FREEZING winds are expected to sweep across the UK over the next few days as an unusually cold snap takes hold, with northern Scotland to be among the worst hit areas.
Strong gusts of up to 50mph could mean that temperatures already hovering around freezing point may feel more like -10 degrees in some areas.
While Scotland will escape the worst of the wind, it will be just as cold at night in rural parts of the Highlands where the mercury will also plummet to around -10.
Forecasters said yesterday it was likely to be much colder than normal for this time of year as they warned of a 90 per cent chance of severe cold weather and icy conditions for the rest of the week.
The Met Office urged people across the UK to check on vulnerable neighbours as they issued the latest cold weather alert for parts of England advising health authorities to prepare for winter-related issues.
However sunshine is expected to raise temperatures during the daytime across Scotland bringing some bright but chilly conditions.
Billie Payne, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said yesterday: “It’s certainly going to feel much colder over the weekend.
“Temperatures are expected to stay just above freezing point throughout the day, but with the wind chill factor it could feel more like than -5 degrees, or even -10 degrees where the winds are strongest.
“They could hit around 50mph in Cornwall, while the rest of Britain will see gusts of around 30mph and higher in exposed areas.
“These temperatures are very cold for this time of year. We expect cold weather in February but it is impressively cold really.”
Forecasters predict an increasing risk of snow flurries coming in from the east tomorrow and spreading across the west towards Wales leaving a dusting of snow behind.
The Met Office said the weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.
Met Office forecaster Emma Chivers said: clear skies over the Highlands over the next few days will see temperatures fall to as low as -10C.
She said: “At that kind of temperature people should be aware of making sure that they check to see if elderly neighbours are ok.
“Towns and cities will not be so chilly at night, with minus four in Glasgow, minus 1 in Aberdeen and minus 2 in Edinburgh.
“And during the daytime Scotland will be very sunny and it will be quite pleasant with temperatures rising from 3 or 4 degrees C on Friday to five or six on Saturday.
“It will not be very windy in Scotland, which is closer to the area of high pressure that is bringing this drier weather and is not associated with high winds.”
Looking ahead to next week she said it was likely to become warmer but also possibly wetter.
Cold weather alerts are issued by the Met Office south of the Border if temperatures are set to remain below 2 degrees C for 48 hours or more, and/or if heavy snow or widespread ice is expected. The system has not been introduced in Scotland.
Three day forecast:
Friday: Dry with one or two snow flurries but not much settling. Mostly sunny, especially in the northwest. Temperatures around three or four degrees C during the day, falling as low as minus ten C at night in rural places in the Highlands. Light winds.
Saturday: Still dry and bright with temperatures reaching about six degrees C during the day before plummeting back down as far as minus ten C at night in rural parts. Winds staying light.
Sunday: A few more light scattered snow showers possible as temperatures continue to rise. Warmer, wetter weather expected next week.