Residents in the North West of England should prepare themselves for freezing Arctic temperatures as a 'Polar vortex' is set to hit the UK, say forecasters.
The Met Office has warned that temperatures in the region will plummet to below zero as the arctic blast from Eastern Europe hits.
The freezing weather is expected to arrive by the weekend and could last well into next week, forecasters have said.
Experts say the "Beast from the East" has been caused by a "Sudden Stratospheric Warming".
Prof Adam Scaife, of the Met Office Hadley Centre, explained: “Signs of this event appeared in forecasts from late January and last week we saw a dramatic rise in air temperature of around 50°C, known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming, at around 30km above the North Pole.
"This warming results from a breakdown of the usual high-altitude westerly winds and it often leads to a switch in our weather: with cold easterly conditions more likely to dominate subsequent UK weather.”
A spokesman for the Met Office said there are signs that this cold spell is likely to last well into next week with possibly even colder air from Russia moving across the UK. Although there is a very low risk of snow this week because of the dry nature of the air, this could change the other side of the weekend.
Dr Thomas Waite, of Public Health England’s Extreme Events team, said: “With the days feeling a little longer and lighter it can be easy to forget that cold weather can still kill.
“Over 65s, those with conditions like heart and lung diseases and young children, are all at particular risk in cold weather as their bodies struggle to cope when temperatures fall.
"So before it gets cold check on friends, family and neighbours, who may be at risk and make sure they’re heating homes to at least 18C, see if they need any particular help or just someone to talk to and keep an eye on the Met Office’s forecasts and warnings.
"Remember keeping warm will help keep you well.”