Four days of washouts and fears of flash floods as 800-mile storm hits Britain

Britain is bracing for four days of washouts from an 800-mile wide Atlantic storm front that will bring thundery and heavy rain and 45mph wind gusts.

The storm front is set to strike after a Bank Holiday Monday that was colder than Siberia and verged on the coldest ever.

The Met Office , preparing severe weather warnings, forecast -5C on Tuesday morning and heavy downpours for many regions from Wednesday until Saturday.

Days of wet and windy weather have led to fears of flash floods as up to 30mm of rain falls and thunderstorms will hit every day, according to the latest forecasts.

Snow is due Tuesday and Wednesday night in the north on high ground, and on Thursday on north Wales' mountains.

Gusts up to 45mph will buffet south, west and east.

Highs will be just 11-15C.

Met Office forecaster Emma Smith said: “Monday was close to the coldest May Bank Holiday minimum temperature on record, and Tuesday morning could be colder at -5C in Scotland.

“Now the jet stream will bring low pressure across the country, with a warning likely on Wednesday night for surface water flooding in the North-East.

“A big band of rain will move across the country on Wednesday, with 15-20mm widely and 30mm in the North-East.

“Thunderstorms follow the rain on Wednesday and are expected until Friday, with the Midlands and South most affected and the North at risk on Friday. Outbreaks of rain continue on Saturday.

“Snow and sleet could be seen in the North and southern Scotland over 400m into Tuesday and on Wednesday night, and in Snowdonia on Thursday.

“It will be windy in parts from Wednesday until Saturday, with maybe the odd 45mph gust and 40mph gusts generally on coasts in the South-West, South and East.

“Highs will be around 11-15C.”

Met Office forecaster Steven Keates said: “The coldest air coming to Britain is from north of Russia, converging with cold air from well north of the Arctic Circle, not too far from the Pole, and flooding to the UK and a good part of Europe as far south as Italy.

“Unseasonal snow in the second week of May is expected on Scottish mountains, with disappointing temperatures.

“This is not at all like how early May should feel – and blowy conditions are ahead. Low pressure will be slap bang across the UK.”

The Weather Outlook forecaster Brian Gaze said: “Anyone brave enough to have tried a Bank Holiday BBQ would have been huddling around it for warmth.

“A polar plunge brought one of the coldest early May Bank Holiday weekends the UK has ever had.”

Brits abandoned resorts early Monday with 11am seeing a six-mile queue on the A47 from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, a four-mile queue on the A31 from Poole, Dorset, and two-mile queues on the A590 in Cumbria and A30 in Cornwall, Sat Nav provider TomTom Traffic reported.

Beaches were deserted two weeks after being jammed in 25C Easter heat.

“It's not been the weather to lie on the beach so hotels have been hard to fill,” Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association's Andrew Woodland said.

A 2,000-mile wide North Pole 'polar plunge' chill made Monday – which saw highs of just 12C at 12pm – verge on the record for the coldest early May Bank Holiday since the holiday began 41 years ago in 1978.

The day's coldest UK peak temperature is 14.5C in 1982, BBC weatherman Simon King said.

A temperature of -4.0C at Katesbridge, Northern Ireland, on Monday morning was close to the -5.9C record for the coldest early May Bank Holiday temperature on record. It was set on May 7, 2012, at Kinbrace, Sutherland, Scotland.

Britain is colder than -3C lows in Yakutsk, the world’s coldest city, in eastern Siberia, and -1C lows in Tasiilaq, Greenland.

The UK is 15C colder than a year ago, when the early May Bank Holiday saw a record 28.7C at Northolt, London.

Weathermen's biggest U-turn in living memory saw 25C 'Spanish Plume' predictions scrapped after all major forecasters said a week ago that a warm Bank Holiday weekend was expected. Computer forecast models were blamed.

Met Office forecaster Mark Wilson said: “Forecasts can change. If high pressure had been over Scandinavia, we'd have had a southerly flow – but high pressure being to the west of the UK means a northerly flow, as winds blow clockwise around high pressure.”

Mr Gaze said: “Forecasters' jaws dropped when the Bank Holiday weekend forecast changed from hot to cold.

“I can't recall a more dramatic sudden short-term forecast change, with a 14C difference in computer model forecasts between the warm southerly from Spain bringing 25C and the cold northerly from the Arctic bringing 11C.”

Met Office five-day weather forecast

Tuesday

Showery outbreaks of rain in Scotland and northern England will spread southwards into Northern Ireland, north Wales, central and eastern parts of England later, with some brighter intervals.

Southern and southwest England along with south Wales will stay mainly fine.

Tuesday night

Persistent rain and brisk winds in the southwest will spread northeastwards including heavy bursts.

Showery rain is likely in the north too, but northern Scotland will be clearer with frost.

Wednesday

Rain will move north, stalling over northern England and Scotland, giving some heavy rain in eastern parts.

In the south sunny spells will soon develop, followed by heavy thundery showers.

Thursday to Saturday

Further heavy rain and showers on Thursday and to a lesser extent Friday, will retreat to eastern parts during Saturday.

Staying rather cold, with wintry showers affecting the far north.

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