THIS weekend will be a dreary return to the wintry weather as the UK prepares to get soaked by showers and blown away in winds up to 60mph.
But bookies have slashed the odds for next month to be the hottest March EVER after a record-breaking February saw temperatures soar into the 20s.
Winds are expected to reach 50-60mph this weekend as the wintry weather makes its return
With temperatures soaring towards the end of February, the bookies have opened the betting at 10/11 that next month goes down as a record-breaker.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “February’s scorching temperatures have forced us to slash odds on March breaking weather records.”
But forecasters say temperatures will actually be lower than average for March with intermittent showers typical for spring time.
Met Office meteorologist Luke told the Sun Online: “March will get off to an unsettled start with wet and windy weather this weekend.
“Winds could get up to 50-60mph, particularly in the north of the UK.
The general forecast through the first half of the month will be changeable with wet and wind weather and cooler, brighter, showery interludes typical for this time of year.
“March should see temperatures slightly below average, which is 10-11C in the south and 8-9C in the north.
“The second half of March will bring some signs of dryer conditions and a return to slightly warmer weather.
“Northern parts however will still be on the unsettled side.
“Snow will be returning to the UK after the recent sunny weather but only over the hills and mountains in northern areas.”
Yesterday’s warm weather is today being followed by single-figure temperatures and heavy rain as the forecast takes a dreary turn.
And next week, weather maps show there will be widespread snow cover – with up to 5cm due to fall on Thursday March 3.
The whole of Scotland will be covered in the white stuff with the north of England, West Midlands and North wales also blanketed.
But first, Brits will have to endure heavy rain and thick cloud across most parts today – as well as a dusting of snow in parts.
The Met Office said: “Fog patches will linger at first, particularly in Northern Ireland.
“Morning sunshine is likely in eastern England. It will be cooler and cloudier than recently, and breezier in the south.
“Showery rain, possibly heavy, will spread from Wales into England.”
Walkers and climbers are being warned not to ditch their fleeces and crampons as winter is set to return to Scotland’s mountains this weekend.
Mountaineering Scotland (MS) says people need to get their ‘winter heads’ back in place.
“The unseasonably high temperatures and lack of snow have meant many hill-goers have abandoned crampons, ice-axes and skis in favour of more summery options such as hill walking, climbing and mountain biking,” said a spokesman for MS.
“However, although the daffodils are just on the cusp of flowering in the lowlands, the weather is set to change back to more usual conditions for the time of year.
“Mountain forecasts for the weekend show a dramatic change in the air mass affecting Scotland. Instead of warm air being drawn up from the deep south within a Tropical Maritime air mass, the Jet Stream is dipping south, and Scotland will be influenced by cold air drawn down from the North.
“Freezing levels are dropping below summit level from Saturday onwards and snow is forecast.”
Mountaineering Scotland’s Mountain Safety Adviser, Heather Morning, said: “Combine fresh snow cover with high winds and poor visibility and it’s time to switch on that #Thinkwinter awareness again and reinstate those crampons and ice axes essential for safe travel in the winter mountains.
“It’s important to consider our mind-set: over the past two weeks it very much felt like winter was behind us, so it would be all too easy to get caught out in the wrong place with the wrong kit.
“Planning is key this weekend to make the most of our return to winter.”
Met Office meteorologist Bonnie Diamond told The Sun Online: “We are seeing a change in weather
“High pressure has brought mild temperatures and dry weather to the UK but as we speak the high pressure is breaking down.
“We will have a return to westerly winds and low pressure typical for this time of year.”
He added: “So it won’t be as warm as it has been this week and there will be spells of rain and wind.
“With the switchback to westerly mobiles, there is a chance some areas could see some hill snow.”
Next week will see the shift in temperatures kick into a higher gear.
Ms Diamond added: “From Monday there’s a chance northern parts of the countries will see snow and sleet in hilly areas.
“As we lose the warmer temperatures, areas over high ground can become cold enough for snow to form.”
Britain basked in its hottest winter day on record on Tuesday when the mercury hit 21.2C (69.4F) in Kew Gardens, London.
But the incredibly warm weather saw a huge blaze breaking out on the side of a mountain in Betws Yn Rhos in North Wales.
Firefighters also had to battle a wildfire which had broken out at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, best known as the setting of A.A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
Huge fires also broke out in Edinburgh and crews were battling a fierce blaze in Saddleworth Moor late into Tuesday.
The high of 21.2C followed a record of 20.6C (68.5F) at Trawsgoed in Ceredigion, West Wales, on Monday, which beat the previous high in 1998 of 19.7C (67.4F) in Greenwich, south-east London.