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Britain is braced for an Arctic plunge over the next few days with temperatures dropping to -8C (18F) and up to two inches of snowfall – bringing a wintry feel to a country that had been enjoying a taste of summer a week ago.

The Met Office issued a weather warning for snow and ice in parts of Scotland today – and high ground across the UK in the North and Midlands could see nearly an inch of ‘slushy wet snow’, although this is likely to melt quickly.

The about-turn in conditions comes as the high pressure system that brought dry and mild weather last week with temperatures soaring to 20.8C (69.4F) is shifting out to the South, introducing colder Arctic air from the North.

Forecasters have warned of ‘a spell of unsettled weather’ on the way for much of the UK in the coming days – with rain showers and a possible mix of sleet and snow, especially on high ground in the North.

The Met Office said up to 2in (5cm) of snow could build up on high ground in Scotland, A ‘wintry mix’ is also likely on lower ground although these accumulations will be ‘unlikely to hang around for too long through the day’.

As the cold front sinks to the South tonight, there is an ‘ongoing chance of a wintry mix of precipitation for most, with rain and sleet more likely on the lower ground, although flakes of snow remain possible in places’. 

Snow lies on the ground near Stanhope in Northumberland this morning as wintry weather returns to parts of Britain

Snow lies on the ground near Stanhope in Northumberland this morning as wintry weather returns to parts of Britain

Snow lies on the ground near Stanhope in Northumberland this morning as wintry weather returns to parts of Britain

An aerial view of Aviemore in the Highlands this morning as snow falls across norther parts of Scotland

An aerial view of Aviemore in the Highlands this morning as snow falls across norther parts of Scotland

An aerial view of Aviemore in the Highlands this morning as snow falls across norther parts of Scotland

A farmer drives out to feed his sheep in a snow-covered field near Killhope in County Durham this morning

A farmer drives out to feed his sheep in a snow-covered field near Killhope in County Durham this morning

A farmer drives out to feed his sheep in a snow-covered field near Killhope in County Durham this morning

Daffodil blooms in the snow near Stanhope in Northumberland this morning as wintry weather returns to parts of Britain

Daffodil blooms in the snow near Stanhope in Northumberland this morning as wintry weather returns to parts of Britain

Daffodil blooms in the snow near Stanhope in Northumberland this morning as wintry weather returns to parts of Britain

An aerial view of Aviemore in the Highlands this morning as snow falls across norther parts of Scotland

An aerial view of Aviemore in the Highlands this morning as snow falls across norther parts of Scotland

An aerial view of Aviemore in the Highlands this morning as snow falls across norther parts of Scotland

There will also be drop in temperatures that many places around the UK have already been experiencing in recent days, following a very mild week last week that saw highs hovering around 20C (68F) for most of the week.

Isolated rural areas in northern Scotland could see temperatures as low as –8C (18F) tomorrow night, with ‘sub-zero temperatures possible overnight for much of the UK throughout the week’.

The unsettled weather will continue into the weekend, with the cold front clearing the far South East tomorrow morning, followed by wintry showers for many places tomorrow and on Friday, ahead of an unsettled weekend.

Overnight lows of -2C (28F) are expected in London this weekend, although temperatures are likely to gradually recover to near-average over the weekend and into next week which should see daily highs of around 14C (57F).

Met Office chief meteorologist Steve Willington said: ‘Cold and unsettled weather is taking charge over much of the UK this week, as cold air is drawn in from the north and brings with it the risk of rain, sleet and snow.

‘Although there’s still some uncertainty on the exact positioning of snow showers, the trend is for a mix of sleet and snow to fall as a cold front moves from the north to the south from late Tuesday through to Thursday morning.

‘Some clear spells are still around later in the week, with the best of any sunshine likely to be in the south and west of the UK, albeit feeling cold compared to last week.’

Meanwhile the Royal Horticultural Society’s chief horticultural advisor Guy Barter said: ‘Colder weather will slow plant growth and inhibit plums and pears pollination as insects fly less in cold dull weather.

‘Limited rain will help new sowings of peas and carrots for example and newly planted lettuces and other plants but should not greatly delay sowing and planting once conditions improve.

‘Tender plants, petunias and tomatoes for example, won’t be put outside for another month at least but lower light affects greenhouses and will slow their growth.’

Source: Daily Mail

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