Snow and freezing rain will descend on parts of the UK this weekend as Storm Deirdre takes hold, with travel disruption and delays expected.
Six yellow and amber weather warnings cover almost the entire UK, apart from London and the South East, which are still likely to see heavy rain.
A new amber alert issued on Saturday warns of freezing rain and a “prolonged” period of heavy snow developing in the Scottish Borders in the afternoon.
What Is Freezing Rain?
According to the Met Office, freezing rain occurs when rain falls through sub-zero temperature air to become supercooled water that freezes “almost instantly” when it hits a cold surface.
Supercooled water droplets can exist in a liquid state below zero degrees, and occur in clouds in winter time.
Freezing rain typically starts life as snow, ice, sleet or hail which falls through a layer of air above zero degrees and melts into liquid water.
If these water droplets then pass through a zone of sub-zero air just above the ground, they become supercooled.
When supercooled droplets eventually strike cold ground they freeze on impact, creating a glaze of ice.
It is rare in the UK.
Another amber warning predicts potential blizzard conditions bringing disruption to transport and infrastructure in central and Northern Scotland between Saturday and Sunday mornings.
A third amber alert anticipates widespread freezing rain hitting the country from the southern Pennines up to central Scotland.
The Met Office warned that the “rare” weather phenomenon poses a “danger to life” and risk of injury as it creates very slippery surfaces.
Pavements and cycle paths are likely to become instantly impassable because of the sudden formation of black ice, it said.
This will also create dangerous driving conditions and is likely to lead to road traffic collisions, road closures and longer journey times.
Freezing rain is expected to strike from around lunchtime on Saturday and last until early Sunday.
A yellow warning of heavy rain and strong winds up to 70mph is in place for Northern Ireland, south-west England and South Wales until 6pm on Saturday.
Winds of between 40mph and 50mph were beginning to be recorded in the region early on Saturday morning.
A further yellow warning of snow and ice that covers nearly all of England and Scotland is running for until Sunday morning.
A yellow warning of severe gales has been issued for Northern Isles and parts of Caithness.
The storm is expected to become milder throughout the weekend.