Parts of the UK are bracing for ‘thundersnow’ with showers and lightening strikes expected to knock homes off the power grid.
The Met Office has warned of dangerous weather conditions over the next two days, when as much as 10cm of snow could falling on the highest ground.
There is also a risk of dangerous icy patches and of lightning strikes from isolated thunderstorms, according to forecasters.
A yellow weather warning for snow and ice has been issued covering most of Scotland and Northern England.
The alert is set to be in place at 8pm on Thursday until 11am on Friday and stretches along Glasgow, the east of Scotland and into the north of England beyond Manchester to Staffordshire in the West Midlands.
The Met Office has warned of the potential of power supplies being knocked out by lightning strikes.
It has also issued a separate snow warning beginning earlier on Thursday, which stretches from the Highlands, through Glasgow and Edinburgh, and into the north of England, and warned of disruption to roads.
It said many areas would see one to two hours of snow, with a risk of temporary slushy accumulations above 100-150m, leading to difficult travel conditions.
On higher routes, forecasters have predicted strong winds could lead to drifting and temporary blizzard conditions.
Grahame Madge, spokesman at the Met Office, said: ‘We have got an area of high pressure across the UK, that will remain in situ until the early hours of tomorrow morning. Then we will start to see the weather front coming in.
‘As conditions get cold tonight, we’re seeing temperatures drop down to freezing quite widely.
‘As we get the cold air, that will bring the temperatures right down, we’ve got the weather front coming in from the west and that moisture is going to bump into the cold air and where you get that you will get snow.’
The forecaster added that the prospect of thundersnow was driven by the same conditions which cause thunder in the summer – the difference in temperature between the ground and the air surrounding it.
However rather than hail or rain falling alongside the thunder, snow will be the primary precipitation.
Mr Madge said: ‘Because you have got that differential it’s possible, quite easily, for warm air at ground level when it heats up to start to rise very quickly up through the cold air and that’s what creates the potential for thunderstorms, so we are likely to see along with the other wintery showers, likely to see hail and snow.