Londoners will need to swap shorts and sandals for coats and scarves as the third warmest March since records began is followed by artic conditions.

Disgruntled residents can blame the drop in temperature on chill winds from the Norwegian sea, but they should be grateful that the capital will be spared the worst of the weather. That is reserved for Scotland and the north of England, who are predicted up to eight inches of snow.

Met Office forecaster Alex Fox said: “Things should remain dry with sunshine today. However, tomorrow things take a turn for the worst, with showery rain from tomorrow morning, and things getting increasingly chilly overnight as temperatures tumble.

“There could be sleet and snow over higher ground tomorrow evening. Wednesday will be cold and windy with hail and sleet – and it’s still going to be chilly on thursday, although temperatures are expected to recover on Friday.”

The frosty conditions  come after the sunniest March since 1929, with an average of 187 hours of sunshine over England and Wales. It was also the warmest since 1997.