Storm Larisa is set to bring “treacherous conditions” to the UK on Thursday night and Friday morning, with 50mph winds and up to 40cm of snow forecast in some areas.
The Met Office has issued three amber warnings for northern England, the Midlands, North Wales and Northern Ireland, where “significant disruption” to transport and power supplies is expected.
Three yellow warnings for snow also cover much of the rest of the nation, with the exception of southern England and western Scotland.
“Storm Larisa, which Meteo France have named, is the same low pressure system that is bringing us the bands of rain,” he said.
“But essentially, we’re on the northern side of the low pressure system and it’s the southern side of that low pressure system that is going to be bringing particularly strong winds to parts of France.
“So that did originate out in the Atlantic and then it tracked its way eastward towards us, and the weather fronts that are swirling around that low pressure system have then been pushing into the cold air that has been in places across the UK and allowing that rain to start falling as snow across several areas.”
Meanwhile, Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said that a pocket of western Scotland covering Glasgow and the county of Argyll may be the only region untouched by heavy rain and snow over the next 24 hours.
He said the worst of the weather is expected in north-west Wales and northern England, where “gusts of easily 50mph” are on a collision course with “30 to 40cm of snow”.
Mr Burkill said: “The combination of heavy snow and gales is why we’re likely to see blizzards and drifting snow which causes extra hazards on the roads.
“In places covered by amber warnings, there will be very difficult, treacherous conditions.
Mr Burkill added that while Devon and Cornwall should be free from the snow, the region is predicted to be hit by the strongest winds of around 60mph on Thursday evening.
People in the south of England are likely to experience the worst of the rain.
Thursday night temperatures will be similar to Wednesday, which was the coldest night of the year, before even colder conditions move in on Friday night.
The weather is expected to clear by the end of Friday, before then being replaced by another low pressure system, leading to a further yellow snow and ice warning for much of northern England and Scotland from 3pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday.
“We will then see another low pressure system, further fronts, moving their way in,” Mr Vautrey said.
“So there has been another yellow snow and ice warning issued for Scotland down into northern England for Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning where we could again see further snowfall building up throughout the weekend.
National Highways issued a “severe weather alert” for snow covering the North East, North West and Midlands regions until 8am on Friday, where motorists have been warned not to drive unless their journey is essential.
The Met Office amber snow alert for England lasts for 21 hours from 3pm on Thursday and covers major cities including Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds.
Over Wales, an amber snow and ice warning is in place from noon until 9am on Friday, stretching from the north coast to Radnorshire.
Another amber snow and ice warning in Northern Ireland covers Belfast and areas south of the city from 3pm on Thursday until 4am on Friday.