Britain faces a New Year nightmare with the nation braced for an Arctic whiteout.
Weather boffins have warned a collapsing Polar vortex could trigger a January big freeze that will make December’s cold snap seem like a breeze.
The first flurries of snow could hit on the stroke of midnight as revellers ring in 2023.
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Within 10 days the entire country could be under a blanket of snow – with Arctic temperatures and icy winds not far behind.
Such a freezing fiasco could have catastrophic consequences with Brits battling to cope with the cost of living crisis.
Many are still scared to turn on the heating due to soaring energy bills.
Meteorologists have their eyes trained on the vortex – a pool of cold air spinning over the North Pole – amid fears it could spark a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event, also known as an SSW.
One such weather incident drove the 2018 Beast From The East Arctic deluge which left swathes of the UK covered by deep snow.
The phenomenon is caused by a change in wind direction high above the North Pole forcing air to descend from the stratosphere and flood the US, Asia and northern Europe.
Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden said: "A Sudden Stratospheric Warming event is now looking even more likely to occur this winter and this could happen as soon as in the next 10 days or so.
Chilly start to 2023 expected as Met Office predict snowfall in its long range forecast
"This will mean that the cold air over the Arctic will be given a route to cross our shores."
In addition to above-average snowfall it could pave the way for another big freeze leaving the cold snap earlier in December a distant memory.
"If an SSW does set in icy weather could hit Brits around the middle of January, he warned. Cold winds blowing into the UK this weekend mean New Year revellers should wrap up to see in 2023", he added.
"We could see some snow hitting parts of Britain around the New Year period, but this is likely to be restricted to the northern half of the country,’’ he said.
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The effects of any stratospheric changes would make their impacts later on in January.
But Brits were offered some hope as other meteorologists forecast rain instead.
Some said the nation may get away with a storm and drenching – but milder temperatures. British Weather Services’ Jim Dale said a big freeze was `not something that I will rule out’.
But he went on: "At the moment I am favouring a more mobile weather pattern from the Atlantic.
"Instead of a big snow event we may be more likely to see a named storm during the start of 2023.
"However that does not mean it is not going to happen.
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"If it does it will be more likely to affect northern parts of the country.’’
A Met Office spokesman predicted the new year would start with `showers or longer spells of rain’ for most of Britain with the `potential for some heavier bursts’. Initially snow would probably only hit Scotland, they said.
A northwest-southeast split may develop, bringing drier conditions to eastern areas with the most frequent rainfall and strongest winds in the north and west,’’ a spokesman said.
While it would be colder than normal in the north it would stay mild down south.
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But by mid-January the Met Office warned cold spells from the north and north-west are possible’ which could bring snow showers to the north’.
The weather warning comes as Canada and the US shiver through what they hope will be the tail end of a once in a generation’ freeze which sent temperatures plummeting below -40C and killed around 60 people.
The historic whiteout has been driven by the Polar vortex tipping torrents of cold air over the region. John Hammond, of the Weather Trending website, said there were conflicting signals’ as to what will happen in January.
"Meteorologists are in for a perplexing week or two as they try to work out which of these opposing atmospheric forecasts will hold sway,’’ he said.
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