Britain set for coldest weekend of year

Walker In Hampstead Heath, UK

Britons are set to kick off the festive season with parties or gatherings this weekend but the chilly weather isn't going to leave them in a merry mood.

The first weekend of the meteorological winter season is poised to be one of the coldest of the year, with temperatures dipping as low as -5C in parts of the country on Saturday night.

See also: Will it be a white Christmas 2016?

See also: Best value breaks to escape the British winter

Forecasters are predicting harsh frosts and freezing morning fog on Sunday, although it will be slightly milder than the past few days.

Consider it the calm before the storm, however, as experts warn chaotic weather will return next week as heavy rain and gales sweep in from the Atlantic.

After a nationwide split brought the coldest weather to the south, the whole country will feel winter bite this weekend.

Temperatures are forecast to be around zero with a risk of frost and patchy fog; Saturday's daytime highs struggle to get into high single figures.

There will be patchy rain in the west and southwest.

Sunday will remain cold and bring a chance of gales along the coasts.

Met Office spokeswoman Nicola Maxey said: "There is a cold front coming in at the weekend and although it will be fairly dry there may be a few showers.

Sheep in a field, morning frost .

"Sunday is a similar day with perhaps the risk of freezing fog in places overnight and it is turing a bit more wet and windy with the chance of gales along the coasts."

As we go into next week it is turning milder but more unsettled as our weather starts to come in off the Atlantic.

"There is a risk of gales in parts of the country with rain spreading across the UK and we have more wet and windy weather on the way from mid-week.

"By the middle of next week parts of Britain, including London and the southeast, are likely to see daytime highs warmer than 10C.

Meanwhile, bookmakers have slashed the odds on a white Christmas.

Coral is offering 6-1 from 7-1 on snow flurries in London with 10-11 on the coldest winter on record.

Spokesman John Hill said: "The cold freeze has prompted a huge gamble on this being the coldest winter on record in the UK which is now odds-on following the support in the betting.

"We have seen more money for a white Christmas this year than we ever have before as punters are convinced we are set for snowfall on Christmas Day."

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