Britain braced for 'polar plume': what's causing the cold weather?

Hopes of a warm and sunny bank holiday weekend dashed as cold air mass blows in from the Arctic

Early morning frost in Hyde Park. After a night of sub-zero temperatures Britain awoke to freezing fog and icy conditions, and what forecasters predict would be the coldest day of the year.
(Image credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Britain is braced for snow, hail and gale-force winds this week as a "polar plume" blows in from the north causing temperatures to plummet.

The balmy temperatures experienced last week "will fast become a distant memory" as the weather system lingers over the country until the end of the week, says the Daily Telegraph.

There was widespread frost in rural parts of the country this morning, with snow and sleet a possibility in northern England and Scotland until Tuesday. Low pressure will bring rain to much of the country on Wednesday.

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The mercury could plummet to -6C overnight in some parts of the country over the next few days, while daily temperatures will struggle to reach 13C.

The cold weather comes just days after Britain basked in what is expected to be the warmest April on record, but will now go from being hotter than Cairo last week to being colder than Stockholm this week.

The icy blast is the result of "a genuinely cold air mass” moving down from Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic, explains Steven Keates from the Met Office.

"It's going to be a bit of a shock to the system," he said. "The whole week is going to be really quite cold and strong winds will only accentuate the effect."

The bank holiday weekend is expected to be cold and unsettled, with gales expected in Scotland and northern England.

The Met Office also dashed hopes of another heatwave in the coming weeks. "The first half of May is looking fairly unsettled," said Keates. "Temperatures will be below average and there is still a risk of frost."

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