A walker braves a snow shower in Nenthead, Cumbria, yesterday as Britain braces for an Arctic spell and plunging temperatures this week

Arctic blast warning as Britain braces for snow and -6C chill: Met Office issues severe cold weather alert with UK set to be gripped by freezing conditions from Wednesday

  • Met Office has triggered amber cold weather alert as Arctic blast hits the UK 
  • Britain is bracing for the coldest night of the season so far as temperatures fall
  • Snow showers expected in the North East, with temperatures to plunge to -6C
  • Current record is -5.4C at Redesdale Camp, Northumberland, on November 30

The Met Office has triggered an amber cold weather alert as Britain braces for the chilliest night of the winter so far.

Temperatures are set to plummet as low as -6C in the North East of England this week as a blast of Arctic air heading to the UK brings with it heavy frosts and a flurry of snow showers.

Forecasters have now issued a level 3, or amber, cold weather alert warning of severe conditions across all of England between 6pm Wednesday and 9am on Monday December 12.

The alert is triggered when the country faces extreme cold weather conditions that could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services. Under level 3, social and healthcare services are required to take action to protect high-risk groups.

Snow is set to fall in the North East from Wednesday, with temperatures falling as low as -6C by Thursday. The current English record is -5.4C at Redesdale Camp, Northumberland, on November 30. 

In Wales, the coldest temperature of the season was -2.8C at Libanus, Powys on December 2.

A walker braves a snow shower in Nenthead, Cumbria, yesterday as Britain braces for an Arctic spell and plunging temperatures this week

A walker braves a snow shower in Nenthead, Cumbria, yesterday as Britain braces for an Arctic spell and plunging temperatures this week

The Met Office has triggered a level 3, or amber, cold weather alert warning of severe conditions in England between 6pm Wednesday and 9am on Monday December 12. The alert means the cold weather could increase health risks to vulnerable people and it requires social and healthcare services to take action to protect high-risk groups

The Met Office has triggered a level 3, or amber, cold weather alert warning of severe conditions in England between 6pm Wednesday and 9am on Monday December 12. The alert means the cold weather could increase health risks to vulnerable people and it requires social and healthcare services to take action to protect high-risk groups

What is a level 3 cold weather alert? 

The Met Office has triggered a level 3, or amber, cold weather alert warning of severe conditions in England between 6pm Wednesday and 9am on Monday December 12.

The alert means the cold weather could increase health risks to vulnerable people and it requires social and healthcare services to take action to protect high-risk groups.

The Met Office said air from the Arctic will spread south across the country from late on Wednesday with very cold nights expected as well as frosts.

Wintry showers are also likely in coastal areas bringing risks of icy patches on roads.

In the Scottish Highlands on Wednesday, a warning has been issued for up to two inches of snow at low levels and four inches in areas at least 650ft above sea level. 

A Met Office spokesman said: ‘It will be turning colder on Wednesday and Thursday with snow showers across northern Scotland and perhaps parts of Northern Ireland and north-east England.’

Elsewhere, high pressure means sunny spells are set to dominate by midweek but clear skies will mean harsh frosts, with temperatures to fall as low as -6C in the Pennines on Thursday night.

In rural areas of Wales and southern England, -4C or -5C is possible.

By day, even London and south-east England could see daytime temperatures fall to just 2-3C on Wednesday and Thursday and barely rise above 0C on Friday.

Alex Burkill, Met Office meteorologist, said: ‘At the moment it is cloudy, meaning there won’t be huge differences between daily highs and overnight lows but, as we go through this week, we will get that cold northerly flow with clearer skies so sunny and crisp by day but even colder at night.’

‘It’s going to turn even colder and feel even colder still with temperatures well below average for the time of year both by day and by night.

‘In much of England, including the South West, we could see temperatures of minus 5C or minus 6C which is exceptionally cold.’ 

Thursday's temperature map

Friday's temperature map

The Met Office is expecting temperatures to plummet on Thursday (left) and Friday (right)

High pressure means sunny spells are set to dominate by midweek but the clear skies are set to mean harsh frosts with temperatures set to fall as low as -6C in the Pennines on Thursday night

High pressure means sunny spells are set to dominate by midweek but the clear skies are set to mean harsh frosts with temperatures set to fall as low as -6C in the Pennines on Thursday night

A car drives through snowy conditions near the Cumbrian town of Nenthead yesterday

A car drives through snowy conditions near the Cumbrian town of Nenthead yesterday

Mr Burkill warned the cold snap ‘could last a week’ – but is not likely to bring major snowfall for England and Wales.

He said: ‘The northerly flow is going to stay with us, it’s not going to be particularly unsettled, so there will be some showers, it’s mostly going to be largely dry but cold.

‘From the middle of next week there are some signs we may see some more unsettled weather with milder weather coming up from the south but it’s far away at the moment.’

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