Snowstorms blow in on Arctic blast
Parts of Britain were hit by snowstorms overnight as an Arctic blast sent temperatures plunging.
Just weeks after the country enjoyed the warmest April day in four years, the balmy weather has given way to wintry conditions.
Around 1.2in (3cm) of snow is lying on the ground in the Highlands of Scotland after storms hit the north of Britain.
And the Pennines and Northern Ireland have both also been struck by sleet and snow showers.
Forecasters warned that the unsettled weather is set to last, putting paid to hopes of an early summer.
The mercury dropped to below freezing or thereabouts in large swathes of Britain last night, hitting minus 3C (27F) in parts of Scotland and hovering around freezing on the south coast.
Met Office forecaster Steven Keates said: "Through the course of yesterday afternoon we saw an area of low pressure in the north of the UK.
"There were a lot of showers and we have seen these showers turn to sleet and snow, particularly over higher ground and over Scotland and Northern Ireland."
He warned of icy patches in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and said even the south of England woke up to frost.
Mr Keates said: "It is cold enough for the end of April. It was cold in the south, temperatures were freezing in Bournemouth and I had to scrape the ice off my car this morning, which I didn't expect, and I'm in Exeter."
Britain's topsy-turvy weather has seen temperatures plummet. From a high of 25.1C (77F) in Kent a fortnight ago, the mercury will hover between 7C (45F) 10C (50F) in the north and between 11C (52F) and 14C (57F) in the south.
The country will see a north south divide today, with sunny spells in the south and showers bringing hail and thunder to the north.
But squally rain is expected to strike all of Britain overnight.
Mr Keates said: "Persistent rain will hit all areas through the course of the night, we will see a short, sharp burst of rain - squally rain.
"It could come down quite heavily, even if it is only for half an hour or an hour. It will bear down on windows and by the end of the night get to the London area. If you commute into London you may get wet tomorrow morning."
The unsettled weather is set to last into next week, meaning those who are hoping for a sunny May bank holiday weekend look set to be disappointed.
Mr Keates said: "It is a contrast from what we have seen recently for the first three weeks of April - we have been spoilt."
Higher parts of the Pennines in Yorkshire and north Derbyshire had a thin covering of snow overnight and wintry showers continued throughout the morning.
Drivers heading over the Snake Pass, between Sheffield and Manchester, were greeted with views of white-topped hills in glorious sunshine and then had to cope with sudden showers of snow, sleet and hail.
The showers were brief but heavy.
Some of the heavier deluges extended as far east as Sheffield.