Britain is on storm alert with up to half a month’s rain forecast for parts of the country on Wednesday. Torrential downpours and coastal gales will bring an abrupt halt to the mild and relatively calm spring weather.
Forecasters warn things will start to turn unsettled on Tuesday with northern and western regions first in the firing line.
Cumbria and northern England is braced for around an inch of rain – almost half a month’s worth – over the next 48 hours.
The Met Office said winds could hit gale-force in some regions with gusts of 50mph likely across exposed coasts.
Forecaster Alex Burkill said: “It is going to turn unsettled as the week goes on with showers pushing into Wales and parts of England from Tuesday night into Wednesday.
“These will spread eastwards and there could be some heavier bursts with dry spells in between.
“Rain will continue to move eastwards across all parts of the UK on Wednesday and although Thursday starts more settled another area of low pressure will come in from the west.
“We could see gales across parts of the north with gusts touching 50mph in exposed regions with heavy bursts of rain turning thundery locally.”
He said after a warmer day on Tuesday it will start to feel cooler as the week goes on with highs of 17C or 18C nationwide.
Netweather said thermometers will dip to low single figures overnight in the north with the south struggling to get much above 9C (48F) or 10C (50F).
Forecaster Jo Farrow said: “After a quiet start, there will be rain about this week as our weather begins to feed in from the Atlantic once more.
“Through Tuesday night low pressure moves over northern Britain and there will be a lot of cloud and further outbreaks of rain.
“Cumbria could see 25mm (an inch) of rain by Wednesday.
“Bands of rain and blustery conditions continue to feed in from the west or southwest for the end of the working week into the weekend.”
Experts blame the miserable outlook on the jet stream which is about to move over the UK dragging in stormy Atlantic weather.
The fine weather during the start of May was triggered by the jet shifting northwards allowing warmer air in from the Continent.
The good news is things look set to pick up by the end of the month with some forecasters promising a summer sizzler ahead.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said: “We are expecting an unsettled spell of weather with widespread showers for many from the middle part of this week, in particular, in parts to the west of the country.
“This will be accompanied by some strengthening and rather windy conditions at times.
“However, there will still be some decent spells of sunshine and drier weather to be had in among the widespread showers or longer spells of rain.
“Throughout the weekend and into next week will begin to see the start of some much warmer weather pushing in across the south and east of the country from dominant high pressure.”