Temperatures across Cheshire have gone from frosty to fine in the space of just a few days, reaching double the average for this time of year.

The region has seen highs of up to 14°C this morning – a stark contrast to last week’s chilly weather which saw temperatures plunge to a freezing -6°C and the gritters out on the roads.

Met Office officials say the unseasonably warm weather is due a phenomena called the Foehn effect (gusty warm downslope winds) which has pushed temperatures well above 7.2°C – the average for December.

It will remain warm tonight, with the barometer staying at about 12°C, while forecasters predict tomorrow will also be warmer than usual at 12-13°C.

A Met Office spokesman said: “Temperatures across the UK are much warmer than usual today.

“There is a plunge of cold air across the USA and Canada which is strengthening the jet stream.

“We won’t see the cold air across the UK though as the position of the jet stream will bring milder and more changeable weather."

There will be a risk of rain, sometimes heavy, tomorrow but it will continue to feel unseasonably mild.

A spokesman said: “A band of rain will sweep in again on Friday, bringing heavy downpours.”

Met Office chiefs have said it is too early to say whether we will have our first white Christmas in six years.

It is expected that forecasters will be able to make a prediction for snow next week at the earliest.

There was a 'near miss' two years ago, when snow blanketed the region on Boxing Day.