World weather roundup

21 01 2016

In this blog we take a look at what’s happening around the world where the weather is straying away from what’s normal or has the potential to bring disruption.

North America
A deep area of low pressure will bring the threat of severe weather across the Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia with heavy rain and severe thunderstorms combined with gale force winds. This rain may lead to more flooding in the lower Mississippi River basin.

Further north and east this system a ‘nor’easter’ will bring a risk of disruptive snow combined with gale force winds. Areas from Washington and Philadelphia up to New York are most at risk, and the US National Weather Service have issued blizzard watches for the risk of 8-12 inches of snow. There is also a risk of coastal flooding with the strong winds leading to rough seas too. Impacts on travel in the area could be significant.

Asia
Across eastern and southeast Asia a large surge of cold air will spread across China and Taiwan with further heavy falls of snow anticipated across Japan. Parts of China and Taiwan will experience temperatures some 15 degrees below the average for January, with Taipei seeing highs of 6C instead of the low 20s Celsius. Some snow is also likely here over fairly modest hills.

Further south the unseasonal weather will bring a spell of heavy rain across northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, bringing a risk of flooding.

Australasia
In the South Pacific Ocean, Tropical Storm Victor lies to the east of Tonga and is expected to pass just to the south of the islands on Friday, bringing a period of gale force winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms and a risk of coastal flooding. The weakening storm is then expected to head towards New Zealand over the weekend.

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the South Pacific are produced by the Fiji Meteorological Service. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

Europe
A large blocking area of high pressure over central and southeastern parts of Europe, which until recently also brought cold weather to the UK, will persist across these areas into the weekend.

Forecast pressure chart for midday Saturday 23 January 2016

Forecast pressure chart for midday Saturday 23 January 2016

Across Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Poland and Western Russia very cold conditions will be maintained with temperatures around 5-10C below average, but with dry weather expected.

Much of southeast Europe will also continue to feel the effects of this cold air with temperatures across inland areas well below average by day and some areas struggling to rise above freezing. Overnight minimums widely in negative double figures will compound the cold. Snowfall is also likely to lead to some disruption over Romania and then parts of Turkey, Serbia and Croatia over the coming days as weather fronts affect these areas. Next week should see a return to conditions more typical for the time of year as milder air arrives from the south and west.

Further north, the cold, still conditions are the perfect recipe for fog and freezing fog with parts of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany being affected by this during Thursday and Friday before milder air arrives over the weekend.





December on track to be the mildest on record

24 12 2015

Mowing the lawn has been the reality for some so far this December, with unseasonably high temperatures. It looks as though the UK is on track to break the record for the warmest December since records began in 1910 and some areas have also seen their wettest.

The latest temperatures for December (1st to 22nd) reveal that the month so far has been far warmer than normal. Early provisional figures* reveal that the mean temperature for December in the UK has so far has been 8.1C, which is 4.2C above the long-term average for the month and well above the previous record of 6.9C set in 1934.

The December figure for England has so far been 9.5C, that’s 5.1C above the same long-term average and 2C above the record of 7.5C set in 1934, and the other UK nations have been similarly warm:

  • the mean temperature of 9.3C in Wales, higher than the previous post-1910 record of 7.5C set in 1934, and 4.8C above average
  • the mean temperature of 5.6°C in Scotland is 2.8C above average, but is so far slightly lower than the previous December record of 5.8C set in 1988
  • the mean temperature of 7.5°C in Northern Ireland is 3C higher than average, and marginally higher than the 1988 December record

Tim Legg of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre said: “With no sign of any significantly cold weather to come in the remaining 9 days of the month, we’re on track to break the warmest December record which was set back in 1934.”

Rainfall 1 - 22 Dec 2015

Rainfall 1 – 22 Dec 2015

MeanTemperature Dec 1 - 22, 2015

MeanTemperature Dec 1 – 22, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainfall and sunshine figures so far confirm December has been dull and wet across most of the UK, with sunshine well down on the long-term average while precipitation (which of course has fallen mainly as rain) has been well above.  Some places have seen record breaking rainfall:

  • Cumberland 310.9mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 248.2mm 2006),
  • Westmorland 474.4mm 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 365.1mm 2006)
  • Dumfriesshire 314mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 307.5mm 2013)
  • Carnarvonshire 441.3mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 376.6mm 1965)
  • Roxburghshire 237.8mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 219.7mm 2013)

 

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-22 Dec 2015 Act Anom Act Anom   Act Anom
  Deg C Deg C hours % mm %
UK 8.1 4.2 17.7 43 148.0 123
England 9.5 5.1 19.8 42 86.5 99
Wales 9.3 4.8 16.3 39 237.1 143
Scotland 5.6 2.8 14.1 46 229.1 140
N Ireland 7.5 3.0 20.7 56 130.4 114

 

You can find out what the rest of the year has been like on our climate pages.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall and sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.





Mild start to December

16 12 2015

Looking at figures dating back to 1960 this has been the mildest start to December for Wales (8.7C), south west England (9.8C) and south east England (10C), and the 4th warmest for the UK as a whole (7.1C), with 1979, 2000 and 2006 being marginally milder.

Early provisional figures* (1-14 December) show the first half of December has been very mild across England and Wales with the maximum daily temperatures 3.2C above average for the UK as a whole.

However there has been a sharp north-south contrast at times with much colder air over Scotland and some frosts.  Elsewhere the humid south-westerly airflow means the weather has remained similar to last month: cloudy with very few clear nights, mild nights and very little sunshine for most areas.

Mean Temperature 1 -14 December 2015

Mean Temperature 1 -14 December 2015

 

The main talking point so far this month has been Storm Desmond, bringing record-breaking rainfall totals over the Lake District and a lot of rain over many northern areas.

Around 200% of the whole month’s normal rainfall has already fallen in a few places in the Pennines and the Lake District, it has also been wet in Snowdonia and parts of southern & central Scotland.  There has been near-normal rainfall across many other areas, and actually below average, for this point in the month, in parts of southern England.

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-14 Dec 2015 Act deg C Anom deg C   Act Hours Anom %   Act mm Anom %  
Regions            
UK 7.1 3.2 13.4 33 100.2 83
England 8.6 4.3 15.7 33 56.7 65
Wales 8.7 4.2 11.0 26 140.9 85
Scotland 4.2 1.4 10.4 34 161.6 99
N Ireland 6.1 1.6 13.1 35 99.0 87

 

Despite the mild start to winter following on from a mild autumn, it looks like 2015 will be an average year as far as weather is concerned.

This year’s damp and cool spring and summer mean that despite the current mild spell, the rainfall, temperature and sunshine statistics for the year as a whole are all hovering around average, with just 17 days left until the end of the year.

Indications are that the unsettled weather will continue through Christmas and into the new year. Showers or longer spells of rain are expected across all parts, with the heaviest and most persistent rain in the north and west, and the best of the drier conditions across south-east England.

We can expect gales at times, again especially in the north and west. Temperatures will be closer to average than of late, but still generally above, with any snowfall restricted to the high ground of Scotland and northern England.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall and sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.





Turning colder for this weekend

18 11 2015

Cold weather is expected this weekend courtesy of an arctic maritime airmass spreading across the country from the north. Everyone will notice a change in the weather after the second mildest start to November on record.

On Friday the cold air will begin to spread southwards with showers falling as snow over high ground in the north and increasingly to lower levels here later. Across northern and eastern Scotland and the northeast of England accumulations of 1-4cm are likely in places at low levels, whereas above around 150m around 5-10cm could accumulate. Furthermore, overnight Friday and into Saturday other areas of the UK could see snow, with some accumulations possible, mainly over high ground.

Strong to gale force north or northwesterly winds are also likely Friday night and Saturday across central and southern Britain and will enhance the cold feel in what will be the coldest air of the season so far. There is a risk of severe gales with gusts of 60-70mph in the most exposed locations.

Yellow ‘be aware’ National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued for the risk of impacts as a result of the snow and wind.

Pressure chart for midnight Saturday 21 November 2015

By Saturday the cold air will be in place across all parts of the UK with a mixture of sunny spells and wintry showers likely over the rest of the weekend, with any settling only likely to be temporary because the ground is so warm after the recent mild spell. However, many places inland will avoid the showers and see some good sunny spells. To see what weather you can expect in your area, check out our forecast pages.

In a stark contrast to recent days when temperatures have been well above average for the time of year, we can expect temperatures to be below average with maximum daytime values of around 3-7 degrees Celsius. Overnight minimum temperatures are likely to drop below freezing away from coasts, to give a widespread frost, with the risk of some icy patches where showers have fallen during the day.

TodVSwkend2

Chief Operational Meteorlogist Frank Saunders said: “With strong winds and some snow forecast for this weekend there is the likelihood of some difficult driving conditions and disruption to transport. There remains some uncertainty regarding the strength of the wind and snow amounts and so if you have travel plans over the weekend we’d advise that you keep an eye on the warnings for your area.”

Although this will be the first widespread cold spell of the season, it is fairly typical for mid-late November and it’s not unusual to see snow to lower levels in the north of the UK in late autumn. In recent years the most notable snow event was in late November 2010 when there was lying snow across parts of northern and eastern Britain.

This cold spell will be fairly short-lived with temperatures expected to return to more typical values for the time of year early next week with the weather remaining unsettled.





Warm start to November

16 11 2015

Early provisional figures* (1-15 November) show the first half of November has been very mild with maximum daily temperatures 3.8C above average for the UK

Central England Temperature data set shows the start to the month has been the second warmest since this record began in 1772.

Local temperature records have been broken at various stations with only November 1938 seeing a warmer start to the month.

There has been an absence of frosts in almost all areas, largely because a humid south-westerly airflow means the weather has been cloudy and there have been very few clear nights.

 

MeanTemp 1-15 November 2015

MeanTemp 1-15 November 2015

The increased cloud means most areas have seen very little in the way of sun, with levels well below normal across southern and central England and also south-west Scotland. At this time in the month we would expect to see 50% of the monthly average however very few places have had as much as this and the UK as a whole has seen just 32% and Wales has seen less than half the sunshine we would expect mid month.   In the case of southern England it has also been remarkably dull, with some stations having only had 10 hours or less of bright sunshine in 15 days.

For many the start of the month has been wet, with the UK as a whole having had 75% of the whole months average rainfall (we would expect to see 50% at this time of the month). Parts of southern & central Scotland, the Lake District, Pennines and Snowdonia are among the areas already well above their whole-month average. However it was not a wet picture across the whole country, north-east Scotland and most of southern & eastern England have had slightly less rain than would be expected by this point in the month.

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-15 Nov 2015 Act Anom  Act Anom  Act Anom 
  degC degC hours % mm %
Regions            
UK 10.0 3.8 18.1 32 90.5 75
England 11.2 4.3 17.5 27 59.8 68
Wales 10.7 3.9 20.3 36 128.5 79
Scotland 8.0 3.0 18.4 40 132.5 80
N Ireland 9.6 3.1 18.3 34 83.1 74

 

For the rest of November indications are that after an unsettled week the weather will turn colder with temperatures dropping nearer to the expected average for Novemeber if not a little below.  However milder conditions look likely to return for a time at the end of the month with rain and strong winds for much of the UK.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall & sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.





Warm, sunny and dry October

30 10 2015

Early provisional figures (1-28 October) show sunshine and temperatures were above normal in almost all places this month while rainfall has been below average, especially in western areas.

Much of October has been relatively settled, with high pressure dominating our weather. This has led to many dry, sunny days but cold nights and even a few frosts (coldest so far -5.0 °C at Braemar on 17th).  Although the end of the month so far has been more unsettled, it has remained milder than average.

Rainfall has been below average, especially in the west of the UK, with only around 30% of average in eastern parts of Wales.  The exception to this has been a band from Cambridgeshire to North Yorkshire and around Aberdeen where rainfall has been around average (at the time these figures were compiled we would expect around 90% of the month’s total rainfall and sunshine to have happened).

1-28 October 2015 sunshine

1-28 October 2015 sunshine

1-28 October 2015 rainfall

1-28 October 2015 rainfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maximum temperatures (daytime) have been above normal in almost all areas for October, with north west Scotland being 2°C above, while south-east England stayed around average.  However cooler nights have led to Mean temperatures (average of daytime and night-time temperatures) over most of England and Wales being near average, but a degree or so above in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-28 Oct 2015 Act Anom Act Anom Act Anom
  degC degC hours % mm %
Regions            
UK 9.9 0.4 88.5 96 61.6 48
England 10.6 0.2 89.5 87 50.5 55
Wales 10.0 0.1 89.0 96 64.3 38
Scotland 8.6 0.7 85.4 113 78.4 45
N Ireland 9.8 0.4 94.7 108 64.8 54

 

Meanwhile Halloween starts off cloudy or foggy for many with some patchy rain across northern parts.  However this clears leaving a mild day with patchy sunshine for many in the afternoon.   Sunday, 1st November, looks much the same staying mostly dry with some sunny spells.  Check out our five day forecast for more details.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall & sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

 

 





What are the prospects for the weather in the coming winter?

29 10 2015

Anyone who has read the newspapers lately can’t have failed to notice this winter’s weather is in the headlines. Justification for claims of a ‘big freeze’ has come from sources as diverse as the plucky Bewick Swan settling into the comfort of the WWT reserve at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire earlier than ever before, to the strong El Niño and cool North Atlantic Ocean.

But what can we genuinely say about prospects for the coming winter, and what is the influence from phenomena like El Niño? Jeff Knight, from the Met Office Monthly to Decadal Prediction team explains.

In the Met Office we produce outlooks for the UK weather as a whole over three monthly periods. These outlooks are not forecasts in the conventional sense, although they are still made using computer prediction models. While a forecast might say ‘it will rain tomorrow’, the chaotic nature of the atmosphere beyond a few days ahead leads to growing forecast uncertainty, making it meaningless to try to make the same kind of forecast for a day in three months’ time.

Fortunately, atmospheric chaos is only part of the story and, when we consider the broad characteristics of the weather over a three month period, we can see influences from a range of global climate factors that we can endeavor to predict. While the unpredictable part means there is always a range of possible outcomes, the part we can try to predict allows us the opportunity to identify which types of weather are more likely than others. As a result, our outlooks are more useful for professionals who need to assess risk, such as contingency planners, than the public generally. Our current outlook covers the period from November to January.

So what are the global drivers that might influence our weather this winter?

El Niño is the biggest news story currently in global climate. This episodic warming of the waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean occurs every few years – the last event happened in 2009-10. This ocean warming covers an area about 1,000 km wide and 13,000 km long, stretching along the equator from the South American coast to the West Pacific. El Niño events release a vast quantity of oceanic heat into the atmosphere so it is not surprising that El Niño has effects on weather across the globe.

This year’s El Niño started to grow in April and it has now become a strong, mature event similar to the landmark 1997-8 event. Typically, growth will peak around the end of the year and decline during the first half of the following year. We have already seen its effect on global weather systems: this summer’s Indian monsoon rainfall fell to drought levels and very hot, dry conditions in Indonesia have contributed to widespread forest fires.

Currently, the outlook for El Niño is for further growth over the next two months. Events are often ranked in terms of sea surface temperatures in Central Pacific, and by this measure, this year’s El Niño is more likely than not to become the strongest on record. Temperatures further east near to South America are likely to be not quite as exceptional as in 1997-8. No two El Niños are identical and even very similar events have slightly different characteristics.

What does El Niño imply for the UK this winter?

Unlike some parts of the world, the effect of El Niño on Europe is relatively subtle. In El Niño years there is a tendency for early winter to be warmer and wetter than usual and late winter to be colder and drier. Despite this, it is just one of the factors that influence our winters, so other influences can overwhelm this signal – it is relatively straightforward, for example, to find years where these general trends were not followed.

What about the Atlantic Ocean?

Closer to home, sea surface temperatures to the west of the UK have been notably lower-than-average in recent months. While it is true the westerly winds that we typically get in winter would have to pass over this region, it is unlikely that this will directly have a strong bearing on expected temperatures. This is because temperatures at this time of year are strongly affected by the direction of the wind. Eastern Europe and Scandinavia are 10-20°C colder than the Atlantic Ocean in winter, so our weather will depend much more on how often winds blow in from the north and east than whether the Atlantic is 1-2°C cooler than usual.

More broadly within the North Atlantic Ocean, sub-tropical temperatures to the south of this cool region are widely above average. This combination results in an increased north-south temperature gradient, which is expected to provide greater impetus for Atlantic depressions. For the UK, this would favour relatively mild, unsettled weather conditions.

Global sea surface temperature anomaly 28 October 2015

Global sea surface temperature anomaly 28 October 2015

Our weather is also affected by changes in the stratosphere

European winters are also sensitive to what is happening in the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere between 10 and 50 km up that lies above the weather. The equatorial stratosphere is home to the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO), a cycle that sees winds switch from easterly to westerly and back roughly every 27 months. First noted by Met Office scientists over 40 years ago, the link with European winter weather has stood the test of time. This year, the QBO is in a westerly phase, which implies an increased chance of a mild and wet winter at the surface.

A considerable part of the year-to-year differences between UK winters is related to the occurrence of sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs). In these events, the polar stratospheric vortex – the fast moving circulation of stratospheric air that whirls around the North Pole in winter – abruptly breaks down. They occur one winter in two on average, and events are most common in January or February. In the majority of cases SSWs lead to the establishment of cold easterly flow at the surface across Europe and the UK. The last SSW was in January 2013, and this event contributed to the cold late winter and early spring in that year.

Whether we get an SSW or not depends on a number of influences, such as El Niño and the QBO. Currently our models suggest an increased likelihood of an SSW from January onwards. If this were to happen, its effects would not be felt much before the end of our November to January outlook period. At the moment, therefore, this is still a long way off, and we consider this suggestion to be tentative.

So what can we expect in the UK this winter?

Most of the global drivers discussed above tend to increase the chances of westerly weather patterns during our November to January outlook period. Our numerical prediction model, being sensitive to these drivers, also predicts a higher-than-normal chance of westerly conditions. This results in an outlook for an increased chance of milder- and wetter-than-usual conditions, and a decreased chance of colder and drier conditions, for the UK. Our outlook also indicates an increase in the risk of windy or even stormy weather.

It should be noted that these shifts in probability do not rule out the less favoured types of weather completely. Also, a general tendency for one type of weather over the three months as a whole does not preclude shorter spells of other types of weather.

Finally, there are hints that the outlook might be rather different in the late winter, with an increased risk of cold weather developing. Nevertheless, it is currently too early to be confident about this signal.





World weather this week

26 10 2015

Southern USA
After making landfall on Saturday 23 October as a category 5 hurricane, Hurricane Patricia weakened rapidly as it moved over the mountains of Mexico. Hurricane Patricia became the deepest hurricane on record with minimum central pressure of 879hPa, beating the previous record of 882hPa set by Hurricane Wilma in the Atlantic in 2005. The remnants of Patricia formed an area of low pressure over the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend and brought intense rainfall to the southern states of the USA. Severe flood impacts were reported in parts of Texas and Louisiana with up to 500mm of rain reported. New Orleans reported 220mm in the last 24 hours with an unconfirmed total of 457mm in 24 hours at Corsicana, Texas. This torrential rain also led to delays at the USA Grand Prix. The eastern fringes of Texas, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas are at risk of receiving another 100-200mm of rainfall today (Monday) bringing further flooding impacts. Looking ahead, further heavy rainfall will affect areas of the Pacific coast of Mexico that were impacted by Patricia; Texas and Louisiana from Friday with another 200mm or more of rain. This will exacerbate the current flooding in these regions.

Hurricane Patricia

Map showing rainfall totals across Mexico and the southern states of the USA

Eastern Mediterranean
A spell of very unsettled weather is affecting the eastern Mediterranean bringing heavy rainfall, localised flooding to the Levant coasts along with reports of baseball-sized hail in parts of Egypt. This weather will continue to move eastwards across countries such as Syria, Israel, Lebanon and into Iraq and Iran over the coming days with daily rainfall likely to approach 100mm. This will lead to a risk of flash flooding and may be accompanied by further damaging hail.

Sri Lanka and SE India

Heavy rain associated with the northeasterly monsoon has brought some high rainfall totals across Sri Lanka with 89mm recently recorded in 3 hours. There is a risk of a tropical depression forming in the southern Bay of Bengal this week which would bring further very heavy rainfall across Sri Lanka and SE India. Some places may see up to 200mm a day, with an event total of up to 600mm. This will lead to significant flood and landslide risk across this region, with the large Indian city of Chennai and Sri Lanka capital Colombo at risk.

Eastern Canada/NE USA and eastern Europe

Over next weekend and early next week, a cold plunge of air is likely to dip southwards across the eastern provinces of Canada and far northeastern states of the USA such as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachussetts. Daytime temperatures may only just rise above freezing in what will be a fairly early cold snap for the regions.

Cold air will also sink southwards from the arctic to bring an early taste of winter to eastern Europe affecting Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and also western Russia.





Warm, dry, sunny start to October

16 10 2015

The first half of October has been dominated by high pressure, giving a warm, dry, sunny start to October across the UK.

The month started with some weather fronts crossing the UK bringing rain in places. However the mid month statistics* (1 -14th October 2015) show that from the 5th onwards a high pressure system has dominated our weather bringing dry, settled conditions for most of us.

However, because of the position high pressure, we have seen relatively cool air coming in from the north-east. This has resulted in plenty of pleasant, sunny days, particularly in western areas, but with temperatures dropping away at night and a few frosts in places (coldest in this period -3.7 °C at Altnaharra on 13th).  Sunshine hours and maximum temperatures so far this month have been above average, but many places have seen night time temperatures below what we would expect, meaning the overall mean temperatures so far are above average for the whole of October.

MeanTemp Oct 1-14 2015

Rainfall has been well below normal in western areas, although closer to what would be expected by this point in the month in some eastern parts of the UK.  As a whole the UK has seen just 20% of the expected monthly rainfall so far, well short of the 50% we would expect to see by mid month.

1-14 Oct 2015 mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 10.3 0.8 57.1 62 25.5 20
England 11 0.6 60.7 59 25.2 27
Wales 10.4 0.5 60.2 65 24.8 15
Scotland   9.1 1.2 49.7 66 28.5 16
N Ireland 10.3 0.9 61.4 70 12.1 10

Of course, while these figures are interesting, they don’t tell us where the month will end up overall. Latest forecasts show that the settled weather is expected to continue for many over the next few days, before conditions become generally more unsettled across the UK with outbreaks of rain and stronger winds, interspersed with drier, brighter periods as we head towards the end of the month.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.





Do swans herald snow for the UK?

13 10 2015

There has been some speculation that the UK may be in for a cold winter after the arrival of a migrating Bewick’s swan from Russia.

The swan arrived at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire on Sunday 11 October, the earliest date since records began at the site in 1963.  It is thought low temperatures, snowfall and north easterly winds in Russia have encouraged Bewick’s swans to start their westwards migration through Europe early this year. The swans have also been spotted gathering on lakes in the Netherlands.

First Berwick's swan spotted in Gloucestershire. Credit: MJ McGill

First Berwick’s swan spotted in Gloucestershire. Credit: MJ McGill

WWT studies have shown that the weather is a major influence on when Bewick’s swans migrate from Russia, with the wind direction being a particularly crucial factor.

Unusually cold weather has developed over a large part of continental Europe and is likely to persist through this week with temperatures around 5-10 degrees below average. Daytime temperatures in Russia on Monday were around 3-4C which is more like the average nightime temperature for this time of year. The cold weather is extending further west and south going as far south as the Mediterranean coast of France and north east Spain. Snow has fallen over southern Poland, western Ukraine and eastern Slovakia.

Eur Coldwave 131015

 

WWT’s Julia Newth said:
“Apparently there’s a Russian saying ‘the swan brings snow on its bill’, because they tend to move just ahead of the cold weather. Of course, we can’t infer much from the arrival of a single swan but it’s certainly exciting this bird has arrived so early.
“It’s only a year old and, because it’s made it all the way here on its own, we assume that it must have come to Slimbridge last year as a cygnet with its parents. We record all the Bewick’s swans that come to Slimbridge each winter by their unique bill pattern as part of our study and give them a name. This one needed a name, so we’ve called him Record Breaker.”

The public can see the Bewick’s swans at WWT Slimbridge where they are fed daily from November 1 to the end of February. They can also be seen via the webcam.

Will the cold weather in Europe affect the UK?
High pressure is currently dominating the weather over the UK with winds from the east bringing cold air. Many places will stay dry with bright days and chilly nights with temperatures around, or a little below, average for the time of year. However, there will be some showers, especially along eastern coasts and in the southeast of England over the next few days.

Eur Cold 131015

There is no sign of any snow for the UK, but low overnight temperatures will allow some localised frost and fog to form. Take a look at our forecast pages for the latest weather for your area. At this stage it is too early to speculate what weather this winter may bring to the UK.








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