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Plunging Arctic blast to burden UK with ‘universal ice risk’ this week

Met Office forecasts rain and hail snow for south of England

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Snow, ice and bitterly cold winds will sweep in and cover the country over the next three days, forecasters warn. An Arctic blast from Scandinavia has been blamed for the first sub-zero spell of 2023, with the first sprinkling of wintry showers dominating northern regions, parts of Wales, and the Midlands today. But, more of the same is on the horizon this week, an independent meteorologist has said. While snow and sleet showers will be “sporadic”, Jim Dale, from British Weather Services says ice will be the “universal hazard” to watch out for. 

In his rundown for the week, Mr Dale told “The main snow today is in northern Scotland but also some northern parts of England – especially in North Yorkshire and parts of north east England.

“It is likely to stay similar but more engrained and widespread ice tonight and onwards to Friday. Sporadic snow showers are also predicted for parts of Wales, north Wales and south west England in the next 72 hours, though nothing over the top.”

The plunging mercury has become a cause for concern across the board with the Met Office and UK Health Security Agency issuing a Level 3 amber severe cold weather alert, urging action to protect those vulnerable to temperature-related illnesses.

The alert, which is one away from a national emergency, was upgraded from Level 2 today, with both bodies telling people to ensure their home is adequately heated to 18C during this latest chilly snap. 

It is in place until the end of the week and will only be changed if experts can foresee an improvement weather-wise. As part of its outlook for the week, the alert admits that temperatures will struggle to recover in the daytime, which is inevitably when icy paths and roads will be most hazardous to pedestrians and drivers alike.

The alert says: “These conditions persisting through the week across most areas, bringing widespread frost and with daytime temperatures struggling to recover above freezing. Brisk winds, along with spells of wintry showers are also possible, with icy conditions potentially developing.”

Speaking to, Mr Dale’s primary fear was of the ice, as weather maps show thermometers will struggle to get above freezing before midday tomorrow. He added: “Sporadic snow showers will be here or there with Northern Scotland retaining the lion’s share. Ice being the more universal hazard.”

Jo Farrow, a senior forecaster at NetWeather echoed the sentiment regarding ice, admitting that if snow hadn’t hit certain areas by this morning, it would likely not fall at all. 

She said: “Other parts of the UK are less likely to see snowfall but as the cold air deepens, or by night, any rain could turn to sleet or wet snow, and even settle over the hills further south.

“If this happens say for SE England during the Monday morning rush, or early on Tuesday for southern Britain, there will be impacts on the roads with an icy slush on the pavements. To some, this will be seen as just usual wintry weather but this upcoming cold spell brings the likelihood of more slips and falls, which in turn has impacts to health services.”

While cold and frosty conditions are expected until Friday, the Met Office is predicting a return to unsettled conditions again this weekend and into next week. 

In its long-range forecast for January 21 to 30, updated this afternoon, it said: “Over the weekend, a northwest-southeast split is likely to bring cloud and outbreaks of rain across western parts, while the southeast remains dry and bright with light winds.”

But, there are no guarantees of temperatures improving nationwide, with predictions still alluding to “wintry conditions” in the north west.

It adds: “The strongest winds are likely to be felt across the northwest, where wintry conditions are possible.

“Temperatures near normal in the northwest, but rather cold or cold in the southeast. Into the end of January, changeable conditions are likely to persist with the most unsettled conditions in the north and west with a combination of strong winds and rain or showers at times.

“Meanwhile, southern and eastern parts are expected to remain drier and more settled, although occasional rain is possible. Temperatures expected to be around average in the north and west, perhaps slightly below average in the south and east.”

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