BRITAIN is being thrown back in the freezer today as temperatures plummet by as much as 15C – with snow forecast in parts.
After record-breaking February weather, highs of 21C on Tuesday are today being followed by single-figure temperatures and heavy rain as the forecast takes a dreary turn.
And next week, weather maps show there will be widespread snow cover – with up to 5cm due to fall on Thursday March 3.
The whole of Scotland will be covered in the white stuff with the north of England, West Midlands and North wales also blanketed.
But first, Brits will have to endure heavy rain and thick cloud across most parts today – as well as a dusting of snow in parts.
The Met Office said: “Fog patches will linger at first, particularly in Northern Ireland.
“Morning sunshine is likely in eastern England. It will be cooler and cloudier than recently, and breezier in the south.
“Showery rain, possibly heavy, will spread from Wales into England.”
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Met Office meteorologist Bonnie Diamond told The Sun Online: “We are seeing a change in weather over the next 24 hours.
“High pressure has brought mild temperatures and dry weather to the UK but as we speak the high pressure is breaking down.
“We will have a return to westerly winds and low pressure typical for this time of year.
“So it won’t be as warm as it has been this week and there will be spells of rain and wind.
“With the switchback to westerly mobiles, there is a chance some areas could see some hill snow.”
Next week will see the shift in temperatures kick into a higher gear.
Ms Diamond added: “From Monday there’s a chance northern parts of the countries will see snow and sleet in hilly areas.
“As we lose the warmer temperatures, areas over high ground can become cold enough for snow to form.”
Britain basked in its hottest winter day on record on Tuesday when the mercury hit 21.2C (69.4F) in Kew Gardens, London.
But the incredibly warm weather saw a huge blaze breaking out on the side of a mountain in Betws Yn Rhos in North Wales.
Firefighters also had to battle a wildfire which had broken out at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, best known as the setting of A.A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
Huge fires also broke out in Edinburgh and crews were battling a fierce blaze in Saddleworth Moor late into Tuesday.
The high of 21.2C followed a record of 20.6C (68.5F) at Trawsgoed in Ceredigion, West Wales, on Monday, which beat the previous high in 1998 of 19.7C (67.4F) in Greenwich, south-east London.
Mr Burkill said temperatures will cool slightly today, but remain in the mid-teens, with a chance of heavy showers.
“Those (showers will be) most widespread in the south and west and some of those could be quite heavy, maybe even the odd rumble of thunder mixed in,” he said.
Friday and Saturday are expected to be largely dry but cloudy with the chance of a few scattered showers.
Mr Burkill added: “For many Saturday is not looking too bad but a weather system is likely to come in, affecting particularly northern parts of the UK.”
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Experts have said climate change has played a role in the unusually warm February temperatures.
Met Office climate spokesman Grahame Madge said: “Climate change has made what would have already been an extremely warm event even warmer and is probably responsible for tipping it over the 20C threshold.”
Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said the temperatures were “consistent with the clear climate change signal that we are seeing in the UK”.
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