An arctic blast is expected to bring more snow and bitterly cold weather to the UK this week, with forecasters predicting there might even be a white Christmas.
Cold winds from the north look set to bring a band of rain and high winds on Thursday followed immediately by snow across the country.
Aisling Creevey, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “We’ve had a little bit of a reprieve over the last few days – pretty much everywhere is at risk from snow and icy conditions as the temperature drops on Thursday.
“And temperatures could be down to minus 10C in Scotland and to minus 4C and minus 5C across the country overnight on Friday.”
David Price, a forecaster for the Met Office, said there would be 5-10cm of snow over much of the country, with some higher areas of Scotland facing as much as 20cm.
MeteoGroup insisted it was too early to forecast a white Christmas, but the bookies have slashed their odds on its happening.
Aberdeen is William Hill’s 9/4 favourite to see snow at Christmas, with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle at 3/1. Odds on a blanket of the white stuff covering cities such as London, Leeds and Liverpool were 4/1.
The forecasts came as rail company Southeastern, which runs some of the country’s busiest commuter routes, admitted it would “always be a challenge” to run good services in snowy conditions.
The firm, whose season ticket-holders face the biggest fare increases in the new year, faced criticism about the way it dealt with the wintry weather earlier this month.
Managing director Charles Horton said: “The south east of England was very, very badly hit by snow and ice and we were always going to struggle. If there is very, very heavy snow, we are always going to find it a struggle to provide a good service.”