An early weather warning has been issued across the UK as experts forecast months of heavy snow in what is expected to be the worst winter in half-a-century.
A combination of freak conditions, including the most powerful El Nino on record, and changes in air pressure over the Arctic are set to contribute to the icy conditions.
The forecast shows snow is expected to start falling in December and continue until March, although the earliest snowfall could arrive by early November.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said the first flakes of snow could arrive in just three weeks.
He said: “It is likely to turn significantly colder from mid-October onwards.
“This is likely to bring the first significant snow of winter above higher ground in parts of Scotland.
“Some potentially wintry showers could develop in some other parts of the country during the evening or overnight when temperatures will dip to some quite chilly values with the strong influence of some cool northerly winds.
“The cold winds will allow it to be more settled, but during some periods of showers or unsettled weather we could see some wintry showers developing in places, particularly in some rural parts of the country.
“Some much lower levels of the country could see some very early wintry showers or their first flakes of snow during the latter part of October and into November.”
The Met Office is predicting above-average winter precipitation this year meaning heavy snow is on the way if the cold does set in as feared.
Its three-month outlook states: “For October-November-December precipitation is more likely to above-average than below-average.
“The probability that UK precipitation for October-November-December will fall into the driest of our five categories is 15 per cent and the probability that it will fall into the wettest of our five categories is 35 per cent.”