Britain is bracing for heavy snow and weeks of extreme cold with a rare triple polar vortex expected to cause chaos across the country.
Arctic air will blast the nation, sending temperatures plummeting to almost -10C in the coldest places.
Overnight, the temperature plunged to almost -11C in Braemar in Aberdeenshire, making it the coldest morning of winter so far.
In the weeks ahead, Britons will need to wrap up and prepare for hazardous and brutal conditions similar to the ones that wreaked havoc for millions when the ‘Beast from the East’ hit in early 2018.
The Met Office has warned of freezing ‘radiation’ fog and harsh morning frosts as chilly weather grips the UK over the next few days.
Public health officials have issued a cold weather alert, saying the conditions could prove to be fatal.
A repeat of the ‘Beast from the East’ will bring extreme cold and bitter gales later this month, while heavy snow is expected within a fortnight.
Freezing temperatures are expected through January and into February.
In the short-term, the Met Office is telling Britons to expect freezing fog patches in the west and north-east on Thursday morning.
Temperatures plunged to almost -11C in Braemar in Scotland, -5C in parts of Wales and -3C in south-west England.
They will be followed by a mostly dry day with sunny spells and patchy cloud, but it will be cold.
It will be 5C in London and Cardiff, 3C in Edinburgh, and 7C in Belfast.
Thursday night will bring a risk of freezing fog and frost to England, Wales and eastern Scotland.
Once those patches clear on Friday, it will be sunny but cold, with some rain on western upslopes.
Similar conditions are likely at the weekend, with sunny spells and light winds during the day and frost and fog overnight.
In the long-term, some forecasters are expecting January to be colder than usual with a risk of widespread snowfall amid a triple polar vortex, the Express reports.
Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden said: “January is looking like a colder than average month overall, and we could see some of the lowest temperatures of winter so far during the next three weeks or so.
“There is also going to be a risk of widespread snowfall through the month, this is something we are keeping our eyes on.
“While February may be slightly less cold temperatures are expected to remain largely below-average and there will be an ongoing risk of snowfall through the run up to spring.”
In the north, many places will barely climb above the freezing mark during the day, and it will feel like -10C at night.
The return of extreme cold has prompted the Met Office and Public Health England to issue a level two cold weather alert for most of northern and central England.
It says: “This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.
“[It is] becoming cold generally from mid-week, but less cold conditions expected to spread to northern and eastern parts of England over the coming weekend.
“However, cold weather criteria may still be met in some central, southern, and southwestern areas over the weekend where any freezing fog patches are slow to clear.
“This may require the alert level being raised in these areas later this week.”
Met Office five-day forecast
Any freezing fog patches in the west and northeast will be slow to clear.
Otherwise it will be a mostly dry day, with sunny spells and patchy cloud, but it will be cold.
There will be variable cloud amounts tonight.
The clearest skies will be across England, Wales and eastern Scotland, where there will be a risk of frost and freezing fog.
Once the freezing fog patches clear, Friday will be sunny for many, but it will be cold, and there will be cloudier skies and some rain on western upslopes.
Saturday to Monday
Variable cloud, sunny spells and light winds this weekend, with areas of frost and fog overnight.
Some patchy rain at times too, and more unsettled in the north by Monday.