Temperatures in West Country are set to plummet and are likely to remain below the winter average right through until March, forecasters have warned.
The Met Office has said the “big freeze” will begin at the end of the week, with snow in the North of the country and an icy blast bringing an end to the mild spell in the South.
The normal average January temperature is just 3.6C with December only slightly warmer at 3.9C. The Met Office said: “Indications are that December will most likely be colder than average. For December-January-February as a whole uncertainty is quite large but below-average temperatures are more likely than above-average.”
It is believed the below-average conditions could last for the next three months with what has been described as “a long, hard winter”.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said: “A significant change to much colder conditions is likely to develop next week. This wintry blast has all the ingredients to become a potentially widespread snow event.
“This will give an appropriate feel to the weather at the start of what is set to be a long, hard winter with abundant snowfall. January in particular could see temperatures hovering at several degrees below the seasonal average for a prolonged period of time.”
Bookmakers are giving 5/1 odds of a white Christmas, although forecasters have said it is too early to say for sure. Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, told the newspaper: “Signs at the moment are that this winter could break records.
“Although it is milder at the moment, it will quickly descend into a much colder theme towards the end of December and into next year.
“Temperatures may well struggle to get above freezing during the day. There is every possibility we could parallel one of the severe historic winters like 1947 or 1962.”
Take a look at the latest weather forecast for Dorset.