The UK looks set to be hit with “severe” gales, rain and possible snow as it heads into the week of the general election.
With colder-than-average temperatures and unsettled conditions expected at the end of next week, forecasters said snow is increasingly likely “the further north you go” between Wednesday and Friday 13 December.
Rain has battered western Scotland this week, where a yellow weather warning remains in place until Friday lunchtime, and the Met Office said the generally “settled” conditions elsewhere look set to change, starting on Thursday.
Frosty mornings and sunshine are expected to be replaced with blustery rain, prompting flood warnings in Scotland and England.
Of the four flood warnings currently issued by the Environment Agency, Gloucestershire could see issues due to an excess of groundwater left over from the extreme rainfall of autumn, while in the northeast, high tides and breached rivers are responsible for the increased risk.
By the end of the weekend, conditions are set to worsen, with the advent of strong winds, colder temperatures and possible flurries of snow in Scotland’s Highlands and islands.
“On Sunday, unfortunately, we’re going to see some strong winds and blustery showers, and we could see severe gales in parts of the southwest, through Sunday afternoon and the overnight period into Monday morning,” said Met Office meteorologist Matthew Box.
Looking further ahead to the day of the election on Thursday, Mr Box says it’s too early to give a highly accurate day-by-day analysis.
“However, it does seem like we will see an unsettled spell from Wednesday through till Friday where we’ll see a mixture of showers and rain, with any drier interludes likely to be short-lived for any one particular place,” Mr Box said.
“Through that period, in the buildup to election day, it is likely to be slightly colder than average for time of year.
“With that said, we could see any showers increasingly likely to turn wintery ... so some fronts might bring some snow at times the further north you go.”
While the forecast could vindicate fears of a winter election affecting the result, there is little hard evidence to say for certain that adverse conditions significantly impact voter turnout, in part because of the rarity of winter elections over the past 50 years.
During the Brexit referendum, voters in parts of London and the southeast braved floodwaters in order to cast their ballot.
Then-Ukip leader Nigel Farage seemed buoyed at a prospective boost, telling reporters weather gave the Leave camp a “very strong chance” because of “those soft Remainers staying at home”.