Britain will be offered some long-awaited respite from the bitterly cold winter weather in the coming days, as temperatures rise and the “big thaw” kicks in.
Forecasters predict daytime temperatures will “universally” be above freezing for the majority of the week, melting compacted snow and treacherous ice that has blighted the UK this Christmas.
The mercury will hit double figures in parts of the south on Wednesday, staying at a similar level during the week. And although temperatures are expected to dip again slightly at the weekend, they will not compare to the bone-chilling readings endured during the Arctic freeze earlier this month.
Forecaster Michael Lawrence, from the Met Office, said: “There will be a lot of low cloud, mist and fog (on Tuesday) and it will feel less cold with the strong winds easing.
“There will also be some spells of light rain and drizzle which will add to the thawing that has already begun. It will be much of the same into Wednesday and Thursday with large amounts of cloud keeping the temperatures across the country universally positive.”
Plymouth and Exeter in south west England are expected to reach 10C on Tuesday, with temperatures reaching 4C in the Midlands. The north of England will be cooler with the mercury hitting a below average 1C in Newcastle and 2C in Leeds – but for many it will be a marked improvement on the recent spell of sub-zero conditions.
“The weather with generally be fairly benign compare to what we have had recently,” added Mr Lawrence. “At the moment we are looking to get back to near normal temperatures and it will not be as extreme as the stuff we have over Christmas.”
The weather expert added: “Temperatures are going to drop slightly at the weekend but the readings will not be comparable to the recent past.”
Despite the break in the icy freeze, the Met Office is predicting that this month will be “by some margin” the coldest December since records began 100 years ago.
Temperatures fell as low as minus 18.2C on Christmas Day, and many areas also had a bitterly cold Boxing Day.