IT was a year of highs and lows where the bitterest winter in decades was followed by a long, sweltering summer.

Last year saw Scotland hit with the very best and worst the weather could throw at the country, with a once-in-a-decade snowstorm blanketing the country for days, followed by months of record-breaking temperatures and low rainfall.

And while predicting the weather is never an exact science, forecasters say that we will have to get used to more extreme events and temperature swings as climate change and global warming makes an impact, even in the short term.

The winter of 2018 will long be remembered for the arrival of the Beast from the East, a cold weather front pushed south from Siberia at the end of February, bringing freezing conditions and heavy snowfall for days.

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The severe weather caused widespread disruption on the roads, with drivers trapped overnight on the M80 and elsewhere in the Central Belt.

Red weather warnings - the highest category - were issued for much of the country, which slowed to a standstill as the cold snap took hold.

Overall, March was the coldest on record since 1962, while 28 February - the day the storm arrived - was colder than any day since 1995.

Businesses were closed and roads became impassable for several days, as services became stretched trying to cope with the severe wintery conditions.

Recently published data from the Met Office revealed that temperatures dropped to below zero for several days across the country,

But with the wind chill effect factored in, forecasters say it would have felt as low as -10C for anyone out and about - colder than parts of the Arctic Circle at the time.

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Helen Roberts, Senior Operational Meteorologist at the Met Office, said that the unusual weather patterns of 2018 could occur more frequently in the future

She said: “The Beast from the East and the long, hot summer were both unusual events, bringing extreme weather to some parts of the country.

“The winter storm was very prolonged, and that was the main thing which differentiated it with other cold snaps. We had significant snowfall and very low temperatures for days on end.”

As the freezing spring gave way to summer, the picture flipped as a long period of warm, dry weather arrived in June.

The summer would see several records broken. Average temperatures peaked at 25C across July, and there were several days where the mercury climbed even higher.

On 28 June thermometers in Glasgow hit 31.C, the hottest day for that month for 104 years.

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READ MORE: Heatwave temperatures could break all-time record​

However, the heatwave led to water shortage warnings,  with some parts of Scotland having seen just one third of the expected rainfall for June.

The hot weather continued until the end of July,before gradually cooling down.

Ms Roberts said that this might be a sign of things to come, adding: “The dry spell we had during the summer is expected to become much more common in the future. With climate change and global warming we are likely to see this becoming the norm over the medium term.

“The cold snap is not as likely to happen again for a while, but we can’t rule anything out.”

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Matt Dobson, senior forecaster at Meteogroup, agreed. He said: “The summer was quite unusual when looked at in the context of the past ten years. While we didn’t see the overall average temperature record for the summer broken, there were a number of monthly records that did fall.

“We are seeing substantially more extreme weather events and there’s the chance of seeing some of those temperatures being repeated.”

He added that the cold snap at the start of the year may have influenced the hotter weather of the summer, something which might happen again in 2019.

Mr Dobson said:: “There are some things going on in the upper atmosphere which we think may have a knock on effect in the early part of next year.

“In late June and February we could see some very cold weather. It’s difficult to say, but there’s a tenuous link between a cold spell during those weeks to a hotter summer.

“It’s happened in the past, but we’ll have to wait and see if it bears out this year.”

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