What is a ‘Spanish Plume’?

There has been a lot of talk about warm weather expected across parts of England again this weekend.  Temperatures are forecast to reach the mid to high 20’s C on Friday and into the weekend, bringing the risk of thundery showers for some.  It has been reported that a ‘Spanish Plume’ is responsible for this. Here, Ewen McCallum, Met Office Chief Meteorologist explains what a ‘Spanish Plume’ is?

‘Spanish Plume’ is actually a rather catchy name for a rather complex meteorological phenomenon which leads to warm conditions and heavy showers or thunderstorms over parts of the UK and north-west Europe.

As the name suggests it is a plume of very warm air that pushes north from the Spanish plateau and reaches the British Isles on a southerly airflow.  Of course over the UK we are normally affected by much cooler Atlantic air as cold fronts encroach from the west. Now when these two air masses meet, the very warm ‘plume’ air is forced to rise vigorously over the cooler Atlantic air and as a result produces thunderstorms. Because these features can cover large areas the storms are often grouped together and can give widespread, heavy rainfall, often accompanied by hail.

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