THE North-East is braced for wintery conditions to hit as temperatures plunge this week, with forecasters even predicting snow by the end of the week.

After a relatively mild start to the week, Met Office forecasters say temperatures are set to tumble this week and snow is likely to hit many parts of the region by Thursday and Friday, and well into next week.

They predict a period of 'unsettled' weather right through until mid-December with hail, sleet and snow likely.

The official forecast for this week said: "Rain Wednesday morning clearing to scattered showers, wintry on hills. Thursday and Friday cold with showers or longer spells of rain, some snow on hills and perhaps to lower levels."

And for the period from December 5 to 15, forecasters said: "The period will start unsettled across all parts of the UK, with areas of heavy rain and showers, locally of soft hail, sleet and snow likely, and possibly more widespread snow over some hills and mountains.

"Often windy, especially around coasts, but in quieter interludes overnight there will remain the potential for some patchy frost, and isolated mist and freezing fog.

"Temperatures are expected to be a below average overall. Later in this period, it could turn drier and more settled with a chance of high pressure moving in from the north, bringing brisk easterly winds.

"Again, where winds fall lighter, overnight frost and patchy fog is likely, this perhaps most likely in the north. Near, to slightly below, average temperatures are most likely."