Temperatures could drop to between 3-7C in the day by the weekend, in contrast to daily maximums of 3.8C above average in first half of month
It will be time for scarves and gloves this weekend as cold arctic air spreads across Britain, bringing snow showers to high ground in the north.
As the first cold snap of the winter hits, the Met Office issued a weather alert across Yorkshire and Humber, the north-east and north-west. It means there is at least a 60% chance of severe weather, with average temperatures to drop to 2°C or below.
Frank Saunders, chief operational meteorologist, said: “Strong to gale-force, north to north-west winds are expected Friday night into Saturday, with severe gales likely for a time near eastern coasts, giving a marked wind chill.”
Dr Angie Bone of Public Health England reminded people to look out for others, to keep warm indoors and to take care when out. “Cold does kill, even in places where the temperatures aren’t at their lowest,” she said. “Most of our advice on keeping warm in cold weather may seem like common sense, it’s important that we make the point that people should think about how cold can affect them.
“This is also a good time to think about how the bad weather may affect your friends and family, particularly if they are older, or very young, or have pre-existing health conditions. These groups can be particularly vulnerable to the ill-effects of cold so think now what you could do to help – if you, or they, are eligible for a flu vaccination make sure you get it as soon as you can.”
The cold air will spread southwards on Thursday, bringing with it a plunge in temperatures. In contrast to recent days, when temperatures have been well above average for the time of year, the mercury is expected to drop to below average, to about 3-7C during the day.
Minimum temperatures away from coasts are likely to drop below freezing overnight, bringing widespread frost and the risk of some icy patches where showers have fallen during the day.
By Saturday the cold air will be in place across all parts of the UK, with a mixture of sunny spells and wintry showers likely, and any settling will probably be only temporary because the ground remains warm after the recent mild spell.
However, many places inland will avoid showers and experience sunny spells. Although this will be the first widespread cold spell of the season, it is fairly typical for mid- to late November, the Met says, when it is not unusual to see snow over high ground and to lower levels in the north of the UK in late autumn.
Temperature data for central England shows the start to the month has been the second warmest since this record began in 1772. Local temperature records have been broken at various locations with only November 1938 seeing a warmer start to the month.
Parts of northern England, particularly Cumbria, were hit by heavy rain earlier this week, although the weather caused less disruption than anticipated as the amount of rainfall was at the lower end of forecasts. There was localised flooding and, during the worst of the rains, dozens of roads were closed across Cumbria as surface water made driving hazardous. Britain was also hit by two storms in recent days, first Abigail, then Barney, which left thousands of homes without power.
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