting northern and north-western areas.

Londoners enjoyed the warmest weather, with the mercury hitting 11C, while north England saw above average temperatures between 7 to 8C, and 5 to 7C in Scotland, Met Office spokesman Dan Williams told The Independent.

But by Wednesday, the weather will turn become much harsher.

Within the next 48 hours, average temperatures are expected to drop to 2C or below with a chance of snow or ice, according to the Met Office.

Yorkshire and Humber, the North East, the North West, West Midlands, the East Midlands and the East of England will be hit most heavily, with health officials warning the public to take care while navigating potentially treacherous roads and pavements.

The Met Office has issued a yellow "be aware" warning for the north of England, and called the public to be wary of possible travel disruption.

On Wednesday and Thursday, northern and eastern England and the Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be hit with wintry showers.

Over 10 cm of snow is expected to accumulate on high ground in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and as much as 5 to 10 cm of snow could settle at lower levels of northern England, and 3 to 6 cm on higher ground.

The Met Office explained on its website that the cold weather is caused by the jet stream moving south of the UK from Wednesday onwards, while chilly air from the Arctic will work its way southwards.

Dr Angie Bone, head of extreme events team at Public Health England, said: "Although many parts of the country have already seen colder weather this winter, it does look like we're in for a further spell with bitter winds and snow showers likely to make it feel particularly cold.

"In this sort of weather we know that older people and people in poor health tend to stay indoors.

"While this is sensible, it's worth remembering these people may need help getting to a hospital or GP appointment, with shopping or prescription fetching, or just someone to talk to.

"If you know someone in this situation, and most of us do, think about what you can you do to help out.

A wild horse makes its way across snow covered fields on Divis mountain in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Getty Images)

She added that working age adults are at more risk than the elderly.

"Contrary to popular belief, it's actually working age adults who have most slips and trips outside in cold and icy weather, not older people, which is why it's important to wear shoes with a good, slip-resistant grip to prevent any accidental falls.

"Although most of our advice on keeping warm and well in cold weather may seem like common sense, it's important to remember that cold kills, even in places where the temperatures aren't at their lowest," she said.

Chief Met Office meteorologist Eddy Carroll said: "A cold front is expected to cross the UK during Wednesday, introducing much colder conditions to central and northern England in particular.

"Very strong winds will accentuate the cold. Snow showers are likely in most areas, but especially the north west where significant accumulations are likely to build up, especially in hilly areas."