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Cold spell later this week, but is it a Beast from the East?

There has been a lot of talk on social media about the return later this week of 'The Beast from the East' - which last winter (towards late February) brought severe cold and a good dose of snow to the region.

There is no easterly in our weather forecasts for the rest of this week.

An easterly weather set up (where a bitter 'polar continental' airmass is drawn directly across a dry continent from eastern Europe) is different to the one we're expecting in the coming days.

More typical, and less dramatic in this case, is a blast of cold air from the north. An Arctic air mass moves in over the UK late Wednesday into Thursday, and this will bring cold days, frosty nights and perhaps some snow - in the short term confined to our higher routes. All this very normal for a winter in the North West.

It is possible that a more significant cold wave could occur later in the month and towards early February, with Met Office predictions forecasting a colder than average spell. But we need to get there first.

Cold Arctic air moves in from the north by late Wednesday into Thursday Credit: Met Office/ ITV

MIDWEEK:

Windy with early rain sinking south before clearing to showers.

By Wednesday night the really cold air will have moved in over the UK from the north. This will lead to a widespread frost into Thursday morning.

There will be some transient showers Wednesday evening, potentially falling as snow over hills for a time. This means that there could be a small covering of snow on Trans-Pennine routes and the real risk of ice even at lower levels.

THURSDAY:

A much colder day yet brighter and drier. You will need to wrap up but a lovely dose of winter sunshine on offer.

FRIDAY:

Starting cold and frosty once more, with some sunshine to begin. Perhaps turning cloudier again later, with some rain, but there is some uncertainty on the timing and track of the low pressure system in the west.