Arctic weather bringing snow and ice is on its way back to the UK and you can safely expect your weekend travel plans to be disrupted. Airports, rail companies and motorists organisations are preparing themselves for chaos as the next freeze sets in.

Temperatures dropped last night and Scotland has already been hit by snow. Conditions are expected to move across the whole of Britain over the next few days.

Forecasters have warned that by Saturday the whole of Britain could be covered in as much as 15cm of snow. Icy roads will make driving dangerous and severe weather warnings have been issued for Scotland, the North West and the North East.

A forecaster at MeteoGroup said: “We’re basically looking at potential icy conditions spreading down from the north so the emphasis is on icy roads following rain.

“Tonight will end up very cold with snow showers that will affect particularly north Scotland and western coasts. What we’re going to find on Friday is these snow showers begin to move eastwards. Going into Saturday morning, a larger area of snow is going to develop and begin to move east.

“In the early hours of Saturday morning, it will be snowing over quite a large bit of Britain.”

Schools begin to break up this week so travel disruption will cause chaos for families setting off on Christmas trips. Millions of Christmas shoppers will also be affected.

A spokesperson for the AA said that extra patrols will be on standby to help drivers stuck on icy roads. Network Rail has said its snow ploughs are ready to tackle snow on the tracks.

Airports have large numbers of extra staff lined up to help out when the big freeze sets in.

Councils are assuring drives that enough salt has been stockpiled to deal with the icy weather.

“Councils massively increased their salt stocks this year and will do whatever it takes to keep disruption during the cold snap to a minimum,” said a spokesman for the Local Government Association.

“Gritters will salt as much of the road network as they can and communicate their plans to residence well in advance.

It’s definitely time to get that scarf and hat out again with a severe wind chill factor expected to add to the bitter temperatures.

“It is not going to be very nice,” said Andy Lane, a Met Office forecaster.

“There will be a drastic temperature drop and severe windchill and snow blowing around everywhere.”