A sudden stratospheric warming high in the atmosphere early in January has led to reports a so called ‘Beast from the East’ is heading our way and speculation of extreme cold weather to come.
A sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) sees a rise in temperature and change in wind direction in the atmosphere high above the Arctic. This happens at an altitude of about 30 km so has a delayed influence on weather at the earth’s surface. We usually start to see knock-on effects on the jet stream a couple of weeks later, which can in turn affect the day to day weather across Europe and the UK.
Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Paul Davies, said; “The unsettled, wintry weather forecast for next week is consistent with the expected effects of an SSW and there is a chance there could be more snow in parts of the UK and Europe.
“However, the winds will be generally from a northerly direction not from the east, as cold air from Scandinavia is drawn across the UK. So perhaps not a Beast from the East but normal wintry weather from the north.”
The cold northerly air is likely to be once again held to the east side of the UK as milder air pushes in from the west. Where these two air masses meet weather fronts will bring rain, which could be heavy at times and turn to snow, especially over higher ground. This suggests the potential for big differences in the weather across the UK next week, with temperatures most likely to be rather cold for the north and near-or slightly above-average across the south. There is always uncertainty when conflicting air masses meet, however, so some cold spells can’t be ruled out here also.
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