Met Office in the Media: 8 January 2011

Snowy weather pushed north across parts of the UK yesterday bringing snow to some areas as expected.  The snow was fairly temporary for many as rain followed and tended to melt the snow that had fallen.  Overnight snow fell across parts of southern and eastern Scotland, leading to the closure of Edinburgh airport, with 7cm recorded at Edinburgh and as much as 10cm across other parts of eastern Scotland.

We had issued severe weather warnings of heavy snow for several Scottish regions, including Grampian, Strathclyde, Central, Tayside and Fife, south-west Scotland and Lothian and Borders.  Further falls of snow are expected across parts of Scotland through today.

Elsewhere across the UK, it is much milder, and the snow of yesterday has quickly thawed.

This snow is certainly not a return to the “big freeze” of last month and the sudden snow would “vanish as quickly as it arrived”, Helen Chivers, forecaster at the Met Office, said: “Really, it’s just normal wintry weather we’ve got over the next few days. As we go into next week, it’s going to be very much milder.” reports The Sun.

Elsewhere the Evening Standard has run a story suggesting the London Olympics in 2012 are at risk of being affected by a solar storm that could lead to problems with infrastructure.  This follows evidence the Met Office gave to the parliamentary Science and Technology sub-committee last October.  However the story has been reported rather dramatically.

The Met Office is not making any prediction that an intense solar storm, and associated disruption, will occur during the next solar cycle. Indeed, this sort of prediction is simply not possible for anyone to make this far ahead.

However, increased activity of solar storms is known to occur around or just after the solar maximum with the next expected around 2012 or 2013 and work directed by the Cabinet Office is underway to identify a properly reasonable scenario to inform the UK’s contingency planning.

Space weather is a relatively new science but understanding is growing rapidly and here at the Met Office we are building on our existing capabilities to develop a resilient operational warning service. We are working with the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre in the US to enable both organisations to advance the science more rapidly, to accelerate the development of improved models and space weather.

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