Snow could reach up to 10cm on the highest ground with weather experts warning of dangerous icy patches and lightning strikes from isolated storms.
Thundersnow could hit parts of the UK with showers and lightning strikes potentially knocking homes off of the power grid, forecasters have warned.
The Met Officehas warned of dangerous weather conditions in Scotland and areas of England on Thursday and Friday.
As much as 10cm of snow could fall on the highest ground, as well as the risk of dangerous icy patches and of lightning strikes from isolated thunderstorms.
A yellow weather warning, which includes Glasgow, is set to be in place from 8pm on Thursday until 11am on Friday.
The alert stretches along the east of Scotland and into the north of England beyond Manchester and also includes some of Northern Ireland, forecasters said.
It also includes the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Central, Tayside and Fife, the south-west, Strathclyde, Lothian and Borders.
Met Office spokesperson Grahame Madge said: “As conditions get cold tonight, we’re seeing temperatures drop down to freezing quite widely.
“As we get the cold air, that will bring the temperatures right down, we’ve got the weather front coming in from the west and that moisture is going to bump into the cold air and where you get that you will get snow.”
The weather front is not expected to hit until the early hours of Thursday morning.
On Thursday, the Met Office issued a separate warning of snow blanketing the Highlands through to Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north of England with possible road disruptions.
Snow could fall for several hours in many areas bringing a risk of slushy surfaces and difficult travel conditions.
On higher routes, strong winds could lead to drifting and blizzard conditions.
The alert is in place from 10am to 4pm.
Mr Madge added that the prospect of thundersnow was driven by the same conditions which cause thunder in the summer where the temperature is different between the ground and the air surrounding it.
He said: “Because you have got that differential it’s possible, quite easily, for warm air at ground level when it heats up to start to rise very quickly up through the cold air and that’s what creates the potential for thunderstorms.
“So we are likely to see along with the other wintery showers, likely to see hail and snow.”
Thundersnow is not meteorologically different to thunder in the summer, but rather than hail or rain there is snow which can affect the acoustics of the thunder, the forecaster said.
It comes as winter begins to bite after a record-breaking mild new year.
Temperatures in the early hours of Thursday could feel as cold as -4C in Glasgow while commuters in Edinburgh face temperatures as low as -3C.
In Braemar, Aberdeenshire, the mercury could plunge to -8C in the early hours, and when the wind is taken into account it could feel as cold as -11C.
In Inverness, Scotland’s northernmost city, temperatures will feel as low as -4C and it will remain bitterly cold throughout Thursday.
In advance of the freezing temperatures, Traffic Scotland has urged people to drive with care because of the risk of ice.