Driven in part by a collapse of the Polar Vortex– a mass of freezing air circulating over the North Pole – Gaetan will follow hot on the heels of Christoph which has crippled parts of the country with torrential rain and floods.
Gaetan, named by Spain’s State Meteorological Agency, will pass through the North Sea into Norway today clipping the UK and pulling a swathe of -15C polar air down from the Arctic into the weekend.
It will rapidly deepen through a process of explosive cyclogenesis as it passes into Scandinavia through the coming hours, experts warn.
Marko Korosec, forecaster for Severe Weather Europe, said: “The greatest effects will begin on Thursday as the low deepens. And strengthens even more through Friday into Saturday.
“Northerly winds in the wake of the deep low will also bring snow to Scotland.
“A good amount of snow is also possible across northern England, as well as some fresh snow also in higher elevations across Wales.
“The greatest impact by the winter storm Gaetan will hit the UK and Ireland through Wednesday into early Thursday when the system rather explosively strengthens, emerging into the North Sea.”
Gaetan will strengthen as it travels past Britain and into Scandinavia whipping up 90-mph gales in the North Sea.
While it is expected to hit northern Europe the hardest, it will drag Britain’s weather through the wringer into the weekend and herald the start of another cold snap.
Mr Korosec said: “The size of this deep depression over western Europe will be quite large, so its effect will actually dominate a large part of Europe.
“As the winter storm strengthens across the North Sea on Thursday, the intensifying winds will introduce blizzard and blowing snow conditions.
“As an effect of the Polar Vortex collapse through early January, the weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere are changing dramatically over the past two weeks.”
The Met Office has warnings for snow and rain in force across Scotland, northern and north-western Britain through today.
Alerts for snow and rain will remain across Scotland tomorrow with up to eight inches possible over high ground.
Government forecasters are warning severe weather threatens travel disruption, power cuts and delays on the roads.
Heavy snow and blizzards in some regions could lead to rural communities being cut off, a spokesman said.
He added: “Heavy snow and strong winds will bring blizzard conditions in places leading to travel disruption on Thursday and Friday morning.
“Snow accumulations of 5 to 10 cm are possible at low-levels whilst 10-20 cm snow is likely above around 200 metres.”
Britain will be plunged back into the freezer this weekend as Arctic winds send the mercury plummeting below -10C in parts.
Weather models show ground temperatures of -12C in Scotland with lows of between -3C and -6C elsewhere.
Wind chill charts reveal ‘feel-like’ temperatures in Polar gusts will nudge -15C in the far north of Britain with lows of around -7C in central England.
Jim Dale, meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: “The polar front will be to the south of the UK towards the weekend bringing polar maritime air into the country.
“We are expecting a return to the wintry flow by the time we get to Friday.
“There will be standard snow events unfolding from Thursday onwards into the weekend.”
Heavy snowfall threatens to cripple parts of Britain, particularly northern regions, through the rest of this month and into February.
However, early there are early signs of milder conditions setting in later next month, according to some long-range forecasts.
Exacta Weather’s James Madden said: “Some of this snow will be at least be several feet deep in places, and parts of the north could see lasting snow.
“We also expect further widespread frosts and widespread dense freezing fog patches for many.
“Even February, which we expect to be less cold, will still see the grip of winter trying to hold on.
“However, the month is likely to see some rather interchangeable weather patterns as the first of any major mild weather pushes in off the Atlantic.”
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