A major freeze will see temperatures drop to -4C in a two-day cold snap starting today – and may well be snowing next week.
Autumn has seen plenty of sunshine so far, with speculators predicting that October will be the hottest on record.
But balmy days are coming to an end and Britons have been told to ditch their winter coats as a chilly blast roars.
Forecasters think a cold polar vortex could explode in a matter of weeks – bringing with it a white Halloween for some.
Weather maps show that parts of Scotland will be the first to be affected, with snow falling within a few days.
Claire Nasser of the Met Office said: “Over the next 24 hours, cold air will blow from the north.
“If you step out into the north and east of the country on a Friday morning you’ll really see the difference.”
Today will be sunny and bright for most of the winter before the winter brings frost.
Ms Nasser said, “A mostly dry night is coming, with some break in cloud, some haze and fog may form over England and Wales, especially to the south and west.”
“If you catch some sunshine today, the temperature is reaching 17C – a pleasant day outside.
“By Thursday evening and into Friday morning, we see this rain moving south from Scotland to England and Wales.
“Expect a fairly widespread frost as we move into more rural locations in the early hours of Friday morning where temperatures will be -2C to -4C.”
The weekend will also bring cooler weather overnight.
“By Saturday, the winds will slowly but surely move from the west and eventually bring more clouds,” Ms Nasser said.
“It will be dry in broad daylight before more rain to the west later.
“Beware the night frosts as we move into the first half of the weekend.”
His colleague Aidan McGivern warned of a wet and wild week from Monday.
“A low will send an increasingly strong south-westerly wind across the UK,” he said.
“The southwest is generally mild and humid, but may contain some subtropical moisture.
“As a result, there is a risk of some very heavy rain over the western parts of the UK – some impressive, wet weather from early next week.
“In addition, the energy from this could cause some very strong winds from early next week, as this lower edge is also closer to the north-west parts of the UK.”
wrap up warm
Millions of people are ready to see snow after the rain.
In some parts of Wales and Scotland, blankets can be worn until 6 a.m. on 24 October.
And even southern shorelines can get dusty in a forecast “rare” last seen in 2008.
Speculators Harry Aitkenhead Corral says it is likely that a major UK city will see snow by the end of the month.
“We better make up for any balmy temperatures because there is set to be a big freeze at the end of October, so we are likely to see snow fall in the UK this month,” said Coral’s Harry Aitkenhead.
“We give it a 2-1 chance that this winter will be in the record books as the coldest season the UK has ever experienced.”
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