A vicious storm set to clip the southwest coast at the start of next week will bring torrential downpours and winds close to 100kmph. Temperatures are forecast to widely plunge as low as -6C (21.2F) over the coming nights as freezing gales pour in from the north and the east. A huge area of high pressure stretching more than 2,000 miles from southern Britain to Scandinavia will steer sub-zero Polar air into the country, experts warn.
Daytime temperatures will struggle to rise much above single figures in the run up to the weekend with highs of just 8C (46.4F) or 9C (48.2F) likely across southern regions as western coasts nudge 12C (53.6F).
Freezing conditions will hold out until the middle of next week when there are signs of the weather turning milder.
Met Office meteorologist Luke Miall said: “For the rest of the week and the weekend it is going to be pretty cold for the time of year, more notably by night when there will be a risk of widespread frosts which could occur even further south.
“There is high pressure over Scandinavia, and with this being to the northeast of the UK, air will be coming in from an easterly direction from the Baltic region.
“The eastern coasts are really going to struggle with temperatures which will be much lower than in the west, nothing like the 21C we had at the end of February.”
UK weather forecast: Snow could fall in Britain as temperatures drop
Britons desperate for the sun will notice the start change from this time last year when the nation was was baking in some of the warmest April temperatures on record.
Thermometers had rocketed into the mid 20Cs by the last week of the month with almost 14 hours of hot sunshine recorded in West Malling, Kent, according to Met Office records.
Even overnight the mercury failed to dip below 15.9C (60.62F) at Kenley, in Greater London, while 29.1C (84.38F) recorded in the capital’s St James’s Park make it the warmest April day since 1949.
Temperatures over the next few days will hover around 20C lower that last year as Britain wraps up for a chilly blast more usual for the end of winter.
“The air is coming from a completely different origin compared to last year,” Mr Miall said.
“It is coming in from the northeast whereas during the very warm weather last April it was from more of a southerly direction.
“Polar maritime air is being drawn in from north of the UK where it is still quite cold and this is why we are seeing the much lower temperatures.
UK weather forecast: Snow could fall in parts of Scotland this week
“We are expecting to see showers developing over the weekend in the southeast and these could fall as hail along the coasts giving a bringing a slightly wintry flavour.”
Bitterly cold conditions are expected to hold out through the next few days and over the weekend before the weather dishes up another dose of misery.
A monster low-pressure system hurtling across the Atlantic will smash into the southwest coast later on Sunday and through Monday.
Heavy rain and strong winds associated with the system will plague southern and western parts of the country through the day.
Weather charts show the churning vortex whipping up gusts of 100kmph although gusts are expected to be lighter as they reach the UK.
UK weather forecast: Temperatures are set to drop across the UK
Mr Miall said: “Beyond the weekend and into early next week we have got high pressure to the northeast and low pressure trying to push into the west.
“This is going to increase the pressure gradient and lead to strengthening of the winds.
“From Sunday into Monday it will be windy and it will feel cold in these winds.”
Eric Leister, meteorologist for AccuWeather, warned the weather across northern Europe over the coming days will be more akin to winter than spring.
Temperatures will drop as winds sweep in from the east passing over Poland, Germany and the near Continent.
Mr Leister said: “It is going to feel more like winter than spring in parts of northern Europe as Arctic air sends temperatures tumbling the next several days.
“The core of the cold air will shift over southern parts of the United Kingdom and France this weekend, keeping temperatures several degrees below normal while the chill slowly eases from Germany into Poland.”
Temperature charts show bitter winds will make it feel close to -9C (15.8F) across parts of southern England through the end of the week with central regions plunging to -6C (21.2F) while Scotland and the north will be milder at freezing or just above.
Models also show the risk of a flurry of snow over high ground in Scotland through the end of the week and this weekend.
John Hammond, meteorologist for digital weather forecasting service Weathertrending, said temperatures may start to lift this weekend.
He said: “Some persistent rain may spread across from the Low Countries by midweek.
“We’ll have to keep any eye on the possibility of further snowfall if the wet weather reaches the higher ground further north across the UK.
UK weather forecast: Cold weather is forecast for the UK
“Expect further late frosts if, and when, winds fall light and skies clear.
“A slow recovery in temperatures may erratically begin through the weekend.”
Bookies have taken the axe to odds on late snowfall as temperatures plunge into the second half of April.
Ladbrokes is offering 5/1 from 12/1 on snow falling anywhere on Easter Sunday while Coral is giving 10-11 for a flurry.
Ladbrokes’ Alex Apati said: “We may be on for a scorching spring but not before even more snowfall if the latest odds are anything to go by.”
Coral’s John Hill added: “There is no chance of the Easter eggs melting this year as the betting suggests we are more likely to see snow than any sunshine over the Easter weekend.”