TEMPERATURES are set to plummet to below minus five “or lower” this week as a weather front dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ sweeps across the UK.
• Russian weather front to descend on UK.
• Bookmakers give odds of 2/1 on white Christmas in North East.
The Met Office has predicted a severe cold snap bringing freezing fog and snow showers as the front moves in from Russia.
Severe weather warnings were issued by the national forecaster urging people to take care on their way to work this morning with icy conditions expected to make untreated roads and paths hazardous.
News of the big freeze prompted a flurry of speculation over record cold temperatures ahead and increased chances of a white Christmas, prompting bookmakers to reduce odds as they enjoyed their “busiest ever fortnight” for winter betting.
However, Met Office forecaster Mark Wilson warned that widespread blizzards and unprecedented lows were unlikely, with milder, wetter weather possible by Friday.
“Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be a case of most areas staying dry and sunny,” he said.
“However, towards the east coast there is a threat of showers and these increasingly could turn into snow inland as it turns gradually colder.
“There is also risk of freezing fog patches overnight. They will form during the night but clear in the day.
“The main emphasis in the UK is that it’s going to turn colder. By Wednesday temperatures in the towns and cities will be no more than 2C to 4C, but overnight they could be dropping as low as -3C to -5C and potentially colder than that in rural spots.
“We are not expecting widespread snow falls.”
He added: “There’s still some uncertainty when it comes to the end of the week, but by Friday it could be milder, wetter weather.
“I wouldn’t say warmer, [but] perhaps slightly less cold and wetter weather.” Responding to the news of a big freeze this week, bookmakers William Hill cut the odds that the UK will suffer its coldest winter yet from 14/1 to 8/1. It is 30 years since the lowest ever UK temperature was recorded, when the mercury plunged to -27.2C in 1982 in Aberdeenshire.
Hills also reduced the odds on the chances of a white Christmas with Aberdeen seen as the most likely, at 2/1, just ahead of Edinburgh and Glasgow, at 5/2. In London, the odds were reduced from 8/1 to 4/1.
Spokesman for William Hill, Rupert Adams, said: “After a year of weird weather, our customers are banking on further records being broken and we have never had a busier fortnight of white Christmas and big freeze betting.”
Gale-force winds forced Scottish ski resorts to limit access to the slopes, with Glencoe closing altogether, although most runs at The Lecht were open by midday.
Meanwhile, blizzards which swept through the Balkans killed four people.