UK weather forecast – Britain to be battered by 50mph gales and lashing rain today ahead of a polar PLUNGE next week

The UK will be hit by gusts of up to 50 mph this weekend before sub-zero arctic air pushes in – as forecasters warn to brace for the first "widespread snow" of winter.

Every part of the UK will see strong winds over the next couple of days as a volatile Atlantic low-pressure system clips the country.

The worst of the gales will lash exposed parts of the north – while elsewhere gusts of up to 40mph are forecast widely through Saturday and Sunday.

Met Office forecaster Sarah Kent said: “The weekend will be a contrast to this week as it is going to become windy across the whole of the UK.

“We could see gusts of 50mph across Shetland and exposed parts of the north although across the whole of England and Wales winds will reach 35mph with gusts of 40 to 45mph possible in exposed regions.

“Very unsettled weather is going to continue through the weekend, this is something we are going to be keeping our eyes on.”

But high pressure to the southwest of the UK will steer milder air into Britain pushing temperatures into double figures this weekend, she added.

Although it will turn much colder again next week – with growing signals for a more severe bout of winter weather later in the month, she added.

Ms Kent said: “We could see highs of 10C or 11C over the weekend, but is going to turn cooler next week and less windy.

“It looks like the last week of January will bring a significant downward turn in temperatures, possibly becoming locally very cold.

“As Atlantic frontal systems come in and bump into this cold air we will have an enhanced risk of snowfall.”

Saturday is set to be a washout for parts – especially in the North West and Western Scotland.

Elsewhere it will be dreary with grey clouds widespread across much of the country.

But there will be some glimmers of brightness in the South West and Eastern areas throughout the day.

An update from forecasters at Meteogroup UK said: "It will be cloudy with the odd spot of light rain or drizzle for most.

"Rain will be persistent and heavy at times for north-western areas, especially for western Scotland.

"It will be bright at times in the south-west and for some easternmost areas.

"There will be brisk westerly winds for many, strongest in the north and west.

"Tonight there will be outbreaks of rain for Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England.

"Some of the rain will be heavy, especially in western Scotland.

"A few spots of rain are possible for England and Wales, especially for south-east England before midnight. Brisk to strong winds."

The imminent cold weather will be driven by a warming of the air over the North Pole dragging colder winds in from the east – a so-called Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW).

SSW was the driver for last year’s Beast from the East which brought the country to a shivering standstill at the end of winter.

Miss Kent said: “SSW has happened and it gives us an increased likelihood of colder weather in the UK.”

Britain could see the first widespread snow of winter by next weekend as the mild weather gives way to a freezing blast.

John Hammond, forecaster for Weathertrending, said: “By the weekend, I expect snow will be falling in places – initially across northern hills.

“But there’s a significant risk of more widespread snowfall as the next Atlantic system ‘bumps’ into the cold air, by then resident across the UK.”

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