The Met Office issued five yellow snow and ice warnings across Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England, parts of Wales and eastern England this week. All warnings are expected to expire by 11.59pm on Thursday.
Temperatures are expected to be about 5C to 6C lower than usual for this time of year, with the Met Office warning the cold snap will wreak havoc on travel plans, trigger power cuts and cut off rural communities.
In Northern Ireland, snow is likely to wreak havoc on roads and railways on Monday and Tuesday morning. In England, the snow will sweep across northern England, Wales and even reach as far south as the Midlands on Tuesday.
Regions including Manchester, Newcastle and Derbyshire will see snow showers on Tuesday morning which the Met Office warns could cut off some rural communities and trigger power cuts across the nation.
The disruptive snow is expected to continue into Wednesday and Thursday in some of these areas including Yorkshire, the Midlands, Wales, northern Scotland and North West England.
On Wednesday, heavy and frequent snow showers are expected to return to northern areas, with 5cm of snow expected in many places.
“Temperatures will drop below freezing overnight, as cold as -5C or more in some rural areas. Temperatures might not get above freezing during the daytime in northern locations like Newcastle,” Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said on Monday.
“In areas further south, like Bristol and Plymouth, temperatures will reach about 4C or 5C but it will feel colder because of the wind chill.
“We’re expecting to see this pattern for the rest of the week. Snow is unpredictable, so it’s worth keeping an eye on forecasts.”
National Highways has issued a severe weather alert for snow affecting the North West on Tuesday, with road users advised to plan ahead, and some rural communities warned they could be temporarily cut off.
Amy Fellows, national network manager at National Highways, said: “Freezing conditions bring so many hazards such as snow and ice, so take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow lots of extra time when travelling to prepare for the unexpected.”
National Rail has warned the wintry weather could affect train journeys all week.
The RAC said it expected Monday to be its busiest day of the winter so far for vehicle breakdowns.
Spokesman Rod Dennis said: “We’re on course for our busiest day for breakdowns of the winter so far as thousands of drivers up and down the country discover their cars won’t start as a result of the low temperatures; in fact, at our peak today our teams will handle around 20 new breakdowns every minute.”
The Artic blast has also triggered a Cold-Health Alert by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which highlights the significant impact the weather has on health and social care.
Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, said: “The temperatures we will see leading into the weekend can rapidly have a serious impact on the health of those over the age of 65 and those with pre-existing health conditions as it increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections. It is therefore vital to check in on friends, family and neighbours to ensure they are well prepared for the cold weather next week.”