The most severe snowfall since 2010 could bring transport networks to a standstill while brutal cold will cause roads and pavements to ice-over.
Supercooled rain will instantly freeze as it hits the ground triggering a so-called glaze effect – more common in the United States affected areas become blanketed in deadly inch-thick sheets of ice.
The phenomenon – also referred to as an ice storm – can tear down tree branches and power cables as huge clumps of ice form in seconds.
The last time the UK was hit was in January 2010 when roads and pavements turned into lethal ice rinks overnight.
January 2017 forecast: Snow is set to hit parts of the UK
Freezing air will drop in from the arctic sending temperatures across Britain tumbling
Emergency services around the country were stretched to the limit dealing with crashes and falls on the roads.
Britain will turn colder towards the end of next week (Thursday, January 5) before the month-long freeze tightens its grip through the second week of January.
Piers Corbyn, forecaster for WeatherAction, warned to brace for a spell of disruptive and potentially dangerous weather.
He said bitter hurricane-force winds, blizzards and plunging temperatures threaten travel chaos and power outages across Britain.
He said: “The start of January will be mostly bright although it will get colder with snow in the north and east.
“Towards the second half the month extreme cold will develop with bitter gales which could be damaging at times and blizzards across all parts which will then become limited to the Midlands and eastern England.
Britain could expect the coldest winter in six years
“It will remain very cold until the end of January with further northeasterly gales – temperatures for January are likely to come in well below normal.”
He warned fluctuating temperatures will cause snow to melt and rapidly re-freeze turning swathes of Britain into ‘ice rinks’.
Supercooled rain – rain which drops below freezing while falling but remains in liquid form until it hits the ground – will also be a risk, he added.
He said: “Because of the wild fluctuations of the jet stream we are expecting through the month there will be wild changes in temperatures.
Temperatures are set to plummet in January 2017
“We could also see supercooled rain freeze on contact with the ground forming large sheets of ice.”
Worrying maps show a huge plume of numbing air sweeping in from the North Pole towards the end of next week.
Thermometers will nosedive to -15C in the far north of Scotland with the whole country dipping below freezing overnight.
The mercury will hover around the -5C mark through the day in the north while elsewhere struggles to get much above 2C or 3C.
While most of the country will see the first proper snowfall for years, Scotland and coastal regions of England and Wales will bear the brunt of it.
The most severe snowfall since 2010 could bring transport networks to a standstill
In a terrifying similarity to this winter the 2010 snowstorms set in during the second week in January as temperatures plummeted to -17.6C in greater Manchester.
Britain was hit by travel chaos, school closures, cancellation of major events and power failures while extreme weather claimed 25 lives.
Severe winter weather persisted through much of January before slightly milder temperatures triggered a long-awaited thaw.
The following winter brought the coldest December since records began in 2010 with an average temperature of -1C beating the 0.1C 1981 record.
Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden said Britain faces relentless bouts of heavy snow through January.
He said a bitter plunge from the north could bring a new winter low temperature beating the -12C recorded in Braemar, Scotland, at the start of winter.
He said: “Many northern areas are at risk of rain turning to heavy snow and even parts as far south as Central England could be at risk of some snow.
“This will pave the way for a much colder weather pattern into January, which is also likely to be accompanied by potential snow event after snow event with the coldest temperatures of the winter to date.”
Weather models show a plume of freezing air starting to sink over the north of Scotland next Thursday before engulfing the country by the weekend.
Culled from Express