a sudden onset of a relatively brief period of cold weather.
a sudden short spell of cold weather

noun phrase

A short spell of cold weather (1776+)
Also, cold spell. A short period of unusually cold weather, as in The recent cold snap has threatened the crop. The first expression presumably likens snap in the sense of “a sudden bite or cut” to sudden unexpected cold. The variant is more obvious, spell having been used in the sense of “a bout or turn at something” since the early 1700s. [ Early 1800s ]


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