Some parts of the UK are set to feel colder than the Arctic Circle as the “beast from the east” sees freezing temperatures sweep the country.
Widespread snow is now forecast, with up to 20cm expected in the worst-affected areas over the course of the week, while wind chill factors mean it could feel as cold as -15C in some places.
The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, amid fears of disruption to travel on the roads, rail and in the air.
Met Office meteorologist Charlie Powell said: “The UK is on track for some really cold weather this week.
“It’s not going to be record-breaking, but it’ll be pretty exceptional – winds are going to make it feel -10C to -15C during the day.
“We will see the first signs of that tonight in the shape of snow showers working all the way down the east coast.
“That continues into Monday, with snow showers moving across the country during the day before reaching Wales.
“Winds are then going to strengthen and we could see some easterly gales through the eastern Channel and East Anglia by the middle of the week.
“That’s going to make it feel really cold, daytime temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday will be struggling to get above freezing for most of the country.”
Lows of -5C recorded over the weekend marked the lowest temperature in the week leading up to 1 March, the first day of meteorological spring, since 1986.
But wind chill, which could see parts of the UK feeling as cold as -15C over the coming days, rivals the temperatures forecast for parts of northern Norway and Iceland.
The unseasonably cold weather is being caused by a patch of arctic air drawn across the UK from Siberia, a weather front dubbed the “beast from the east”.
“By Thursday evening, there are growing signs there could be some significant snowfall across southern England,” Mr Powell added.
“Unusually for Britain, the snow is going to be quite dry, so it will blow around and gather in drifts and we could see some blizzard conditions.
“We don’t want to scare people, but people should make sure they are prepared for some seriously cold weather.”
Additional reporting by Press Association