“Thundersnow” and blizzards could blight parts of the UK as an arctic cold spell blowing in from the north looks set to cause temperatures to tumble.
Yellow warnings for wind and snow have been issued by the Met Office, with snow showers expected to bring 2-5 cm of snow at lower levels and 10-20 cm on ground above 200m to 300m.
Affecting Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of the North West from Wednesday, the warning expands to include Wales and Eastern England by Thursday and into Friday.
With the cold air originating over arctic Canada, Met Office meteorologist Emma Sharples warned that with the high winds and snow “we could get some blizzard type conditions, especially at height”.
Quizzed on the possibility of “thundersnow”, where the rain associated with a thunderstorm falls as snow, she added: “It is possible, all that really needs is for thunder to happen at the same time as the snow.
“So where you get very active or vigorous showers - which is what we are going to see... then we could well get some thunder as well. It is definitely possible.”
Ms Sharples said that because the snow at lower levels will come in the form of “showers”, unless there is “shower after shower coming over the same location”, it is unlikely to build up to too much.
But she warned: “Even a centimetre of snow in this country can obviously cause some disruption”, adding that there could also be “some showers in land, but they are likely to be short-lived”.
The freezing Arctic blast will first hit Scotland and the North on Wednesday before gradually moving all the way down to the south. Weather will become increasingly unsettled on Tuesday.
The Met Office have said that “lightning may accompany the heaviest showers, with potential disruption to power supplies as a consequence”.
And on Wednesday and Thursday, “wind gusts of up to 55mph are expected in exposed coastal areas and on hills”.
Overnight frosts are also set to develop in most places, with “severe frost likely where there is snow on the ground in the north”.
In terms of temperatures, Ms Sharples said: “We are looking at low single figures, 2C to 5C by day, and then overnight it will vary across the country.
“But where there is snow lying it could be heading towards double minus figures, -8 or -10C especially in towns and cities, and probably in the north of England and Scotland.”