Last week the North East had an early taste of winter as snow fell on higher ground - and forecasters are warning it could just be the start of a very cold winter.
According to the Met Office, the phenomenon known as the Polar Vortex is likely to descend over the UK from the Arctic in the coming months causing temperatures to plummet.
This would lead to the coldest winter in years, with freezing temperatures and a higher risk of snow.
Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office Hadley Centre, explains: “The risk of a cold start to winter has increased to 30 per cent this year. Statistically, however, it is still more likely that the UK will experience a normal start to winter, but there is an increased risk of cold snaps between now and Christmas.”
He added: “Several factors, including tropical rainfall, are known to drive UK and European winter conditions: following a strong El Niño last year, the tropics are now influenced by a weak La Niña and unusual rainfall conditions in the Indian Ocean.”
The last time the Polar Vortex influenced the weather in the UK was in late 2010 when the country experienced a prolonged cold snap with widespread snow.