A blast of Arctic air will bring an end to what has been a mild January for most of the UK towards the end of the week.
According to the Met Office, the weather will “get cold and stay cold” after Tuesday, as air from the north sweeps down the country.
Temperatures are expected to reach freezing point for much of the country from Wednesday and could go as low as -5C in some areas of Scotland and East Anglia.
But forecasters said the cold spell isn’t down to a new ‘Beast from the East’ – which saw wintry conditions hit the UK last year – and instead to ‘Arctic maritime airflow’ coming from the north and different to the extreme weather seen in parts of central Europe.
A Met Office spokesperson said there would only be a small chance of snow this week, confined to the north east of Scotland and western parts of the UK, but after that it was hard to predict.
And although temperatures are predicted to drop after Tuesday, the sun is expected to be out on Thursday.
Meteorologist Bonnie Diamond said average daytime temperatures in the south of England will struggle to rise above 6C.
While this is the norm for January, Diamond said people will not be used to the cold after such a mild start to the year.
“Other than the odd cold snap for some parts for the first half of January it has been relatively mild, but this week is a transition to colder weather for the entire country and will be noticeable for all of us and we’re going to really feel the switch to colder temperatures,” she added.
The Met Office said there are signs cold air from the east could make its way to the UK by the end of the month and into February, but experts do not believe the conditions would guarantee snowfall.
Diamond said: “Just because the wind is coming from the east does not necessarily mean we are going to see a repeat of last year.”
Parts of Europe have seen extreme weather for the beginning of the year, with Austria experiencing the highest January snowfall since 1923.