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Cold, snow to descend across UK this weekend as ‘Beast from the East’ returns

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 18, 2018, 10:51:34 AM EDT

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The United Kingdom will face another round of frigid air and snowfall as the “Beast from the East” returns this weekend.

"Beast from the East" refers to a strong area of high pressure that sets up over Scandinavia and pulls frigid air from Siberia to Europe and the U.K.

"It will feel especially wintry with a fresh breeze and frequent snow showers," AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts said.

For the impending arctic blast, Wales and England will endure the core of the coldest air.

Highs in the lower single digits C (30s F) this weekend will replace the highs that were closer to 10 C (50 F) earlier this week. Widespread air frost is expected at night. A high near 10 C (50 F) is common in mid-March.

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With gusty winds factored in, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures may be held closer to 7 below zero C (20 F) during the day in Manchester, Cardiff and London.

Residents heading outdoors for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, 6 Nations Rugby matches or other weekend activities should definitely wrap up. The homeless should be urged to head to warming centers, while care should be taken to ensure livestock have proper shelter.

Be sure to let faucets drip at night in homes or businesses where water pipes are poorly insulated.

Anyone traveling by foot or vehicles may encounter slick conditions at times this weekend. With the cold air in place, the opportunity for snow to fall will return.

The snow showers will spread westward across England and Wales as the weekend progresses.

“Any periods of heavier snow can quickly settle and make roads slick,” Eherts said.

In order for roads and sidewalks to turn slippery from the mid-morning to mid-afternoon hours this time of year, snow must fall heavily to overcome the effects of the stronger March sun. Otherwise, these surfaces will remain wet as grassy and elevated surfaces turn white.

Light snowfall can stick to roads and sidewalks more easily at night.

Snowfall amounts of a coating to 5 cm (2 inches) will be common across England, Wales and eastern Scotland through Sunday. Areas that get repeated snow squalls could receive up to 10 cm (4 inches).

In the higher terrain of Wales, England and Scotland, the heaviest accumulations will be amounts up to 30 cm (8 inches).

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Any wet or slushy areas during the day may turn icy overnight as temperatures plummet below freezing.

Localized snow squalls will further create hazards for motorists, according to Eherts.

Squalls are notorious for rapidly reducing visibility and quickly coating roads. Both of these factors have led to chain-reaction accidents.

"Squalls can make travel slow and difficult both on the road and at airports," Eherts said. "That can include London’s Heathrow airport."

Whilst the most numerous snow showers and core of the cold are expected in the south, a few snow showers may graze Northern Ireland and western Scotland on Sunday. More residents will notice the chill in place with highs set to be held to 2-6 C (36-43 F).

The “Beast from the East” will gradually release its grip from the U.K. early next week with temperatures returning to normal levels by Tuesday.

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