BRITAIN is braced for the “worst winter in decades” with the first major snowfall expected in weeks.
Forecasters last night warned the entire country is set for a horror freeze which will bring brutal winds and fierce blizzards.
Temperatures have already started to plunge as a swathe of cold air from the Arctic has swept across the UK in the past few days.
The first long-range forecasts warn of “recordbreaking snowfall” next month.
Heavy wintry showers are expected to cause widespread chaos with below-average temperatures possibly lingering until February.
Long-range forecasters blamed the position of a fast-flowing band of air known as the jet stream near to Britain and high pressure for the extreme conditions. Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: ‘We are looking at a potentially paralysing winter, the worst for decades, which could at times grind the nation to a halt.
‘Persistent cold snaps with some very heavy snowfall are likely, and I would not be surprised if some records are not broken this year.
‘The main issue will be the extreme cold which is showing signs of really bedding in, thanks to freezing winds from the north.”
He blamed the ‘poorly positioned” jet stream which is expected to be ‘blocked” south of the UK, allowing a continual flow of freezing Arctic air.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said it was likely to be the worst winter for more than 100 years.
He said: ‘A horror winter scenario is likely to bring another big freeze with copious snow for many parts.
‘There is also a high risk that we will experience a scenario similar to December 2010 or much worse at times, especially in January.
‘This is likely to produce major disruption to public transport and school closures on a prolific scale.”
He went on: ‘The cold theme from the latter part of October is likely to continue into November – and for the vast majority of the month.
‘November could turn out to be a record-breaking month. There is the potential for some significant falls of snow. The northern half is likely to experience the worst conditions.
Onlookers are dwarfed by 30ft waves yesterday at Headland Pier, Hartlepool [NORTH NEWS]
Persistent cold snaps with some very heavy snowfall are likely, and I would not be surprised if some records are not broken this year.
Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services
The forecast of a harsh winter comes amid fears that millions of pensioners will face an ‘eat or heat” dilemma this year as energy prices are set to rocket by up to 10 per cent.
Households in some areas have all ready been forced to crank up the heating in near-freezing conditions.
Government forecasters said overnight temperatures over the next few days will hover close to freezing in the North with the South in single figures.
Severe storms are thought to have caused the deaths of two people yesterday. A man was killed on the A350 near Trowbridge, Wiltshire, while a driver died when his Jeep spun off the A35 near Bournemouth.
Bad weather also led to ferry delays between Dover and Calais. During the storms, several tons of scaffolding collapsed in Great Yarmouth and trees came down in Essex.
The Met Office is warning of more heavy rain this weekend, with more than an inch in some areas, especially in the South. It issued a severe weather warning for the region today.
A spokesman said: ‘Heavy rain is likely to continue into the weekend. Most of the wet weather stays in the South-east, East Anglia and the East Midlands. It is likely to feel cold, especially in areas of rainfall.”
A harsh winter is expected for the UK again this year