The entire UK has been told to brace for a record-breaking period of bitter Arctic winds, crippling snowfall and plunging temperatures.
Long-range forecasts now point to winter 2013 now being the worst for more than 60 years with Polar conditions stretching right into the beginning of next spring.
The shock warning comes with the UK already shivering in an unseasonably early big freeze with temperatures plummeting to -5C and heavy snow sparking chaos in parts of the UK.
It has also sparked fears that the extreme cold expected this winter could kill far more vulnerable people than usual, especially as millions turn down their heating in the wake of huge energy price rises.
Long range forecasts show that a high pressure ‘blocking system’ drawing cold air in from the Arctic will wreak havoc with our weather, generating prolonged spells colder than in Iceland, Norway and Sweden and even parts of the Arctic region.
Long-range forecaster James Madden, of Exacta Weather, said: “An exceptionally prolonged period of widespread cold is highly likely to develop throughout this winter and last into next spring.
“It will be accompanied by snow drifts of several feet and long-lasting snow accumulations on a widespread scale.
“This period of snow and cold is likely to result in an incomparable scenario to anything we have experienced in modern times.
“A scenario similar to December 2010 is likely to develop, but on a more prolonged scale in terms of overall duration.”
Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said this winter could now parallel hthe worst winters ever recorded.
He said: “Looking back at historical data there is certainly an argument that we may well parallel with severe winters of the past including 1947 and 1962.
“We have had such a cold November, and there is no sign of any change due to a high pressure blocking system.
“When these severe temperatures bed in it becomes like an accumulative effect - like a heatwave but in reverse, we could be looking at the longest winter in history.
“And this is when you see records breaking, all signs point towards this winter being exceptionally severe, I wouldn’t put anything past it.”
As energy bills rocket, campaigners warn around 25,000 people could die of the cold - around 23 per cent more than during a Swedish winter.
Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said: “It is a national disgrace that thousands of people are dying unnecessarily every year, lives that could be saved by something as simple as better insulation.
“That more people die from the cold every year in temperate Britain than in freezing Sweden is an embarrassment and a tragedy.”
This winter has so far shown signs of delivering a repeat of 1962 when temperatures tumbled in mid-November and the first snow fell.
Southern England was hit by blizzards and London was buried under 12 inches of drifting snow with further downpours in January and February (Source: Netweather).
Devon and North East England were left under 2ft of snow and people were able to walk on the tops of the frozen shrubbery.
This winter could also be a carbon copy of 1947, the snowiest in history with showers in March leading to seven-metre high drifts.
The worst winter since 1814 there was continuos snowfall from January 22 to March 17 (Source: Netweather) with seven inches falling in South West England and the Scilly Isles in January.
In early March there was a blizzard in England and Wales, with 1ft widely, and 5ft over high ground. Flooding was also a problem as rain ran off frozen ground in torrents leading to widespread chaos on the roads.
The lack of power supplies became so critical that at one point radio and TV broadcasts were suspended, magazines were ordered to stop being published and many newspapers were forced to cut their size.
Mr Powell added: “The worst of the weather is likely to arrive in January - this is when the real trouble is likely to start.
“So far, we have seen an early taste of what this winter could have to offer, and it is only November, late December into next year looks shocking.
“And there is every possibility this could be the picture right through until May and even into spring, we could see one of the longest winters in history.”
The Met Office said clear skies and persistent high pressure over the weekend and into next week will keep minimum temperatures below average for the time of year.
Forecaster Dan Williams said: “It is going to turn more settled and resulting clear skies mean there is more heat loss, keeping things cooler than average.
“It is a cold picture for the rest of the week, and there could be the risk of fog." - Express.