Arctic blasts are set to sweep the country this week, bringing up to 8in (20cm) of snow as winter tightens its grip for the season’s first big chill.
Bitterly cold weather is forecast across Britain with the mercury plummeting to minus 9C (15.8F) in northern Scotland while maximum temperatures in the capital are unlikely to rise above 2C (36F).
Many regions have been warned to expect snow flurries as the cold weather takes hold.
But while freezing temperatures are set to last well into next week, forecasters suggested the biting conditions could abate later in the season.
Overall, the UK could see a milder winter owing to a particularly strong La Nina episode in the Pacific. The cooling of the tropical seas has been known to affect weather patterns across the globe and might mean a warmer than average start to the new year.
Aisling Creevey, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said overnight temperatures would remain below freezing this week, hitting their lowest point at the weekend.
“It is going to be cold, cold, cold. Temperatures are dropping to below average everywhere and will struggle to rise during the day,” she said.
“A northerly wind will bring wintery showers and snow, particularly to Scotland and coastal areas, and by Wednesday we will really be able to feel the difference across the country.”
The heaviest snowfalls are likely to be seen in north-east Scotland while Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and East Anglia could see “significant snow accumulations”.
Although forecasters said it was still too early to predict a white Christmas, bookmakers Coral have begun to slash their odds. Aberdeen is now the 3-1 favourite (from 4-1), while the odds in Edinburgh have fallen to 5-1 (from 6-1), and are at 7-1 in London and Cardiff, where they previously stood at 8-1.