A blast of Arctic air is forcing temperatures to plummet so low that some parts of the UK will be colder than the Antarctic and Arctic Circles.
While British beaches and parks are normally springing into life at around time of year, most will be either too cold or too wet to visit.
According to the Met Office forecast, there will be a north-south divide until next week. While the north will be drier, temperatures will be well below the average for May, while the south will be slightly warmer but wetter.
This weekend, London and the south will see highs of around 19C, with heavy rain throughout. Meanwhile, in the Cairngorms National Park Scotland, temperatures of -3C are forecast, with some sunny spells. The north east of England will see temperatures struggling to get into double figures.
Tourists make the most of a brief sunny spell in Wales/PA
May's normal temperatures reach 16C, but the mercury will struggle to get into double figures in the north, with highs of just 9C predicted.
Gloucester earlier this month/Getty
While temperatures reached -5C in Scotland and -1C in Dorset, the Arctic town of Berlevag, one of Europe's most northerly settlements, experienced temperatures of 16C this week, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.
And the long-term outlook is not looking any better. The Met Office forecasts that although the beginning of June may be more settled, there are signs of cooler more unsettled weather further into the month.
Ten brand new summer flight routes to beautiful spots
Summer? What summer? Britain "colder than the Antarctic"
Iceland’s increasing popularity for Northern Lights tours triggered this new budget route to Keflavik (45 minutes from vibrant, pub-filled Reykjavík), and 20 minutes from Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon geothermal waters. Add in stunning scenery including geysers and whale-watching trips.
WOW Air launch a new route on 1 June from Stansted to Keflavik, returns from £69 wowair.is.
Beyond Ibiza’s club scene and its cobbled old town - a Unesco World Heritage site - you’ll find stunning beach coves, sleepy inland villages and varied accommodation from chic boutique hotels to restored rural farmhouses. Ryanairlaunched a new route from Stansted to Ibiza on March 26, 2012. Returns from £45.98.
A favourite sunspot for Brits, the western port town of Paphos in Cyprus with two of the most revered archeological sites in the Med - the 13th-century Castle of Paphos and the intricately tiled House of Dionysus. Ryanair launches a new route from Stansted to Paphos on May 2 2012. Returns from £79. 98.
Fuertventura is the second largest Canary Island characterised by vast sand dunes and miles of white, sandy beaches and secluded coves. Inland are white washed buildings and a desert-like landscape. Easyjet launched a new route from Gatwick to Fuerteventura on March 28 2012. Returns from £71.58.
Exuding history and atmosphere by the bucket load - piazzas (and authentic pizzas), museums, designer stores, the Colosseum, the touristy but essential Spanish Steps and the Vatican... Monarch launched a new route to from Luton to Rome on March 25, 2012. Returns from £76.
With the feel of rural France and the charm of the British seaside, Jersey is the largest Channel Island, just off the coast of Normandy. There's a surprising amount to discover from surf pounding seas, pristine beaches, luxury spas and seriously good food. EasyJet launches a new route from Southend to Jersey on May 2. Returns from £42.98.
Set facing the Med on the Bay of Angles, Nice is the capital of the Cote d’Azur. The old town itself has colourful cobbled streets, galleries and restaurants, plus there’s the Matisse Museum and the famous Promenade des Anglais. An hour along the coast lies glitzy Cannes, famed for its spotlight-hogging festival from 16-26 May this year.British Airways launches a new route from Gatwick to Nice on March 25, with returns from £99.
For a lovely throwback to well-trodden tourist destinations, the Faroe Islands lie northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. Set in the heart of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic, the summer months are the time for festivals throughout the archipelago with the Festival of St Olaf in Tórshavn livening things up from 28-29 July. Atlantic Airwayslaunches a new route from Gatwick to Vagar in the Faroe Islands on May 31. From £208 return.
Increasing numbers of tourists are exploring the delightfully undeveloped Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Historic ruins, amazing food, wine and unspoilt beaches abound due to the history that has shaped this complex and divided island. Atlasjetlaunches daily flights from Stansted to Ercan (via Istanbul six days a week, via Antalya on Saturdays) on May 5, returns from £168.
Vancouver, Canada’s most westerly metropolis, mixes a dynamic high-rise skyline and with beaches backed by forest such as at sprawling Stanley Park. Vancouver island is famous for whale watching but for people watching hit the numerous coffee shops. Virgin Atlantic launches a new route from Heathrow to Vancouver on May 24 2012. Returns from £599,