A major change in the weather is underway for the UK, as cold air moves in from the north, bringing snow, ice and low temperatures for many.
Warnings for snow and ice have been issued with the initial focus of the most impactful snow in northeastern areas of the UK, as well as some Northern Ireland and southern and central areas of England and Wales.
In excess of 20cm of snow could accumulate over high ground in Scotland and more than 5cm is likely to accumulate even to lower levels in the northeast of the UK.
While Northern Ireland will initially escape large accumulations of snow, 2cm could settle in some spots on Monday night, most likely over higher ground and over northern parts of Northern Ireland.
Met Office chief meteorologist Dan Suri said: “Snow, ice and low temperatures are the main themes of this week’s forecast, as the UK comes under the influence of an arctic maritime airmass as cold air moves in from the north.
“Snow is already falling in parts of the north where some travel disruption likely, as well as a chance of some rural communities being cut off.
“Snow showers will continue through today and Tuesday here, and Northern Ireland will also be subject to some snow showers, especially over high ground.
“Ice will provide an additional hazard for many with overnight low temperatures well below 0°C for many.
“Further south wintry hazards will develop with parts of England and Wales affected by icy patches and snow in places tonight and likely further snow in parts of the south early Wednesday.”
Dale Hipkiss, National Network Manager at National Highways, said: “Keeping a kit of essential items like a torch and warm clothes, in your vehicle, can be vital in case you and your passengers become stranded in winter.
“Freezing conditions bring so many hazards such as snow and ice and take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow lots of extra time when travelling to prepare for the unexpected.
“It is therefore always important to plan ahead for your journey, listen to the weather forecasts, and if weather conditions become challenging, adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care.”
James Coles of Scottish Mountain Rescue and Team Leader at Moffat Mountain Rescue said: “The UK is entering a period of increasingly challenging weather conditions with snow, ice and gusty winds all featuring prominently in the forecast for the coming week
” Upland areas, especially in the mountains, can see conditions change very rapidly and they may be markedly different from surrounding lowland areas.”
From late on Tuesday and early Wednesday, the snow risk is initially in the south as mild air gradually moves in from the southwest but brings with it snow as it meets the cold air.
This risk of snow gradually spreads further north through the latter half of the week. Further warnings have been issued.
Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Steven Keates said: “The impactful weather will continue through the second half of the week as mild air meets cold air with further snow, ice, wind and then rain likely later in the week and into the weekend.
“From Wednesday, the focus of further snow is across parts of southern England and south Wales, with snow likely to lower levels for a time, and many may wake up to a couple of centimetres of snow on Wednesday morning.
“Through Thursday and Friday the snow risk spreads to central and northern areas of the UK, though it’s not possible to pick out precise locations regarding who will see the heaviest snowfall.
“With a developing situation, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest forecast and further warnings are very likely.”
By Friday, winds will also be increasing as low pressure moves in from the west. It remains uncertain where the boundary between the mild air to the south and cold air to the north will lie exactly, but southern areas are more likely to see cloud, wind and rain, while areas to the north of that boundary could see further disruptive snowfall, with strong winds possibly creating snowdrifts in places.