It’s far too early to tell whether Dorset will see a return of the Beast from the East, say forecasters.

Following reports this week that Britain faces a new big freeze this winter, experts say it cannot be predicted.

Scientists from University College London have forecast an average temperature of 3.9C (39F) for January to February next year in central England - which they said was 0.5C below the 1981 to 2010 average for the same period.

After studying sea temperatures and air pressure over the north Atlantic Ocean, climate experts have suggested January and February 2020 could be among the coldest for decades.

This would be caused by the jet stream - strong winds that move weather systems across from the Atlantic to Britain - deflecting southwards for weeks around Christmas, allowing freezing air to dominate.

The predictions for over four months' time are one of the longest-range UK weather forecasts ever attempted.

A Met Office spokesperson said: “It is hard for us to comment on someone else’s research.

“From our perspective our longest outlook is three months and wouldn’t be used for daily or even weekly forecasting. It doesn’t reach as far as this research is predicting.”

Local weather expert, DorsetSun also supported the Met Office, saying: “Aware of some very dodgy articles doing the rounds at the moment.

“There is absolutely no way of knowing what winter has in hold for us at this moment in time. Eventually we will get a very cold winter and no doubt they will be taking the credit.”