THIS year began with the coldest January the UK's had in a decade, the Met Office has said.

While many of us were hoping for brighter conditions after the struggle of 2020, the calendar change didn't bring them.

Forecasters have confirmed that January came with an average UK temperature of just 2.2C, which is the lowest since the 0.9C chills of 2010.

However, conditions vary wildly today from around 3C in Edinburgh and Newcastle to 13C in London. In Belfast the temperature is around 5C, while in Cardiff it is 12C.

Icy and snowy conditions are expected over much of Scotland in the next seven days, with snow also set to hit parts of England, where heavy flurries hit northern areas overnight.

An alert for snow and ice is also in place from central Scotland down to the Midlands until midnight, which is likely to affect public transport and motorists.

Between 5cm and 10cm of snow could fall over higher ground in southern Scotland and northernmost counties in England, with the possibility of 20cm or more across the highest roads.

For northern Scotland, a yellow snow warning is in place until Saturday morning, raising concerns about rural communities becoming cut off.

Meanwhile, there is a yellow weather warning for rain and snow across Co Derry and Co Antrim in Northern Ireland in force today, meaning flooding is possible.

Speaking about the January temperatures, Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office's National Climate Information Centre (NCIC), said: "January 2021 has been dominated by colder-than-average weather with only brief milder interludes, but what does this cold winter mean in the context of climate change and a warming planet?

"Well, a winter month as cold or colder than January 2021 used to occur in approximately seven out of 10 winters through the 20th Century.

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"In more recent decades this has dropped to around three in ten. So although we are still subject to cold weather in winter, these cold spells tend not to be as severe or as frequent as in the past."