A yellow weather warning has been issued for snow and ice in parts of Scotland and northern England as temperatures are set to plummet to as low as -8C.
Up to four inches of snow will blanket some parts of the country today and what will be a noticeable chillier than usual start to the spring season.
The weather warning, which started at 6pm on Sunday, extends to just before midnight on Tuesday and covers the northern part of Scotland, including Aberdeen and Inverness.
Temperatures are also set to plummet to -8C in some parts of Scotland, with below freezing temperatures predicted to continue until March 11 at least amid a Sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event.
Snow and ice are also set to descend on northern England, the east coast of England and Northern Ireland caused by freezing Artic air after a spate of calmer conditions.
The recent benign conditions are down to an area of high pressure, which is now moving away to the west, allowing a northerly airflow to sweep across the UK.
The chance of snow in the south is at its highest after Tuesday.
Your browser does not support iframes.
Snow will blanket parts of the country today including Scotland and northern England in what will be a noticeably cooler than usual start to the spring season
A yellow weather warning is issued when there is a small chance of travel delays, minor injuries due to ice, power cuts, and the cutting off of rural areas
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning from 6pm this evening for snow and ice for parts of Scotland (Sunday weather warnings)
The Met Office said the start of next week will be the coldest day of the year so far, with temperatures dropping to near freezing in northern parts of the UK. Pictured: Today’s weather warnings (left) and Tuesday weather warnings (right)
The UK Health Security Agency has also issued a cold weather alert between the early hours of this morning and midnight on Thursday.
A yellow weather warning is issued when there is a small chance of travel delays, minor injuries due to ice, power cuts, and the cutting off of rural areas.
The UK Health Security Agency reminded people to look after the vulnerable. Its cold weather alert will take force from early today and last until midnight on Thursday.
The north east of England, north west of England and Yorkshire are all under a level three alert, while the rest of the country remain at a level two.
A level three alert means there is a 90 per cent chance of severely cold weather, icy conditions or heavy snow, which could increase the health risk to vulnerable patients, the NHS said.
The agency said if a person is over the age of 65 or has a pre-existing medical condition, they should try to heat their home to at least 18C during the cold snap.
Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, said: ‘During periods like this, it is important to check in on family, friends and relatives who may be more vulnerable to the cold weather, as it can have a serious impact on health.
A family enjoys the snow in Tomintoul today. Kate and Fraser Gormley were out in the cold weather with their four-year-old twins
A car in the snow near Tomintoul, a village in Scotland, on Sunday. A Met Office yellow warning for snow comes into force at 6pm
Parts of England could also be in for cold and snowy weather this week (Pictured Stoke-on-Trent during the January cold snap this year)
What is a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW)?
A sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) is a term used to describe a phenomenon in which the temperature in the stratosphere, a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, increases rapidly.
The warming can cause the circulation of air at the poles to reduce speed, or even reverse its trajectory.
This in turn can have a major impact on weather patterns, pushing cold air down from the poles and bringing a storm of freezing weather and blizzards.
‘If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it is important to try and heat your home to at least 18C if you can.’
Temperatures are likely to remain well below the average for March over the next week, the Met Office said.
Deputy Chief Meteorologist, Chris Almond, said: ‘Very cold air will spread across the UK from late on Sunday through early next week.
‘This brings with it snow even to low levels in the north and east through Monday and Tuesday, and in excess of 10cm could accumulate, most likely on high ground in the north, but also settling for a time at lower levels.
‘With freezing overnight temperatures and the risk of ice, there’s a risk of some travel disruption and wintry hazards are likely to persist through much of next week, even further south for a time.’
James Coles of Scottish Mountain Rescue and Team Leader at Moffat Mountain Rescue added: ‘The UK is entering a period of increasingly challenging weather conditions with snow, ice and gusty winds all featuring prominently in the forecast for the coming week.
‘Upland areas, especially in the mountains, can see conditions change very rapidly and they may be markedly different from surrounding lowland areas.
‘Met Office warnings come into force on Monday, but conditions ahead may deteriorate more quickly at higher elevations.’
The cold snap could also prolong Britain’s food shortages, with crops set to suffer in the freezing temperatures.
Experts have warned cucumber and tomato crops will be delayed, as salad items across the country are being rationed in supermarkets amid ongoing shortages.
It comes as droughts and frosty weather over the Christmas period stunted the growth of carrots, cauliflower, leek and cabbage crops, with warnings that stocks of these vegetables are also set to dwindle.
The severe weather, which is the result of an Artic Maritime Airmass sweeping across the UK, comes after a drier February than usual.
The UK saw just 45 per cent of its average rainfall for the month, with 43.4mm of rain in February, making it the driest in 30 years.
Despite unusually cold conditions for this time of year, it is not the latest that the UK has seen a cold snap.
Last year, Londoners shivered under one of the coldest April nights on record as temperatures fell to -3C, and snow blanketed the capital.