A rash of weather warnings have been issued across the UK for the start of the weekend as a collection of rain-bearing frontal systems sweep in from the Atlantic and meet the very cold air that has sat across us for the end of the working week.
This meeting of air masses will create some hazardous winter conditions over the next 48 hours - giving, most notably, a period of snow, mainly over higher ground, with the greatest accumulations and impacts in Northern Scotland.
Perhaps more significantly, however, there is also the likelihood of a period of widespread freezing rain, particularly for upland areas between Central Scotland and the north Midlands with the main risks being from Saturday afternoon. Amber warnings have been issued.
These warnings sit within a broader Yellow warning for snow and ice which covers most of Scotland and Northern England, extending into East Wales, the South Midlands and East Anglia and lasting into Sunday morning.
Freezing rain is rare in the UK, and this event being so widespread is more unusual still. Those on the roads can be particularly badly affected with black ice, falling branches (through sheer weight of accumulated ice) and damage to power lines.
Conditions improve for most by early Sunday leaving more benign conditions with sunshine and showers.
There will be cold, potentially hazardous wintry conditions this weekend. But this may very well be a good warm up (no pun intended) run for what might be on the cards for the start of 2019.
Forecasters are acknowledging the increasing chance of another Sudden Statospheric Warming event (SSW) to occur in the near future - the very same situation that gave us the Beast From The East earlier this year.
- Weather warnings issued across the UK
In the Met Office's most recent longer range forecast they state: "Through the first half of January there is an increasing likelihood for it to turn colder bringing the increased risk of winter hazards, especially frost and fog. Some snow is also likely with temperatures expected to fall below normal."
However, there is uncertainty in the timing of this change to turn colder, and it could come before the end of December.'