UK weather: When is 'thundersnow' going to strike - and is it going to hit YOUR area?

People are battered by fierce winds and snow (Photo: Getty)

Britain is set to be hit with a rare outbreak of 'thundersnow' this week as blustery showers, blizzards and frigid air blow in from the north.

The phenomenon happens when thunderstorms form in wintry conditions, and could occur within storms that are expected to cause chaos across much of the UK this week.

Yellow warnings for wind and snow have been issued ahead of the massive weather disturbance, with as much as 20cm of snow possible in some areas.

Here's a rundown of when 'thundersnow' could strike and what areas could be affected by it as an Arctic blast grips the country.

Video thumbnail, Met Office Meteorologist gives advice on how to prepare for 'thundersnow'

Exact locations are difficult to predict, but yellow warnings for wind and snow affect almost all of Britain at various times this week.

Warnings were issued for almost all of Scotland and Northern Ireland and the North West of England on Wednesday.

On Thursday to warnings extend to include most of Wales and southern England, and will remain in effect on Friday/

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Those areas will be affected by showers and snow from winter storms, which carry a risk of 'thundersnow'.

The Met Office said: "Many of the showers will fall as snow away from western coasts, with ice, hail and lightning posing additional hazards."

With the cold air originating over Arctic Canada, meteorologist Emma Sharples warned: "We could get some blizzard-type conditions, especially at height."

If the weather is cold the rain associated with a thunderstorm can then fall as snow and thus is called thundersnow, said the Met Office.

When is 'thundersnow' going to strike?

'Thundersnow' could develop between Wednesday and Friday in the right conditions.

Yellow warnings for Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of the North West are in effect from Wednesday.

By evening several centimetres of snow will begin to accumulate, especially over higher ground.

Video thumbnail, Thundersnow batters Britain on bitterly cold morning as winter showers cause travel chaos

On Thursday the risk of 'thundersnow' spreads to Wales and eastern and southern England, and will continue into Friday, affecting much of Britain.

Talking about 'thundersnow', where the rain associated with a thunderstorm falls as snow, she said: "It is possible, all that really needs is for thunder to happen at the same time as the snow.

"So where you get very active or vigorous showers - which is what we are going to see... then we could well get some thunder as well. It is definitely possible."

How much snow will storms bring?

A man digs his car out from the snow after a storm in November (Photo: PA)

Showers are expected to bring 2cm to 5cm at lower levels and 10cm to 20cm on ground above 200 metres.

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Ms Sharples said the snow at lower levels is unlikely to build up too much, unless there is "shower after shower coming over the same location".

But she warned: "Even a centimetre of snow in this country can obviously cause some disruption," adding that there could be "some showers inland, but they are likely to be short-lived".

Will storms cause any disruption?

The storms could cause chaos for drivers as well as train passengers and people travelling by plane.

Rod Dennis, of the RAC, said drivers should be prepared for "tricky driving conditions and significantly extended journey times".

He added: "Even a small amount of snowfall has the potential to cause major disruption for motorists.

Snow ploughs will be on standby when storms hit (Photo: PA)

"The fact that drivers in some parts of the country will be faced with strong winds, snow showers and icy stretches increases the chances of problems on the road enormously."

The Met Office said: "Lightning may accompany the heaviest showers, with potential disruption to power supplies as a consequence."

On Wednesday and Thursday, wind gusts of up to 55mph are expected in exposed coastal areas and on hills.

What will the temperature be?

Temperatures at the end of the week (Photo: Met Office)

In terms of temperatures, Ms Sharples said: "We are looking at low single figures, 2C to 5C by day, and then overnight it will vary across the country.

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"But where there is snow lying it could be heading towards double minus figures, minus 8c or minus 10C, especially in towns and cities, and probably in the north of England and Scotland."

Overnight frosts are also set to develop in most places, with severe frost likely where there is snow on the ground in the north.

How does 'thundersnow' compare to summer thunderstorms?

Snow falls in Tow Law, in County Durham, in November (Photo: PA)

The rare phenomenon occurs when thunderstorms - which are much more common in summer months - form in wintry conditions.

The Met Office said such a scenario is unusual because it can only occur in a few months of the year.

It added: "The snow contained within the thunderstorm acts to dampen the sound of the thunder and while a the thunder from a typical thunderstorm might be head many miles away, the thunder during a thundersnow event will only be heard if you within two to three miles of the lightning.

"When thundersnow occurs at night the lightning seems brighter - this is because the lightning reflects off the snowflakes."

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By Larry White 01/10/2017 23:37:00