Weather respite 'will be brief'
Britain is set for a brief respite from the worst December weather in 29 years before temperatures plunge again for the rest of the month.
As the country battles with icy roads and disrupted trains and flights, forecasters said the UK will start to thaw on Thursday, with the mercury almost reaching double figures in some parts.
But bitter winds are expected to return by the start of next week, and bookmakers have slashed the odds on a white Christmas.
Forecaster John Hutchinson, from MeteoGroup, said: "Generally speaking, a lot of places will have a dry and pretty clear night but there will be some further snow showers on the east coast for a time.
"We're also looking at a few showers affecting Wales as well, falling as sleet and snow.
"Later in the night, the breeze does pick up a bit in the west of Scotland bringing in some slightly milder air, which is the first sign of warmer or less cold air trying to push in.
"What we're going to have through the next few days is the wind moves round from the Atlantic bringing less cold air."
Speaking on the outlook for Thursday, he added: "Southern areas will see temperatures higher than they have been, between 2C and 4C. Up across Scotland and Northern Ireland, temperatures of 5C and 9C, so we're looking at a bit of a thaw."
But despite improved temperatures over the next few days, forecasters warned the Arctic conditions are expected to return.
"It's going to stay cold for much of the rest of the month with widespread risk of ice, frost and snow showers," Mr Hutchinson added.