A cold snap will hit the UK as the clocks go back this weekend, marking an emphatic end to British summer time (BST) and to an unusually warm autumn.
Gritters were on standby across the country on Friday and forecasters advised people to unpack their winter clothes, as the Met Office issued yellow warnings for snow and ice in northern Scotland and ice in Northern Ireland, beginning from the evening and continuing overnight.
Forecasters warned of patchy ice and slush affecting some upland routes as well as rail and road disruption, and snow may dust the tops of hills in the Pennines in northern England, Snowdonia in north-west Wales, the North York Moors, and across the Scottish Highlands.
Eastern parts are likely to see hail, showers and strong winds throughout Saturday, with the chance of a thunderstorm. And even in southern parts, where temperatures are forecast to be about 7C (45F), wind chill means it will feel several degrees cooler, forecasters said.
Bonnie Diamond, a Met Office forecaster, said: “We have had a pretty mild October so far and a warm start to autumn in places, so it will be a big change for everybody as we go through the weekend. Certainly it’s time to get the warm winter clothes out.”
The colder mornings will at least be brighter. The clocks return to Greenwich mean time (GMT) at 2am on Sunday morning, making sunrise an hour earlier.
It comes as the practice of daylight saving time comes under threat across Europe, with scientists and politicians becoming increasingly concerned about the impact it has on the human sleep cycle. While the autumn change is tolerated well by most, the spring switch to daylight saving time has been found to cause symptoms similar to jet lag in some people.
Last year, the European parliament voted to reconsider daylight saving time, after a German investigation in 2016 found “the process of adaptation to the time change might be more difficult for some people than has been assumed in earlier years”.
The report called for further research, but before that happened Lithuania asked the European commission to act. A public consultation found 80% of people were in favour of abolishing the clock changes, and the European commission has since recommended member states should do so.
In many European countries, daylight saving time was introduced after the 1973 oil crisis. In Britain it dates back to the 1916 Summer Time Act.