A so-called Siberian snowbomb could hit Britain and blanket much of the country with snow amid a brutal deep freeze, some forecasts claim.
There are concerns this winter could see a repeat of the deadly 2006 European cold wave which saw temperatures plummet well below zero across Britain.
An Arctic blast threatens to grip the UK next week with several spells of heavy snow to follow from the middle of the month – sparking fears of travel chaos and miserable conditions lasting weeks.
Unusually cold weather could hold out through February with lengthy spells of wintry conditions that could creep into meteorological spring.
Temperatures are expected to nosedive across Britain at the end of next week as cold air sweeps in from the north-east, according to weather forecasters, which described the wintry conditions as a “Siberian snowbomb”.
Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden said: “Currently there are signs of a significant snow event just after the middle of January with another possible towards the end of the month.
“There are likely to be further lengthy, cold and wintry spells early in the year with temperatures for the month as a whole expected to come in below average.
“Unusually cold weather could hold out through February, which threatens further harsh winter conditions including snowfall, and into the meteorological spring.”
Some forecasters say this year’s winter shows similarities to that of 2005/06, which saw the European cold wave bring brutal conditions from the UK to Russia for weeks.