Around 3-8cm of snow could affect the Midlands as warnings are issued of travel disruption and health fears for large parts of the country.
A cold weather front is to sweep in with temperatures expected to drop as much as 10C to below zero overnight.
A Met Office yellow "be aware" warning is in place for large parts of England, from the North West to East Anglia, and forecasters asked the public to be aware of possible disruption to travel, while health officials urged people to take extra care.
Around 3-8cm of snow is predicted to fall over parts of northern England, possibly reaching as far as Yorkshire and Humber and the Midlands, and up to 5-10cm of snow could blanket much of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A Met Office forecast said: "An active cold front is expected to push south east, introducing an increasingly cold and unstable air mass.
"Showers will become frequent and heavy, falling primarily as snow and driven well inland by strong to gale force northwesterly winds.
"Commuters and other travellers seem likely to face a variety of winter hazards, especially early on Thursday, although it's likely that snowfall in some areas may be more patchy, particularly towards the east."
Billy Payne of forecaster MeteoGroup said: "We will certainly notice a drop in temperatures from in the region of 10C to, by the end of the day, 4C or 5C and widely dropping below zero overnight - down to minus 5C in high ground in the north."
While the cold weather is set to remain into early next week, Mr Payne said, it is unlikely the UK could experience an impact from the heavy blizzards hitting much of the north-eastern coast of the US.
Meanwhile, Dr Angie Bone, head of extreme events team at Public Health England, said: "In this sort of weather we know that older people and people in poor health tend to stay indoors.
"While this is sensible, it's worth remembering these people may need help getting to a hospital or GP appointment, with shopping or prescription fetching, or just someone to talk to. If you know someone in this situation, and most of us do, think about what you can you do to help out.
"Contrary to popular belief, it's actually working age adults who have most slips and trips outside in cold and icy weather, not older people, which is why it's important to wear shoes with a good, slip-resistant grip to prevent any accidental falls."
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