Detailed forecast for Christmas week for the whole of northern England.

The NW of England has the greatest chance of seeing a White Christmas. Photo: Peter Bond, Saughall

The next five days are looking unsettled and stormy.

The most important message to convey today is... if you are planning a Christmas getaway tomorrow, Monday, better to go today if you possibly can. The weather is looking horrendous on Monday, especially between 10am and 2pm.

Higher routes will prove particularly treacherous, and the forecast will affect roads, flights and ferries so please check travel plans and warn friends and relatives.

In fact, if you are travelling anytime at the start or end of the upcoming festive week it's looking very wet and windy, so you will need to keep up-to-date with weather warnings from the Met Office. Some have already been issued UK-wide.

Since many people will be travelling outside the region throughout the period, the forecast below is for the whole of northern England; showers, rain and strongest winds will always be more focussed on the western side of the country.

A word about southern England... further south, an Amber "Be Prepared" weather warning is in force for heavy rain and very strong winds on Monday. Very difficult driving conditions for the south and Wales with a couple of inches of rain and winds gusts of 70 mph, especially around the exposed coasts and hills. For Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day as a general rule the further east you go, the drier and brighter it will be.

Back to the north of England in more detail...

Shaded areas show weather warnings for Monday.

MONDAY

After a cold, bright start, heavy, persistent rain pulls in from the west turning to snow for a time as it comes up against colder air, with gale to severe gale force winds making higher routes really nasty. A rapidly deepening low brings these widespread powerful winds. They will be strongest through the west with gusts of 70mph through westernmost counties and the Irish Sea; gusts inland nearer 50-60mph.

Conditions will affect flights, roads and ferries so please check travel plans.

The worst period will be between 10am and 2pm when the rain will turn to snow over the higher ground .

By 2pm, the snow turns back to rain, but our next problem will be with snowmelt.

There will be lots of surface water and spray on the roads.

Once the main rain band clears, heavy showers follow behind. It remains very windy throughout the day, temperatures lift to around 9-10c, but these are totally academic in the wind and rain.

Shaded areas show weather warnings for Tuesday. Credit: Met Office

TUESDAY - CHRISTMAS EVE

Cold start with icy stretches. Strong to gale force winds again. It will be a day of sunny spells and blustery showers. These showers will be heavy and wintry with hail and thunder, especially in the west.

Christmas Eve night will be cold and frosty.

WEDNESDAY - CHRISTMAS DAY

A colder day. Starting frosty, lighter winds. Showers more focussed through the western side of Northern England. Heavy ones will fall as snow to 200m and will therefore primarily affect higher ground in general, inparticular Cumbria and the West Pennines. A cold day with temperatures of 6c feeling like freezing in the wind chill.

Best chance of seeing a White Christmas will be in NW England and anywhere that's exposed to those raw and strong W/SW winds.

THURSDAY - BOXING DAY

Showers are again focussed through the Irish Sea, so through the eastern side of northern England it will be dry and sunny.

Further west however, showers at first, then the next band ofheavy, persistent rain pushes in from the west and it's all downhill from then on.

FRIDAY TO SUNDAY

Very wet and windy again.