Cold weather winning the war of probabilities

Late last week we put out a blog article about an unusual amount of uncertainty in the longer range forecast (for the start of February onwards) for the UK.

This is because the atmosphere is currently in a finely balanced state and, depending on which way it goes, this could lead to a continuation of milder weather or a switch to much colder conditions – with frosts, ice and snow possible.

It comes down to whether we’ll continue to see the current pattern of westerly winds bringing in milder conditions from the Atlantic, or whether a high pressure system developing over Russia will extend towards the UK to bring in cold air on easterly winds.

The Met Office and forecast centres around the world have been studying this situation closely but the 50/50 split on which outcome is the most likely has persisted – until now.

It now looks as if the scenario for colder conditions is slightly more likely, but our forecasters stress that a lot of uncertainty remains and milder weather could return.

Looking at our current forecast for the end of next week, our guidance states: “…a general continuation of the cold weather type seems most likely, but it is by no means certain. There is a risk of snow, ice and sharp frosts, with easternmost parts being most prone. However we certainly cannot discount the possibility that mild west/southwesterly winds will return instead, bringing rain at times.”

Looking further ahead, the forecast for mid-February onwards remains very uncertain too. Looking at our current guidance, it states: “…the most likely outcome is for much colder weather with winds mainly from an easterly quadrant to prevail, bringing widespread frosts, and snow to some areas. In this scenario it would be the east that would be most vulnerable to snowfall. There remains an alternative scenario, in which milder westerly winds prevail, the chances of this alternative scenario are currently rated as about one in three.”

Our forecasters will continue to closely monitor the situation, so for the latest information check our weather forecasts and warnings about what to expect.

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