Significant snow fall across Britain is expected to cause disruption throughout the day and on Tuesday as the possibility of a white Easter looms.

The southern counties of England are expected to take the brunt of heavy, repeated snow showers moving in from the south west, followed by a second band of wintery weather which will hit eastern and central parts of Scotland and England.

But there is potential for a dusting of snow in all areas bringing with it a risk of travel problems for morning and evening rush hour.

Up to 10cms will settle in the worst affected areas, including Kent, Sussex and southern Hampshire, as well as over higher ground in areas like the Pennines, while large areas could see around up to 4cm accumulate.

The arrival of snow and freezing temperatures is not only expected to cause havoc on the roads but also in the trees, as birds who have recently returned to Britain expecting springtime weather struggle with the surprise cold snap. Temperatures will remain below freezing in many areas in the next few days, with minimum temperatures as low as -7C.

James Wilby, forecaster for Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "One band of snow will move in from the south west spreading east along the coast and southern regions to Kent and moving as far north as the M4 corridor. There will be a build up of up to 4cms most areas, and up to 10cms in the worst hit - London will also see a few cms in some places. This snow will continue overnight and begin easing on Tuesday morning, and will be accompanied with strong gusts of wind."

He said that further snow showers in the east and central parts of Scotland and England may not settle for long, but will last throughout today and Tuesday. "There will be a pattern of snow falling and the sun coming out to melt it, before more snow falls and is melted again. But in all areas the snow will sporadic, areas only ten miles apart will see big differences from heavy snow fall to no snow fall."

Senior meteorologist Julian Mayes of Meteogroup added that the freezing temperatures which will accompany the snow fall makes this possibly the chilliest weather of the winter season.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning of snow in the south west and yellow warnings across east Scotland and England and in the southern regions, urging the public to be prepared for disruption.

Motoring services firm RAC said it expects potential breakdowns to increase by 20% over the next few days and have an increased number of patrols planned. The firm said motorists should "proceed with caution".