Heavy rain and 60mph gales are set to batter Britain amid a dramatic drop in temperatures after following a heatwave that has made February the warmest on record.
Temperatures will be eight to ten degrees cooler on Thursday – climbing into the low teens in places – after they hit 21C earlier in the week.
After a foggy and chilly start to the day, possibly heavy and thundery showers will spread from Wales into England, and it will be breezier in the south.
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for fog for all of Northern Ireland, and parts of southern Scotland and northern England, where visibility is less than 100m (330ft), until 11am.
Thursday will be cooler and cloudier than recently, and it’s the start of a spell of normal temperatures, heavy rain and strong winds, with a chance of some snow over higher ground in the north.
Scattered showers on Thursday will bring an end to the "wall-to-wall" sunshine enjoyed during the recent hot spell, which saw new winter record temperatures set on two consecutive days.
Overnight, patchy evening rain will gradually taper off and the UK will stay mostly cloudy and relatively mild, although hill fog will persist, particularly in the north, the Met Office said.
Friday will be cloudy again with some light rain or drizzle before heavier rain moves into Northern Ireland and spreads to the far west of Britain later.
Rain and strong winds will move in from the west later on Saturday, while Sunday will be bright and breezy, with gales likely in Scotland and rain in the south.
Monday will be largely cloudy, wet and windy with showers or longer spells of rain for many, and possibly some hill snow, although details are still uncertain, the Met Office said.
It added: "Spells of wet and windy weather are likely to continue through the rest of the week, interspersed with some drier, brighter periods."
Some forecasts say gales could reach 50-60mph in coastal areas in the coming days.
The conditions will be a "big contrast" to the sunny start to the week, said forecaster Becky Mitchell, adding: "It will be wet and windy for the whole of the UK, and very strong winds across many places, and we could even have gales in the west."
Meanwhile, with just one day left the current month is on course to be the warmest February since records began.
The previous warmest February was in 1998, when the average maximum daily temperature was 9.8C.
This year’s maximum daily average has already reached 9.9C, the Met Office said.
Ms Mitchell said it would be "exceptional" to beat the 1998 record given the chilly start to the month.
She said: "At the moment, the current average is 9.9C and of course we have got just one more day of February to go, so it looks like we are on track to be the warmest February on record."
Ms Mitchell added: "It was really quite cold at the start of the month – it’s pretty exceptional to have caught up with the 1998 one."
Experts said climate change is heating up the whole weather system and making extremes more likely.
February’s exceptional conditions have seen fires at Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, on Saddleworth Moor in West Yorkshire and in North Wales, Sussex and Lancashire.
The warmest winter temperatures on record were measured on Monday and Tuesday as temperatures beat the previous record of 19.7C in Greenwich, south-east London, in 1998.
UK five-day weather forecast
Fog patches will linger at first, particularly in Northern Ireland.
Morning sunshine is likely in eastern England.
It will be cooler and cloudier than recently, and breezier in the south.
Showery rain, possibly heavy, will spread from Wales into England.
Patchy evening rain, particularly in England and Wales, will gradually disperse and the UK will stay mostly cloudy and relatively mild overnight.
Hill fog will persist, particularly in the north.
Friday will be cloudy with a few patches of light rain or drizzle.
Heavier rain will move into Northern Ireland and spread to the far west of Britain later.
Saturday to Monday
Rain and strong winds arriving from the west later on Saturday.
Sunday bright and breezy, with gales likely in Scotland and rain in the south.
Sunshine and showers Monday.
Wet and windy weather – and snow – next week
Here is the Met Office’s outlook for Monday to Wednesday 13 March: "Monday will be largely cloudy, wet and windy with showers or longer spells of rain for many, and possibly some hill snow, although details are currently uncertain.
"The best of any drier weather will probably be in the north. Spells of wet and windy weather are likely to continue through the rest of the week, interspersed with some drier, brighter periods.
"Further strong winds and gales are likely in exposed areas, particularly in the northwest.
"Temperatures will be near or slightly below normal for the start of spring, perhaps temporarily milder as weather fronts move across.
"On high ground in the north, it may be cold enough for some snow to fall, and there is the continued threat of overnight frosts where skies clear."
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