After a brief respite from the freezing start to the new year in Britain, winter is set to return with a vengeance.
Up to eight inches of snow is predicted to fall through today and tomorrow across northern England and Scotland, along with ‘significant travel disruption’ and freezing rain, which turns to ice on hitting the ground.
Widespread snowfall of up to 4in (2cm) is forecast in areas at least 200m (650ft) above sea level, and up to 2in (5cm) at lower levels. In some areas, particularly on high ground, there is a chance up to 8in (20cm) could fall.
As an amber warning was issued in parts of Scotland, Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said today: ‘There is cold air from the north pushing down the east side of the UK and warm air moving in from the west. Where these two air masses meet a weather front is bringing some heavy rain which is turning to snow in places.’
Snow on the ground on a rural road at Allendale in Northumberland this morning with blizzards forecast later today
Snow on the ground at Allendale in Northumberland this morning with heavy snow forecast later today
A glorious sunrise set against the backdrop of snow on the ground at Allendale in Northumberland this morning
Icy roads at Allendale in Northumberland early this morning with more heavy snow forecast for later today
Snowfall on fields at Allendale in Northumberland this morning as motorists are warned to take care on the icy roads
A car parked on the roadside at Allendale in Northumberland this morning as heavy snow is forecast later today
The scene at 7am at Allendale in Northumberland at dawn this morning with the area under a Met Office weather warning
Lights in the distance as snow covers fields next to an icy road at Allendale in Northumberland early this morning
The last time such severe snowfall happened, during the Beast from the East in March 2018, enormous drifts left some Pennine villages completely isolated and needing supplies to be dropped by RAF Chinook helicopters.
The Met Office, which has issued a yellow warning from 8am today until 9pm tomorrow, said the latest snowfall will again bring a risk of motorists becoming stranded and rural communities being cut off.
Forecasters have also warned of possible power cuts and disruption to mobile phone services. The warning covers as far south as the Peak District and including most of the North East, North West and Yorkshire.
A more serious amber weather warning is also in place for eastern Scotland from 3pm today until 10am tomorrow.
It comes as the South experienced much milder conditions. The North-South divide, which saw temperatures of 11.1C (52F) in Exeter yesterday but only 3C (37F) in parts of the North, is due to continue over the coming days.
Heavy rain hits southern England this morning, with this woman sheltering under an umbrella on Wimbledon High Street
Flooded fields at Mepal in Cambridgeshire this morning after the River Delph burst its banks with more heavy rain forecast
A man scrapes the ice from the windscreen of a car in Newcastle-upon-Tyne this morning after a frosty night
Frozen car windscreens in Newcastle city centre this morning as the region experiences sub-zero temperatures overnight
Leeds wakes up to a frosty morning after temperatures plunge to -1C overnight in the West Yorkshire city
Car windows are frozen over in Newcastle city centre early this morning with snow on the way for the North East today
Frozen cars on Benfield Road in Newcastle this morning as parts of Britain are hit by sub-zero conditions overnight
Leeds wakes up to a frosty morning after temperatures plunged below freezing overnight in West Yorkshire
Frosty car windscreens on Rothbury Terrace in Newcastle this morning following a night that saw temperatures below zero
The snow is predicted when a weather front moves north-east, falling as rain in Wales, southern England and the Midlands, where the mild conditions linger, but turning wintry as it hits cold air over the Pennines.
In its warning, the Met Office said: ‘An area of rain pushing north-eastwards is likely to turn to snow as it encounters colder air. Heavy snow may cause significant travel disruption.’
The Met Office added that rain falling on freezing surfaces after a widespread frost may also produce a risk of ice. In the wake of the heavy snow and rain, the end of the week is set to be mostly cloudy with some patchy rain.
Temperatures are likely to remain in the low single figures in northern areas – between 4C (39F) and 7C (45F) – and slightly warmer in Wales, the Midlands and South, where 7C (45F) to 9C (48F) is forecast.
Up to eight inches of snow is predicted to fall through today and tomorrow across northern England and Scotland
The Met Office has imposed a weather warning for the North and Scotland (left) which will see heavy snow tonight (right)
A wet morning in Cheltenham today as much of southern and western England is hit by heavy rain
A workman on the streets of Cheltenham this morning as the Gloucestershire town sees heavy rainfall
Two people go for a walk at sunrise over the River Almond in Kirkliston, West Lothian, this morning
Dog walkers on Blyth beach in Northumberland look at the beautiful sunrise this morning
A cold and frosty morning in Leeds today with the city under a Met Office weather warning for snow later on
A frosty start at Lemonroyd Marina in Leeds this morning after temperatures plunge below freezing in the city overnight
The sun begins to rise behind the beach huts at Blyth in Northumberland this morning
People stop to look at the red sky at sunrise this morning looking out to sea at Tynemouth Pier in North Tyneside
The weather is likely to remain unsettled for the next fortnight, with ‘spells of rain accompanied by strong winds at times’.
Forecasters say the wettest and windiest conditions are expected in the South and West, with the best of any dry weather expected in the North and East.
Snow remains possible ‘at times’ in northern areas, especially on high ground, and temperatures are likely to remain ‘below normal’ for the time of year, in the low single figures Celsius.
Although the Met Office has said global atmospheric patterns mean an event similar to the Beast from the East may occur again this year, there are no predictions of further significant snowfall in the coming weeks.