Some parts of the UK could see a “white Christmas” as temperatures plummet across the country – but stormy conditions are set to return on Boxing Day.
The Met Office has said Christmas Day is likely to be clear and dry for most, but showers in eastern areas of England could bring the possibility of sleet or snow in the morning.
It comes amid widespread flooding around the country with people rescued from vehicles and others evacuated from their homes following a period of heavy rain.
The arrival of Storm Bella on Boxing Day will bring further downpours and winds of up to 60-70mph in exposed coastal locations.
Alex Burkill, a meteorologist at the Met Office, told the PA news agency: “Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day is going to be very cold, with harsh widespread frost first thing Christmas morning.
“So it could be a ‘white’ Christmas in as much as lots of people are going to wake up to a frost.”
Light flurries of snow were seen on Christmas Eve, including on the North East coast.
He continued: “They’ll be very light, scattered, not everywhere will see them by any means, and for most areas it’s going to be a pretty dry day, just cold, but there is a chance we could see a few showers of snow across eastern parts of England, particularly early on Christmas Day.”
However, the focus for many will be on the rain that has already fallen after the wet conditions brought flooding including in the Midlands.
On Thursday, the Environment Agency issued two severe flood warnings for the River Nene in Northamptonshire, indicating a risk to life.
Across England, a total of 109 flood warnings and 136 flood alerts remained in force at 11pm on Thursday as huge amounts of water flowed through river catchments.
Northamptonshire Police said the emergency services were preparing to evacuate more than 1,000 people from the Billing Aquadrome holiday park in the county.
The force said the heavy rain had caused flooding with water up to 5ft deep in places.
Northamptonshire Search and Rescue were involved in the evacuations, which included a new mother and a young baby.
Emergency accommodation was sourced for the residents, some of whom showed signs of hypothermia, at hotels and at least two leisure centres.
Police Chief Superintendent Mick Stamper said it was an “exceptionally challenging situation” and asked residents to leave the site if they could, adding they would be exempt from Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident at the holiday park on Thursday evening, with five crews and four specialist water teams searching 1,100 caravans.
The force previously responded to 250 incidents following heavy rain, deploying crews to pump out properties and stranded vehicles.
Properties in various parts of the country, including East Anglia and Gloucester, were also flooded as there was up to two inches of rainfall in some areas.
The Met Office said conditions across the UK will turn increasingly unsettled through to December 27, with strong winds and heavy rain moving in from the north.
An amber national severe weather warning has been issued for parts of south Wales and across southern England, with gusts expected to reach up to 60-70mph in exposed coastal locations.
A yellow warning for wind for the whole of England and Wales as well as the far south of Scotland has also been issued and will be in force from 3pm on Boxing Day.