Today saw Britain wake up to widespread frost, with strong winds and up half a foot snow. This was after overnight temperatures dropped to -8C.

A band of heavy rain moved east across the UK this morning, before it is set to turn wintry over the Pennines, Lake District and North York Moors – with snow forecast from Derbyshire and Staffordshire northwards.

Thundersnow – A thunderstorm that creates snow, instead of rain – is also possible. This happens because the temperatures between the cold front approaching the ground and the ground being warmed up by unseasonable temperatures. 

It follows England’s coldest winter night so far. Topcliffe, North Yorkshire was -8C (16.6F), Benson, Oxfordshire at -6.6C (20.1F), London Gatwick Airport at -5.4C (22.3F).

Two weather alerts have been issued by the Met Office for snow. One runs between 10am and 4:00pm today, and one from 8pm tonight until 11:00 tomorrow. Both cover most of Scotland as well as northern England.

Forecasters stated that snowfall will be widespread in many locations, and this could lead to dangerous travel conditions due to the accumulation of slush and subsequent freezing.

Snow on the ground at daybreak near Leyburn in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, this morning

This morning, snow fell on the ground near Leyburn, Wensleydale in North Yorkshire.

A frost covered landscape shortly after sunrise at Richmond Park in South West London today on a very cold winter morning

On a cold morning in winter, a frost-covered landscape at Richmond Park, South West London.

Frost on the ground in the Surrey village of Woldingham this morning as temperatures fell well below freezing overnight

Frost on the ground in the Surrey village of Woldingham this morning as temperatures fell well below freezing overnight

Frost on a garden in South East London this morning after temperatures fell below zero overnight

This morning, South East London’s temperatures plunged below zero overnight and snowed on the garden.

A frosty start to the morning in London today after overnight temperatures fell to as low as -8C in parts of England

Today’s morning was frosty in London, after temperatures overnight dropped as low as -8C.

At 650ft, snow accumulations of between 1in (2.75cm), and 2in (5cm), and 4in (10cm to 6in (15cm), are likely. Forecasters said that trains and buses could experience disruptions, along with ‘brief’ power interruptions.

The Met Office stated that lower levels of snow can cause temporary slushy accumulations, which may then freeze, and may lead to dangerous, icy patches. However, the Met Office noted that it is possible for skies to remain clear long enough.

Thundersnow: What does it mean?

Although thunder and lightning tend to be more common in warmer climates than they are in colder, there is no denying that it can happen. 

Thundersnow begins as a thunderstorm. The sun heats ground, pushing masses of moist, warm air up, creating unstable air columns. 

It rises and the moisture forms clouds. These clouds are then jostled with internal turbulence. This rubbing of clouds against one another is what causes lightning. Thunder is the sound that thunder makes, but sound travels slower than light so we can hear it later. 

Thundersnow’s tricky side is the atmospheric instability that winter brings. The lower atmosphere, especially when it’s cold, is very stable and dry. 

Thundersnow can only occur if there are certain conditions. For example, the layer closest to the ground must be slightly warmer than those above it but cold enough not to cause snow.

This causes warm air to rise and snow to fall simultaneously. Thunder, lightning, and snow are all possible when this occurs.

Winds may gust around heavier showers. There is also the possibility of lightning strikes in isolated thunderstorms.

Lightning strikes could occur in isolated thunderstorms along the coast. 

Grahame Madge from the Met Office said areas that are in danger of disruption could be found at heights above 650ft.

Mr Madge said the wintry weather could include ‘thundersnow’ – a thunderstorm that produces snow instead of rain.

The temperature differential between the cold front from the west and the ground warming up is what causes this.

Tomorrow morning will be a dry, sunny day.

Madge said, “We had subtropical air last weekend in charge. This gave us a record breaking New Year. You must remember that this is winter.

“We don’t expect huge amounts of snowfall, but we do have the potential to see significant accumulations at certain locations.”

The forecasters predict that this morning’s low will be -12C (10F), around Aviemore, Invernessshire.

Madge added: “Into Thursday morning the temperatures will drop almost everywhere, and we might see places such as Aviemore falling to -10C or -12C (10F)”.

“The weather front from the West is bringing in snow, which brings moisture-laden air with very strong winds. 

“As this moisture is converted to cold air above Scotland, it will cause snowfall.”

According to Met Office, the weather will remain milder through Saturday.

The Met Office has issued a series of weather warnings for snow and ice across Scotland and northern England

A series of Met Office weather warnings has been issued for the northern parts of England and Scotland.

Madge stated that a new frontal system was moving through the UK from Friday to Saturday. It’s likely that it will bring more rain.

“By Saturday and through the weekend, any wintry rains are likely just over the higher summits and fallss.

This follows Saturday’s UK’s warmest New Year’s Day when St James’s Park, London, registered 16.3C (61.3F), surpassing the Bude, Cornwall record of 15.6C (60.1F), set over a century ago.

It happened after the country had its mildest New Year’s Eve ever recorded, with Merryfield in Somerset reaching 15.8C (60.4F) last Friday. This beats the previous record of 14.8C (58.6F), set in Colwyn Bay in North Wales in 2011.