In a stark warning, the Met Office has cautioned the UK populace to prepare for the onslaught of a cold Arctic air mass bringing with it sleet, rain, and heavy snowfall, potentially leading to widespread travel disruptions.
Forecasters predict up to 25cm of snowfall in regions above 400 metres, with lower-lying areas likely to see accumulations of 5cm to 2cm. The plummeting temperatures, expected to dip below seasonal averages on Wednesday, will blanket the country in dry, frigid Arctic air, heightening the risk of overnight ice formation.
Yellow weather warnings have been updated, covering Northern Ireland, northern England, parts of the east Midlands, and north and central Wales from Thursday 6am until Friday 6am. Additionally, a separate warning for snow and ice has been issued for northern and western Scotland from Tuesday 3pm to Wednesday noon, with the northwest Highlands bracing for up to 8cm of snow.
This weather shift follows an unusually mild period, fostering the growth of snowdrops and daffodils across the country. The impending snowfall contrasts starkly with the stormy weather experienced throughout autumn and winter, marked by a record-breaking 10 named storms by January.
The clash between air masses will persist through the week, with a convergence zone bringing rain, sleet, and snow, particularly in regions where cold and mild air masses intersect. Concerns over potential power outages, disrupted mobile phone coverage, travel woes, and isolated rural communities have been raised.
While the snow is expected to taper off later on Thursday, uncertainty remains regarding the rain/snow boundary and the northern extent of snowfall. Deputy Chief Meteorologist Chris Almond highlighted the increasing risk of wintry hazards, especially as milder air attempts to encroach from the south, heightening the potential impact in northern England and Wales.
As the nation braces for the wintry onslaught, the UK Health Security Agency has issued a yellow cold weather alert for parts of England, emphasizing the heightened risk to elderly and vulnerable individuals. Amy Shaw, National Network Manager at National Highways, advised proactive measures, urging travellers to plan journeys meticulously, stay abreast of weather forecasts, and exercise caution on the roads amidst challenging conditions.
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