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Britain is facing down the barrel of a 40-hour snow storm, with parts of the country to see up to 12 inches, resulting in travel chaos and power cuts.
With forecasters fearing another Beast from the East could be on its way later this month, the Met Office has placed a snow and ice warning from 8am today until 9pm on Thursday.
It covers almost all of Scotland and parts of northern England, but forecasters predict snow could be seen further south as well by tomorrow.
The national weather agency's Alex Burkill said a band of heavy rain mixed with ominous freezing air "could bring some fairly significant snow", particularly on Thursday.
12 inches of snow is expected by Thursday in parts of Britain
(Image: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)
UK braced for 40 hours of snow as Met Office warns of rain and gale force winds
UK weather: Met Office issues snow and 20-hour ice warnings ahead of Beast from the East
"We could be looking at the risk of snow across many parts of northern England and into the Midlands and perhaps a little bit further east as well," he said.
And while the meteorologist predicted there could be 30cm of snow in Scotland, it is likely persistent rainfall would prevent much of it from settling elsewhere in the UK.
A rain warning remains in place across parts of Northern Ireland until 3am tomorrow, though it is expected to be dry through Thursday.
A 40-hour snow warning is in place
Overnight into today the temperature plummeted to -3C in the North, according to BBC weather charts.
BBC forecaster Stav Danaos, referring to Wednesday's weather, said: "As that rain starts to push slowly eastwards into that cold air it falls on freezing surfaces, we could see an ice risk in north west England, western Scotland for a while.
"It'll slowly push eastwards, perhaps with some snow developing over the Pennines and also the hills of Scotland."
The worst of the snow is expected in Scotland
(Image: Villager Jim / SWNS.com)
A band of rain will meet icy air to produce snow
The far north east is due to stay dry through the afternoon but cold at just 2 or 3C, while in the south it will likely be "cloudy and wet but much milder", with temperatures in the south west peaking at 11C, he added.
Referring to Thursday, he said: "For most of Britain a rather atrocious day – outbreaks of heavy rain, some localised flooding in places and further snow over northern hills there."
UK 5 day weather forecast Today:
Band of rain moves east bringing a risk of sleet, snow and ice to parts of northern England and Scotland, while clearing central and southwest England and Wales during the morning.
Rain, sleet and snow in north and east of the UK, with some heavier falls of snow over hills in north. Rain turning heavy, across west Wales and northwest England.
Further rain across England, Wales and Scotland, falling as sleet and snow in places, but clearing south and east through the afternoon. Drier with some sunshine across Northern Ireland.
Outlook for Friday to Sunday:
Many areas dry Friday. Rain spreads across the northwest later, this crossing all parts Saturday. Dry in the south, showers in the north later Saturday and through Sunday.