Met Office tells UK to brace for more snow over Christmas

Met Office in-depth look at this week's colder weather

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‘Occasional’ wintry showers are expected to fall over the festive period, sending hopes of a white Christmas soaring for the first time in a decade. The Met Office has detailed the risks of snow, wintry showers – such a sleet – and rain from December 22, admitting temperatures are not likely to recover until the start of January. But with the big day still more than a fortnight away, no one can be certain as to how much snow could fall – and which areas will be affected. While a winter wonderland would make the perfect festive setting on Christmas Day – for others it may bring disrupt travel plans and place stress on households already struggling to put the heating on. 

The cold Arctic plunge has trickled across Britain this week, with intense frosts and sub-zero temperatures set to follow for much of this week and into next. The mercury could dip as low as -10C in isolated parts of Scotland, or even -15C in the Glens. 

Met Office chief meteorologist, Steve Willington, said: “As an Arctic maritime airmass settles across the UK temperatures will fall with widespread overnight frosts, severe in places, and daytime temperatures only a few degrees above freezing. However, the cold air from the Arctic will also bring brighter conditions, with some dry, sunny spells, particularly away from the coast and where winds are light it could feel pleasant in the sunshine. Some patchy freezing fog is also likely.

“Yellow National Severe Weather Warnings for ice and snow has been issued for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the east coast and South West England. Showers will turn more wintry with an increased risk of snow as the week progresses, particularly in coastal areas or over higher ground.

“There will be widespread frosts with temperatures falling to as low as -10C overnight in isolated spots by the end of the week.”

This week, the only regions which look set to avoid the worst of the snow and frost appears to be the south east, London and parts of central England. But it’s these polar conditions that are not going away anytime soon. 

British Weather Services’ Jim Dale likened the UK from going from a fridge into a freezer – with the country being trapped in this “frigid icy cold air” until at least December 20 – just five days before Christmas.

And now the Met Office has offered some insight as to how the big, festive day may look for people across Britain in its long-range forecast. From December 22 into early January it says: “General themes remain uncertain for the rest of the period.

“Conditions may be widely changeable, with some spells of rain, and at times snow. These expected to be accompanied by strong winds, initially focused in southern parts, but affecting all areas at times.

“Colder and more settled conditions with occasional wintry showers could continue, particularly in the north. Temperatures gradually returning closer to average towards the end of December and start of January.”

As the dramatic weather fronts begin to arrive in the UK, a series of industry experts have shared their advice for people with health conditions and those still planning journeys amid snowy and icy conditions.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, consultant in public health medicine at UKHSA, said: “Cold weather can have serious consequences for health, and older people and those with heart or lung conditions can be particularly at risk.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should heat your home to a temperature that is comfortable for you. In rooms, you mostly use such as the living room or bedroom, try to heat them to at least 18C if you can. Keep your bedroom windows closed at night. Wearing several layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer.”

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With temperatures plummeting this week, many drivers might be taken aback by the cold after an exceptionally mild autumn. Our advice is to be winter ready – check tyres are properly inflated and with good tread, while topping up oil, coolant and screen wash levels if needed.

“Drivers with older batteries in their cars might also wish to give their vehicle a 20 minute drive before colder conditions arrive to ensure the battery can cope with sub-zero temperatures. It’s also worth having a fully-charged mobile phone and carrying a blanket in case of a breakdown to keep warm.”

An amber level 3 severe weather health alert was activated yesterday and will last until Monday at the earliest – but this could change as certainty rises over specific forecasts. The alert says: “Look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold, and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately.

“Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18C, particularly if you are not mobile, have a long-term illness or are 65 or over. Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold-related illness or falls.”

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