Heavy and persistent snow, freezing gales and sub-zero temperatures threaten to grind the country to a standstill for up to FIVE MONTHS, horrified long-range weather forecasters have warned.
The impending bout of extreme weather will come as a shock and forecasters have warned Britons should not to be lulled into a false sense of security by the recent mild conditions.
January is currently showing signs of temperatures hitting “record-breaking” lows meaning parts of the country could see the mercury plunge to -27C (-17F).
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James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather said “significant snowfall” is likely in WEEKS with savage frosts and thick winter fogs threatening widespread misery.
He said: “Over the coming weeks and into November, it is likely to turn progressively colder, even very cold at times, in particular, in parts of the north as northern blocking becomes a somewhat more prominent feature.
“This is likely to bring some significant snow across higher ground within this period.
“This may also bring the first snow event of the season to some much lower levels of the country, in particular, in some parts to the north and east of the country, but these wintry weather events may also not necessarily be restricted to just these parts, and some much lower levels of the country could also experience their first taste of wintry weather for the season in terms of overnight snow or developing wintry showers.
“As the colder weather begins to take more of a stronghold throughout the latter part of October and into November, widespread frosts and dense fog patches will also become a quite prominent feature for many.”
A major Arctic freeze would follow what turned out last year to be the wettest winter since records began in 1910.
Britain was blighted by storms with 12 major events recorded between mid December and early January, according to the Met Office.
The mercury dropped to -7.7C (18F) in Altnaharra, Sutherland, having fallen lower every year for the previous 50 years.
A significant change is on the cards this winter with warnings to prepare for a whiteout on par to those of 2009/10 and 2010/11.
And if temperature records are broken as experts suggest, then thermometers could plunge below the -27.7C (-17F) recorded in Braemar, Scotland, on January 10, 1982.
Experts have warned that many may not be prepared for the a sudden onset of severe cold weather.
Malcolm Booth, chief executive of the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, said: “The peculiar weather patterns that we are seeing may lull people into a flaw sense of security and they won’t protect themselves in terms of day to day life and flu jabs.
“The last set of winter death figures showed an increase which is concerning, if this year is particularly harsh they could be even worse, particularly with the increase in the cost of heating.”
Mr Madden said sudden changes in weather and pressure systems could drag swathes of freezing air from the Arctic across the UK with cold weather likely until next spring.
He said: “This allows cold easterly winds to develop and increases the risk of northern blocking across the UK.
“A number of potentially very cold periods of weather and major snow events are likely to develop throughout this winter across large parts of the country, in particular, throughout the latter part of December and into January.
“The worst case and more plausible scenario could bring something on a similar par to the winter of 2009/10, the coldest in 31 years, or an event close to 2010/11 which experienced the coldest December in 100 years.
“If any month could prove to be very severe or potentially record-breaking in terms of the cold and snow episodes that are likely to develop, then January looks like being the main contributor for this on current indications.
“February and into spring may also not escape an extension of these waves of cold and widespread snow at times.
“However, there are some conflicting signals for December at present, which could introduce some milder and rather unsettled interludes of weather at times to begin with.”
Though forecasters say it is still to early to agree on a definitive outlook for the coming winter they agree Britain could be in for an especially chilly one.
WeatherOnline forecaster Simon Keeling said: “Higher pressure [will build] in the Atlantic west of Ireland in December.
“This brings a colder, northwesterly flow. With low pressure passing eastwards, there will be bands of rain, sleet and snow.
“It is likely that higher pressure is a feature of the weather in the second half of the month, with cold and frosty conditions as well as fog.”
Netweather said: “Northern blocking is still shown to be in place into December, and that equates to forecast temperatures that are close to or slightly below-average across the UK.”
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