Britain could face a repeat of last year's washout summer with weeks of grey sky and rain on the way, forecasters said last night.
Early predictions show the country will be dominated by a weather system similar to that which led to one of the wettest years ever.
Experts blamed a misplaced jet stream - responsible for 2012's washout - which threatens a steady flow of rain, chilly winds and thunderstorms from the Atlantic.
The ribbon of wind, which dictates the flow of air across the country, is again wedged further south than usual, blocking warm currents from the Continent.
Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said early summer at least is looking "dire", with a cold and wet beginning to June on the cards. It is a similar picture to last year with the off-course jet stream again allowing the Atlantic to dominate, meaning weeks of wet and miserable conditions, he said.
Unsettled weather ahead is
due to the jet stream being
further south than normal,
allowing low pressure systems
to track across the UK rather
than further north"
Forecaster Reid Morrison
"Temperatures are likely to stick just around or below average. The beginning of June is looking dire, wet and miserable and everything points towards no major change from then on." He warned that this week will be colder than average for the time of year with much of the UK looking wet and windy.
Government forecasters said the jet stream is responsible for the current cool and wet conditions with no change likely for the next 10 days.
The Met Office said the next few days will be cold and unsettled with "heavy and blustery" showers and some longer spells of rain.
It said jet stream winds are stuck around 2,000 miles away from their usual position.
Forecaster Reid Morrison said: "Unsettled weather ahead is due to the jet stream being further south than normal, allowing low pressure systems to track across the UK rather than further north.
"It certainly looks like the jet stream will remain further south than normal for the next nine days.
"Last summer's unsettled weather was also due to the jet stream being further south than normal."
Last year was a washout for virtually the entire UK as weeks of unrelenting rain led to misery at summer events including Glastonbury and Wimbledon. Parts of the country were hit by devastating floods as rivers burst their banks and underground water stores overflowed.
Official figures showed the summer contributed to England's wettest year on record and the second soggiest year ever for the UK. MeteoGroup forecaster Nick Prebble said the jet stream is currently hovering around the Bay of Biscay bringing wind and rain this week.
He said: "Low pressure normally passes north-west of the UK, but high pressure is expected north-east of the UK next week, with the jet stream moving south towards the Bay of Biscay.
"This is expected to be the catalyst for low pressure passing over central or southern parts, with the tendency for more widespread rain. The jet stream can get stuck in a rut, as with the awful weather last summer."
The dire outlook is in contrast to the almost summer-like conditions enjoyed last week.
This week opens with the possibility of thunderstorms from today. Temperatures could plunge to freezing in the North with the chance of sleet across high ground.
Netweather forecaster Paul Michaelwaite said it is going to feel much cooler than average for mid-May, with temperatures hovering around single figures.
He added: "Monday keeps with the showery, cool theme with the north and west of the country likely to see the bulk of the downpours.
"Tuesday sees little change although the addition of some heavy, thundery rain in southern regions is something to keep an eye on."