Polar vortex threatens most savagely cold December in Britain for over a decade

A first cold weather alert of the winter has been issued as Arctic air threatens to spread freezing temperatures across the UK.

Brits have been told to “take action” in order to be prepared for temperatures that could fall as low as -15C in the Scottish Highlands, where up to four inches of snow is forecast to fall in the coming days.

The freezing temperatures have been forecast to last until mid-December, prompting warnings of dangerous travel conditions and icy pavements.

READ MORE: Snow set to blast Brits as 'Troll of Trondheim' to bring freezing temps tomorrow

The elderly and vulnerable should take extra care, with others encouraged to keep an eye on neighbours during the cold snap.

People should also make sure they have plenty of food in stock in case going to the shop becomes difficult.

Jim Dale, a meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: “This is not about panicking, but being ready and prepared in the run-up to Christmas. It is important to make sure you are stocked up for the cold weather to prevent a panic when it happens.

“This is especially important this close to Christmas and with other factors that could leave shelves not very well stocked during the cold period.

“There will be hazards in parts of the country in terms of snowfall and ice on the roads and pavements. This will bring the risk of slipping and will make for dangerous driving conditions.

“The key is to be prepared for if this comes off and do things a little bit ahead of time.”

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning across Grampian, the Highlands, Orkney and Shetland, and Central Tayside and Fife.

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Severe cold weather could hamper railway services and other travel networks while triggering delays on the roads.

The Met Office with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a level three ‘severe weather action’ alert which will stay in force from today (December 7) until Monday (December 12).

Dr Agostinho Sousa, consultant in public health medicine at UKHSA, said: “Cold weather can have serious consequences for health, and older people and those with heart or lung conditions can be particularly at risk.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should heat your home to a temperature that is comfortable for you.”

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Rebekah Sherwin added: “Temperatures will start to dip this week, with daytime temperatures struggling to get above freezing in many places from mid-week onwards.

“However, the cold air from the Arctic will also bring brighter conditions, with some dry, sunny spells in many areas, particularly away from the coast.”

Netweather meteorologist Nick Finnis warned a “chunk of the tropospheric Polar vortex” will “drip south towards the UK bringing Arctic air”.

He said: “Winds will turn northerly by mid-week and will introduce colder air from the arctic across all parts through the second half of the week.”

As temperatures plummet, bookies have once more slashed the odds on festive snow with Ladbrokes offering 11-10 from 6-4 on a White Christmas.

Spokesman Alex Apati said: "White Christmas punters look set to get their wish this year, if the latest odds are anything to go by."

The last time Britain was hit by heavy snow in December was 2010 which also brought the last widespread White Christmas.


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