Icy winds and plunging temperatures will make the end of March feel more like January, forecasters have warned, as the clocks go forward to mark the start of British Summer Time.
Widespread sunshine and mid-teen highs will give way to single digit chills between tonight and the start of next week, as a blast of cold air sweeps the UK.
Parts of the country are already seeing the mercury drop below freezing overnight, with the Oxfordshire village of South Newington recording a low of -5.3C between Wednesday and Thursday, the Met Office reported.
A cold and frosty start greeted swathes of England and Wales this morning, but blue skies and springtime warmth will develop throughout the course of the day.
— Met Office (@metoffice)March 26, 2020
Tonight will be chilly across the UK as temperatures dip to around freezing, with 2C highs expected in London, according to BBC meteorologist Ben Rich.
Friday will remain largely bright and sunny, with highs of around 14C in the capital, before “a plunge of cold air from the north” blows brisk and strong winds across most of England and Wales on Saturday, Mr Rich said.
On Sunday, “it will feel really chilly for all of us,” he warned, with a risk of wintry showers pushing southwards into the afternoon.
Top temperatures will be no more than between 6-9C, the forecaster predicted – meaning staying at home might start to feel a little more appealing.
It comes as climate scientists call on Brits to help transcribe 65,000 pages of rainfall data during the coronavirus lockdown.
The Rainfall Rescue project aims to digitise records from before 1960, which currently only exist in paper form scanned by the Met Office, and go back as far as 1820.
There are four million measurements to input from weather stations from every corner of the UK, with people invited to log on to a specially-created website to help with the mammoth task.
Professor Ed Hawkins, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, said: “I think given the present circumstances we might well find more volunteers who are looking for distractions and are able to help
“I certainly feel a little bit overwhelmed at the moment and want to have a distraction, something useful to do and this would be very useful to help climate scientists better understand the wonderful British weather.
“You can either sit and binge-watch Netflix, and that’s very necessary, but it would also be great if people could help us out with projects like this.”