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The ferocious storm system stalking the North Sea will split in two before smashing the UK to unleash a three-day assault. It will follow an increasingly volatile week as unsettled conditions sweep in from the Atlantic on the jet stream
Temperatures will swing from unseasonably mild through the middle of the week to bitter cold at the weekend.
Foul weather at the weekend will be driven by a deep low-pressure system, or ‘cyclone’, edging towards the northwest of the country.
Jim Dale, meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: “This is a double-barrelled low, or a dumbbell low, so called because it appears to split into two separate systems which will then affect the UK weather one after the other.
“This appears to be quite a big low at the moment, and we could get two hits from this during what is shaping up to be quite an active weekend.
“Depending on timelines developments in the Atlantic, parts of the country will be dodging the bullet into the weekend when this system arrives.”
Unsettled weather will continue into the start of next week driven by an unusually powerful jet stream.
While the main blight will be the wind and rain, cold Arctic air will spill over the north raising the snow threat.
Mr Dale, author of ‘Weather Or Not?’, said: “There will be a risk of snow across Scotland as the jet stream meanders and brings down the Polar front, which is the boundary between cold air to the north and more temperate conditions to the south.
“The cold temperatures at the weekend could be one of the main elements of this latest development in the weather.
“This will be a three-day system bringing rain on Saturday, rain on Sunday, and then the cold air which will move in behind into the start of next week.”
Meanwhile, forecasters warn of a wet and windy run-up to the weekend with heavy downpours putting swathes of the country at risk of floods.
The Environment Agency has issued 57 flood alerts and 17 flood warnings across Britain while the Met Office last night extended a raft of rain warnings into the early hours of today.
Further unsettled weather is forecast through the week as Atlantic weather systems arrive on the back of a furious jet stream.
Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern warned the weather this weekend will ‘pack a punch’ with lively showers and wind.
He said: “On Thursday, the rain turns more heavy and persistent across parts of Scotland and the breeze will be picking up.
“The wind is going to get even stronger on Thursday night with the risk of gales in places and it brings rain with it.
“Low pressure is well and truly in charge at the weekend, with blustery showers and strong winds, but with the wind coming from the southwest that wind will bring warmth.
“By Sunday, low pressure migrates towards Scotland, and it will pull in colder and more unstable air from the southwest.”
Temperatures will rise through the latter part of the week before dipping after the weekend, he added.
“There will be some very mild air coming our way from the Atlantic over the next few days,” he said.
“Temperatures at dawn will be at double figures in parts of the UK, and very mild in the south and higher in Scotland than they have been so far.”
The stormy outlook has prompted bookmaker Ladbrokes to slash the odds from 5-1 to 2-1 on the wettest January on record.
Spokeswoman Nicola McGeady said: “The rainy start to the New Year seems to have dampened the spirit of punters, with money flooding in on a record-breaking month of rain.”
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