Freak 'thundersnow' may unleash travel chaos as 15cm of snow dumping is on the horizon for Brits.
A chilly start to the year is set to continue as forecasters expect temperatures to dive to -9C in parts of the UK while snow threatens to cause major travel disruption.
Yellow warnings for snow and ice have been issued by the Met Office for northern England, western Scotland, and Northern Ireland for Friday and Saturday.
The national forecaster expects up to 15cm of snowfall in some areas north of the border on Saturday, while data from independent WXCharts shows two separate waves of snow set to land across the nation this weekend.
Some have speculated the current weather conditions could unleash a rare 'thundersnow' phenomenon in the British Isles, which sees snow accompanied by thunder and lightning in the same way it usually occurs with rain.
Discussing the possibility of the freak weather event, Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge told Sky News: "Because you have got that differential it's possible, quite easily, for warm air at ground level when it heats up to start to rise very quickly up through the cold air."
He added: "That's what creates the potential for thunderstorms, so we are likely to see along with the other wintery showers, likely to see hail and snow."
The official Met Office forecast for Friday reads: "Windy and cold with further wintry showers and also some sunny intervals, whilst a spell of rain, hill snow and strong winds affects parts of the south-west for a time."
Temperatures have been bitterly chilly in the UK this week, marking a dramatic turn from the 'warmest ever' New Year's Day last Saturday.
The mercury dropped all the way down to -8C at Topcliffe in North Yorkshire overnight on Thursday, making it the coldest night of the entire winter.
The record coldest temperature ever recorded in the UK occurred on 10 January 1982, when a frosty -27.2 C was registered in Braemar, East Scotland.
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