A huge region of high pressure stretching 2,000 miles from Scandinavia to Spain will steer bitter easterly winds across the UK through this week. Thermometers will nosedive to freezing widely as forecasters warn of frosty mornings and even snow flurries.
Just days after glorious sunshine was raising hopes for the hottest Easter on record, Britons face one of the coldest spring snaps for decades.
Jim Dale, meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: “The weather will stay on the cool to cold side now through the rest of the month and into May.
“We are looking at some cold frosty mornings while some weather models suggest we might see snow returning to parts.
“This cold weather is coming in from Scandinavia, as winds circle around high pressure wedged over the UK, and which looks like staying put for a while.
“The only saving grace will be the strength of the sun which at this time of year will take the edge off the cold north-easterly winds.”
Temperatures will nosedive to -5C across Scotland during the first week of May while around the rest of the UK they will struggle to lift much above freezing by night.
Daytime highs will only brush double figures across northern Britain with highs of just 13C or 14C likely elsewhere.
Daily records may be under threat with the lowest temperature for May 5 currently -7.7C captured at Kinbrace, in the Highlands of Scotland, while for May 6 it is -5.6C measured at Camps Reservoir, Lanarkshire, in 1980.
The pressure set up responsible for feeding chilly winds in from the north-east is likely to persist through the month, according to the Met Office.
Meteorologist Luke Miall said: “High pressure will remain over the north of the UK with lower pressure towards the south.
“We will continue to see easterly winds dragging in from the North Sea, and this will peg back those temperatures.
“Western areas will be better in terms of temperature, but with easterly winds we could see some gustiness over towards the west, so here it will be warmer but it could be windier at times too.”
An Arctic plume driven by high pressure will make inroads into Britain through this week, forecasters warn.
While it will keep rain largely at bay, northern regions could see the return of wintry showers.
Clear skies and sunshine will give a brief burst of spring warmth through the start of the week before the cold sets in.
John Hammond, meteorologist for Weathertrending, said: “The winds will ease for a time early this week, so it will feel pleasant by day.
“It will also be largely dry and fine with limited rainfall, but as high pressure moves further northwest, fresh waves of Arctic air will be pushed towards the UK.
“This will bring the chance of overnight frosts and there is a good chance that temperatures will fall to freezing or below overnight later in the week.
“I wouldn’t rule out the odd wintry shower or two which will be most likely across high ground in the north.”
Northern and eastern regions will start to turn colder tomorrow as winds veer in from the north.
Netweather forcaster Nick Finnis said: “With the wind turning northerly, it will feel rather cool towards northern and eastern coasts.
“Temperatures will reach 9C to 12C at best, away from here and with any brightness they will reach 13-16C.”