Bank Holiday will be coldest for 41 years with minus 6C chills frost and snow and sleet on way

This year’s May Bank Holiday could be the coldest for 41 years as temperatures are expected to drop as low as -6C.

Snow and frost which is expected to creep in from Friday could put a halt to the 13 million drivers who are expected to hit the roads over the weekend.

The Met Office has warned of snow and sleet flurries on the high ground in the Midlands, northern parts of the UK and even some areas of the south across Friday and Saturday.

The unpredictable weather conditions could spur on a ‘motoring mayday’, as research from the RAC reveals that this weekend will be the busiest on the roads in three years.

Friday is expected to be busiest for those embarking on car journeys, with 1.5 million more users hitting the roads than the same day last year.

This is while on a weather front -5C is due Friday night and -6C threatens Saturday with Sunday night into Monday almost as cold. Even the South is due -4C.

Widespread freezing temperatures and frost are due, with daytime showers.

The coldest early May Bank Holiday temperature recorded since the holiday began in 1978 is -5.9C on May 7, 2012, at Kinbrace, Sutherland, Scotland, Met Office records show.

Up until Monday we will see highs of just 11-14C, but with drier skies and sunny spells on Sunday and Monday.

Met Office forecaster Mark Wilson said: ‘Cold air of Arctic and polar origin will arrive from Friday and through the Bank Holiday weekend.

‘Forecasts can change. If high pressure had been over Scandinavia, we’d have had a southerly flow – but high pressure being to the west of the UK means a northerly flow, as winds blow clockwise around high pressure.

‘Snow and sleet could be seen on Friday and Saturday on the highest ground of the Peak District, Pennines and Scotland, with a small chance on the Chilterns.’

He added that widespread front could also be seen.

‘It could drop to -5c on Friday night and Saturday night in the North, with a low chance of -6C, and -4C on Saturday night in the South, with Sunday night a bit less cold with frost in places.

‘Highs will be 11-14C, but Sunday and Monday will be dry and sunny spells and will feel pleasant enough in the sunshine out of the breeze.’

The weather conditions could mean that drivers start off the day with a breakdown, if their battery is already on the blink, according to the RAC.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘Despite it looking like the weather will take an usually cold turn for the start of May – certainly after the recent Easter heatwave – our figures suggest drivers are still keen to make the most of the long weekend, with significantly more saying they are planning a leisure trip by car this year than in recent years.’

He added that the cooler conditions could cause batteries to give up completely.

‘There is a risk that drivers will suffer their own ‘motoring mayday’ if they are not careful, since the colder nights we’re about to experience could be enough to cause some older car batteries to finally give up the ghost – seriously disrupting plans for a getaway. 

‘Luckily, temperatures will rise during the day and it isn’t due to be a wash-out.

‘The advice is again to try to use the roads when they are quieter, which primarily means avoiding Friday afternoon and evening if possible, and setting off earlier on Saturday, especially if travelling any great distance.’