The prediction of Arctic weather this winter has led experts to warn about another major spike in home heating oil prices.
Last winter the two million UK homes and businesses which rely on heating oil for cooking and central heating saw a doubling of the price in the space of a few weeks, from 40p per litre to 80p per litre.
Many people ran out as suppliers battled to get enough oil to cope in the severe weather which saw tanks freeze when temperatures plunged to nearly minus 20 in some places.
Oil lorries could not leave UK refineries on schedule because of treacherous road conditions. Now the industry is appealing to people to stock up early and take advantage of lower prices now before they soar with the onset of winter.
Chris Bale, director of whichoilsupplier.co.uk, a website which helps people track down the best deals, said “The heating oil market is a free one, and unregulated, so the law of supply and demand kicked in last winter.
“With limited oil available and huge demand, the national price went through the roof and a large number of consumers, especially those in the countryside, were left with no fuel for weeks on end.
“We predict the same price spike this year and expect it to break the £1 per litre price.
“We are encouraging people to plan ahead and ensure they have sufficient kerosene to see them through the winter.
“If El Nina brings temperatures of -20 degrees this winter, as predicted, then many people will be cut off.”
A random check today revealed an average price of between 55p and 60p a litre…which is an upward “creep” of a few pence on the cost a month or two ago, and industry insiders say they expect it to continue climbing gradually now that the colder weather is approaching.
The Met Office predicts snow will hit the Pennines and Peak District by Tuesday.
It’s predicted that daytime temperatures would fall to 6 deg C or 7 deg C (43-45F) in Scotland by Tuesday, adding: “The winds are probably coming in from the Arctic Circle.”
And towards the end of the week the Met Office has predicted a risk of gales, with a frost overnight in rural areas.
Meanwhile, the dry autumn has left East Anglia and the Midlands facing drought warnings, meaning they are likely to be hit by water restrictions in the New Year.
It followed record-breaking 29 deg C (84F) days at the beginning of October.