THE unseasonably warm start to 2017 is set to come to a freezing end this week with Met Office warnings of storms and snow by Friday.

Weather forecasters say parts of the UK will be hit by “thundersnow” and blizzards as an arctic cold spell blows in from the north.

However, the jury remains out on how bad things will be for the North-East with the possibility that the worst of the weather may be confined to the coast.

Across Scotland yellow warnings for wind and snow have been issued by the Met Office, with snow showers expected to bring 2-5 cm of snow at lower levels and 10-20 cm on ground above 200m to 300m.

Affecting Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of the North West from Wednesday, the warning expands to include Wales, Eastern England and the North-East coast by Thursday and into Friday.

However, national newspaper warnings of an “Arctic megablast” are wide of the mark. In the North-East, temperatures will not be far off the seasonal norm.

According to the Met Office night-time temperatures in built-up areas will fall to just below freezing – a few degrees lower than the usual.

Darlington will see mainly clear skies and frost – but no significant snow. Further West, over Teesdale, the temperatures will fall to -2C on Friday and Saturday. Heavy snow is forecast for more remote areas, such as Langdon Beck, on Wednesday evening into Thursday when temperatures will fall as low as -5C.

Snow is forecast for high ground in North Yorkshire and gale force winds may lead to drifting.

The Northern Echo:

CHILL: A Met Office graphic showing where snow is expected on Thursday.

With the cold air originating over arctic Canada, Met Office meteorologist Emma Sharples warned that with the high winds and snow "we could get some blizzard type conditions, especially at height".

Quizzed on the possibility of "thundersnow", where the rain associated with a thunderstorm falls as snow, she added: "It is possible, all that really needs is for thunder to happen at the same time as the snow.

"So where you get very active or vigorous showers - which is what we are going to see... then we could well get some thunder as well. It is definitely possible."

Ms Sharples said that because the snow at lower levels will come in the form of "showers", unless there is "shower after shower coming over the same location", it is unlikely to build up to too much.

But she warned: "Even a centimetre of snow in this country can obviously cause some disruption", adding that there could also be "some showers in land, but they are likely to be short-lived".

The Met Office have said that "lightning may accompany the heaviest showers, with potential disruption to power supplies as a consequence".

And on Wednesday and Thursday, "wind gusts of up to 55mph are expected in exposed coastal areas and on hills".

Overnight frosts are also set to develop in most places, with "severe frost likely where there is snow on the ground in the north".

In terms of temperatures, Ms Sharples said: "We are looking at low single figures, 2C to 5C by day, and then overnight it will vary across the country.

"But where there is snow lying it could be heading towards double minus figures, -8 or -10C especially in towns and cities, and probably in the north of England and Scotland."

Rod Dennis, of the RAC, said drivers should be prepared for "tricky driving conditions and significantly extended journey times".

"Even a small amount of snowfall has the potential to cause major disruption for motorists. The fact that drivers in some parts of the country will be faced with strong winds, snow showers and icy stretches increases the chances of problems on the road enormously," he added.

"A lot of accidents happen when people are in rush. With conditions deteriorating this week, we strongly advise motorists to plan their trips carefully and consider rearranging any non-essential journeys in the parts of the country most likely to be affected by the bad weather.

"Drivers should take the time to check over their car now to make sure it's in the best condition possible for the arrival of snow and ice. We recommend tyres are checked for tread and pressure, wipers for any wear, and screen wash that protects to well below freezing is topped up.

"When out on snowy roads, always have dipped headlights on and proceed carefully and cautiously. Drive with a very light right foot, and keep your revs down by changing to as high a gear as possible.

"Try to avoid braking and turning at the same time. When approaching a bend in the road, reduce your speed first and then begin to turn. Above all, avoid the temptation to brake sharply as that will make you lose control."

  • If you're out and about in the snow later this week don't forget to send your photos to our newsdesk -
  • Please put 'Snow' in the subject box