Sub-zero air sweeping in from the Polar regions will send temperatures plummeting to -10C (14F) this month with snow threatening to blanket the nation until February. This winter could see a raft of 100-year cold and snowfall records tumble, according to some long-range predictions. Further wintry downpours are forecast later this month and through December as experts warn severe weather could hold out well into 2020.
Swathes of Britain are at risk of heavy snow with Scotland, Wales and northern England braced for crippling blizzards.
Freezing Arctic winds pushing thermometers well below-average could put the all-time low of -27.2C (-16.96F) measured in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, in 1895 and 1982 under threat.
Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden said: “It is now becoming more plausible that we could experience some type of 100-year cold or snow records being breached this winter, particularly from mid-December.
“This would be another severe winter record to go after several in the past 10 years, and as such indicates Britain’s winters are becoming colder and more prone to significant snow events.
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“It is likely this pattern is intrinsically linked to low solar activity and its impact on long-term weather patters, the oceans and the jet stream.
“It is inevitable we will suffer more extremely harsh winters in the coming years and decades with further records being broken, this will become the norm in the UK and across parts of Europe.”
Britain is already feeling the bite of winter with temperatures hovering below average for the time of year.
Heavy snow ground parts of the country to a halt during the middle of this month with more forecast in the run up to Christmas and into next year.
Wintery downpours are expected to be common place through the next three months with extreme cold forecast to hold out into January.
It is likely this pattern is intrinsically linked to low solar activity and its impact on long-term weather patters
Mr Madden said: “After a cold spell of weather to start December and widespread frosts across the country, we may well see a number of milder Interspersions of weather in the run up to the festive period.
“However, it is likely to become predominantly colder during the second half of the month at a time when there is likely to be an influx of weather fronts coming into the country.
“This is likely to trigger blizzard conditions particularly across parts of northern England, Scotland and parts of Wales during the final part of December.
“Even southern England is going to turn progressively colder during this period with notable periods of snow across high ground and to lower levels.
“This will allow for an exceptionally cold January with snow as an ample feature for many parts of the country to start the new year.”
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Weathertrending meteorologist John Hammond warned a relatively mild start to December may be a brief interlude before a much colder end to the year.
Westerly winds, which tend to bring higher temperatures, are less likely to dominate giving way instead to colder easterlies, he added.
A ‘retrogression’ of atmospheric waves will allow low pressure to slip away to the Atlantic opening the gates to colder northeasterly winds, he explained.
He said: “Across the northern hemisphere, atmospheric waves in the jet stream tend to ripple their way eastwards, bringing periodic changes in our weather.
“However, when the waves are as large and distorted as they currently are, they are slower-moving.
“This ‘retrogression’ means that, with time, our resident low pressure area may begin to retreat into the Atlantic.
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“If the ‘retrogression’ continues, we may eventually be back into north-easterlies.
“And there is some extremely cold air building across northwest Russia.
“So after a milder interlude, I expect things to be chilling off again by the change in the month.”
Britain is about get a respite from the recent cold weather with forecasts for slightly milder conditions through this week.
However it will turn more unsettled as bands of rain arrive from the Atlantic driven by low pressure over Britain.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “There are signs of the weather turning more unsettled by the end of the week.”
UK snow forecast
The Met Office’s long-range outlook predicts further unsettled conditions will unleash rain and strong wind through next week.
It states: “Unsettled weather is likely as weather systems move east or northeast across the UK, bringing bands of rain across much of the country, interspersed by brighter, showery interludes.
“The bulk of the rain, which could be heavy at times, seems likely across western and southern areas.
“Snow is likely on northern hills at times, more especially later in the period.
“It will often be windy, with gales in places.”
If long-range predictions come to pass, Britain could be facing similar conditions to the savage winters of 1927/8, 1939/40 and 1946/47.