Overnight minimum temperatures

11 12 2013

As forecast, last night Scotland saw warmer temperatures than any other part of the country, with overnight maximum temperatures of 16.2 °C recorded in Ross and Cromarty. In fact, many parts of Scotland saw warmer temperatures overnight than they did during the daytime.

Maximum overnight temperatures Tuesday 11 December 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Achnagart Ross & Cromarty 16.2
Kinlochewe        Ross & Cromarty 15.2
Altnaharra No 2   Sutherland 14.6
Kinloss  Moray 14.3
Lossiemouth Moray 14.2
Cluanie Inn No 3  Ross & Cromarty 14.2
Drumnadrochit Inverness-shire 14.1
Aultbea No 2      Ross & Cromarty 14
Resallach    Sutherland 13.8
Skye, Lusa Western Isles 13.7

Not everywhere was so warm with some areas in the southern part of the UK recording several degrees below freezing.

Lowest minimum temperatures Tuesday 11 December 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Pershore Hereford & Worcester -3.1
Shoreham Airport West Sussex -3.1
Goudhurst Kent -3.0
Wiggonholt West Sussex  -2.9
Frittenden Kent  -2.6
Hurn Dorset -2.2
Kew Gardens Greater London  -2.0
Northolt Greater London -2.0
Charlwood Surrey -1.9
Odiham Hampshire -1.9

More mild temperatures are forecast in Scotland over the next few nights, before it becomes slightly more unsettled, particularly in the North of the UK. See your local forecast and temperature range on our website.





Cold snap expected

3 12 2013

The UK is going to see a very short, sharp, cold snap.  From Wednesday night (4th Dec) into Thursday morning (5th Dec) Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland will see some strong winds, while Scotland will see some wintry showers and snow.  However temperatures will return to normal as we head through the weekend, and be more in line with what should be expected for December.

A rapidly deepening Atlantic depression is expected to move in an easterly direction to the north of Scotland bringing westerly gales, with gusts of 60 to 70 mph extending southwards across northern and some central parts of the UK on Wednesday night and Thursday.  Northern Scotland could see gusts of 80mph, and potentially 90mph for a time.

Because of this the Met Office has issued a Yellow Severe Weather Warning for strong winds. The public should be aware of possible disruption to travel, especially across Scotland, parts of Northern Ireland and Northern England.

The winds are expected to veer northerly and bring the colder arctic air southwards across northern areas before easing into Friday. The winds could exacerbate high tides and may increase the risk of coastal flooding in the Northern and Western Isles and along the East Coast of England.

A Yellow warning for snow is also in place. It runs from 6am Thursday to 12 noon on Friday, covering the northern half of Scotland, snow showers are expected to be most frequent across the Northern Isles, the North Highlands and northern Aberdeenshire.  Low laying areas could see 2 – 5cms of snow and higher altitudes 10 – 20cms. In addition the strong winds could lead to some drifting of snow and possibly blizzard conditions on higher ground.  Icy conditions may also develop on some roads across Scotland on Thursday night and Friday morning.

This winter storm is not expected to be as powerful as those in January 2012 and December 2011

This is expected to be a short-lived cold snap, with temperatures quickly recovering to near normal over the weekend.

Our video explains what to do during a Yellow warning for wind. You can also download a weather warnings widget for your website.





The Met Office’s outlook for UK winter

29 11 2013

There are some headlines in the media today which suggest the Met Office is warning of exceptionally cold weather for three months.

However, the Met Office hasn’t issued a warning along these lines and we have not highlighted months of ‘exceptionally cold’ weather ahead. If there is any sign of significantly cold weather or disruptive snow in the forecast, we will keep the country up to date through our forecasts and warnings.

The news stories are based on information taken from our three month outlook for contingency planners, so let’s take a closer look at that.

What does our three month outlook say?

This outlook is not like our other forecasts because, as we have discussed previously, it’s not currently scientifically possible to provide a detailed forecast over these long timescales.

Instead, the outlook assesses the level of risk connected to five different scenarios for both temperature and rain/snowfall. It’s a bit like the science-equivalent of factoring the odds on a horse race.

The current outlook for December-January-February says the chance of the coldest scenario happening is between 20 and 25% and the chances that the period will fall into the warmest scenario is between 10 and 15%.

So while uncertainty is quite large, below average temperatures are more likely than above average (for note, average maximum temperatures for the UK in winter are about 6.6C and average minimum temps are about 0.9C).

However, as with any horse race, it’s always possible that the favourite won’t win – so these probability scenarios have to be used in the right context. This is why they’re useful for contingency planners who plan ahead based on risk, but not that useful for the general public.

So what will winter be like?

Obviously there’s always a lot of interest to know what winter will be like – how cold will it be, how much snow will we get and where and when will it fall?

The Met Office is working with research partners around the world to improve longer range forecasting, but it’s not currently possible to forecast snow or exact temperatures three months ahead.

However, our 30-day outlook (under the text forecast tab) provides a look ahead to the general type of weather we’re likely to see in the UK.

Currently it says that after today, we’ll see settled weather and fairly normal temperatures into the first week of December before the chance of some colder, more changeable weather towards the end of next week. This may last a few days before giving way to milder and unsettled weather.

For the mid to latter part of December, there are indications that temperatures are likely to remain near or slightly below average for the time of year, but otherwise fairly normal conditions for early winter are most likely.

With regards to forecasting snow, because there are so many factors involved, generally that can only be discussed in any detail in our five day forecasts.

If there is any sign of significantly cold weather or disruptive snow in the forecast, we will keep the country up to date through our forecasts and warnings.





Lowest temperatures 10 October

10 10 2013

Last night saw the first widespread cold night of the season. Here are the lowest temperatures from around the UK:

ENGLAND
SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE  (°C)   
Bridgefoot        CUMBRIA       1.5
Leek, Thorncliffe STAFFORDSHIRE 2.2
Spadeadam CUMBRIA       2.2
Warcop Range      CUMBRIA       2.5
Keswick           CUMBRIA       3.0
SCOTLAND               
SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE  (°C)  
Saughall    AYRSHIRE      -0.7
Drumalbin   LANARKSHIRE   1.4
Salsburgh   LANARKSHIRE   2.4
Balmoral    ABERDEENSHIRE 3.1
Carterhouse ROXBURGHSHIRE 3.1
WALES      
SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE  (°C)    
Libanus                      POWYS 1.6
Sennybridge       POWYS 1.6
Tredegar Bryn Bach Park GWENT 3.9
Llysdinam                    POWYS 4.1
Trawsgoed                    DYFED 4.2
NORTHERN IRELAND
SITE NAME AREA MIN TEMPERATURE  (°C)
Killylane ANTRIM 4.0
Thomastown FERMANAGH 4.2
Derrylin Cornahoule FERMANAGH 4.3
Castlederg TYRONE 4.6
Aldergrove ANTRIM 4.9




Spring on track to be coldest for 30 years

22 05 2013

Early figures from the Met Office show spring (March, April and May) 2013 is on course to be the coldest in the UK since 1979.

Estimates of the mean temperature for the whole season have been made based on data from 1 March up to 15 May as well as an assumption of average conditions through to the end of this month. The final figures could therefore be different, depending on the temperatures we actually see up to the end of May.

The estimates suggest the mean UK temperature for spring will be around 6.1 °C, which would make it the 6th coldest spring in national records dating back to 1910 and the coldest since 1979 when the mean temperature was 6.0 °C.

The estimated figure this year goes against recent form for spring, with eight of the past ten years being above the long-term (1981-2010) average for the season of 7.7 °C.

However, looking further back, the most recent colder spring of 1979 came in the middle of a long run, lasting from 1962 to 1989, of springs which were almost all colder than the current average*.

This year’s particularly cold spring was heavily influenced by an exceptionally cold March which had a mean temperature 3.3 °C below the long-term average. April and May (so far) have been less cold, but have also registered slightly below average mean temperatures.

The colder than average conditions have been caused by frequent east and northerly winds which have brought cold air to the UK from polar and northern European regions.

This spring also looks to be slightly drier than average, with an estimate of about 214 mm of rain which would be roughly 90% of the average amount we would expect through the season. This isn’t that notable when compared with the the springs of 2010 and 2011, which were much drier – notching up 79% and 70% of the average respectively.

Estimated provisional statistics for spring 2013

UK England Wales Scotland NI
Mean temp (° C) 6.1 6.8 6.2 4.7 6.3
Diff from avg (° C) -1.7 -1.7 -1.8 -1.6 -1.5
Coldest since: 1979 1962 1979 1979 1986
Rainfall (mm) 214 158 246 292 240
% of avg 89.8 87.3 84.3 92.3 99

*The Met Office operates 30-year climate averages which are updated every decade. Looking at the 30-year averages of 1961-90, 1971-2000 and the current climate averages of 1981-2010, you can see the average mean temperatures for spring have increased over that period. This means defining what is ‘below-average’ depends on which 30-year period is used. All references in this article use the current 1981-2010 climate averages.

30-year period                 Average spring UK mean temperature

1961-1990                                            7.1 °C

1971-2000                                            7.4 °C

1981-2010                                            7.7 °C





April drier and colder than average

2 05 2013

After the wettest April on record in 2012, provisional full-month Met Office figures show this April has been slightly drier than average in the UK.

Rainfall throughout the UK was 64 mm this year, compared to the 1981-2010 average of 72.7 mm. That’s considerably less than the 128 mm we saw last year.

There were big regional differences in April rainfall this year. Scotland saw 121.2 mm of rain which is above the 91.1 mm average and Northern Ireland saw 75.2mm, almost spot on the 75.0 mm average.

However, both England and Wales saw well below average rainfall. Wales had 50.3mm, compared to an average of 89.3mm, and England saw 30.4mm, compared to an average of 58.7 mm.

The month was characterised by generally cold and dry weather, following on from the theme set in March. Despite this, April registered as only slightly colder than average with a mean UK temperature of 6.3 °C, which is 1.1 °C below the 7.4 °C long-term average.

This is the same mean temperature as recorded in April 2012. To find a colder April than the last two years, you have to go back to 1989 – which saw a mean temperature of 5.5 °C.

Scotland saw the coldest temperatures compared to country specific averages, with a mean temperature of 4.8 °C, which is 1.3 °C below average – and is the same temperature as recorded in 1998.

The warmest day of the month was 25 April at Faversham in Kent when the temperature recorded was 23.1°C.

In terms of sunshine, Scotland was sunnier than the rest of the UK with hours of sunshine totalling 170.9, followed by Northern Ireland with 168.0, England at 167.7 and Wales at 162.7 hours.

This compares with only 127.9 hours of sunshine in April last year throughout the UK. The sunniest April in the last 10 years was 2007 with 203.5 hours.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
Apr-13 Actual Diff to Avg Actual Diff to Avg Actual Diff to Avg
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 6.3 -1.1 168.4 114 64 88
England 7.2 -0.9 167.7 108 30.4 52
Wales 6.4 -1.2 162.7 105 50.3 56
Scotland 4.8 -1.3 170.9 127 121.2 133
N Ireland 6.5 -1.1 168 115 75.2 100




Warm but unsettled weekend ahead as cold eases grip on UK

10 04 2013

The UK is set to see some warmer temperatures this weekend as the colder than average weather seen so far this April eases its grip.

Temperatures have been steadily climbing since the exceptionally cold weather towards the start of the month, with today through to Friday set to see double-digit figures for many places.

On Saturday temperatures will be generally between 11 and 13 °C, feeling much milder than recent days. However, the weather will be wet, fairly windy and unsettled for many parts – with the best of any drier and brighter weather in the south and east.

Forecast chart for midday Saturday shows low pressure moving in from the Atlantic to bring mild but wet and windy weather for most of the country. High pressure still dominates in the south and east, bringing the best of any drier and brighter weather.

Forecast chart for midday Saturday shows low pressure moving in from the Atlantic to bring mild but wet and windy weather for most of the country. High pressure still dominates in the south and east, bringing the best of any drier and brighter weather.

Warmest day of the year so far

Sunday looks set to be the warmest day of 2013 so far, with temperatures expected to be widely in the mid-teens Celsius. While the weather will be slightly more settled than Saturday, many places will see cloudy and breezy conditions with a risk of some light showers.

Once again the south and east will see the best of the weather, with drier and brighter conditions and temperatures of 15-18 °C – with a possibility that some isolated spots could reach around 20 °C.

Leading in to next week temperatures look set to cool slightly, but remain around average for the time of year.

Jet stream shift brings milder weather

The reason for the shift away from the colder weather is the re-alignment of the jet stream, a band of fast moving westerly winds high up in the atmosphere which tends to guide Atlantic weather systems. It’s these weather systems that bring us the mild and unsettled weather we normally expect at this time of year.

During the prolonged cold conditions the jet stream tracked far to the south of the UK, guiding those mild weather systems towards the Mediterranean. The UK, meanwhile, saw an easterly flow – bringing in cold conditions from the cold winter climes of north-east Europe.

Now the jet stream has started to shift its track, moving north to a position more in line with what we’d expect at this time of year. This means we expect to see milder, but also more unsettled weather coming in from the Atlantic over the coming week or so.





Met Office figures show we are on course for coldest March in over 50 years

28 03 2013

This March is set to be the coldest since 1962 in the UK in the national record dating back to 1910, according to provisional Met Office statistics.

From 1 to 26 March the UK mean temperature was 2.5 °C, which is three degrees below the long term average. This also makes it joint 4th coldest on record in the UK.

The table below gives details of statistics up to the 26 March for broken down by the counties used to compile climate statistics.

  mean temperature precipitation
  Actual  (deg C) Difference from 1981-2010 average (deg C) Actual (mm) Percentage of 1981-2010 average (%)
Regions        
UK 2.5 -3.0 62.2 65
England 2.9 -3.3 63.4 99
Wales 2.8 -3.0 86.2 74
Scotland 1.6 -2.5 50.3 36
N Ireland 3.0 -2.9 78.9 83
England & Wales 2.9 -3.3 66.6 94
England N 2.0 -3.5 54.0 72
England S 3.4 -3.2 68.4 118
Historic Counties        
Aberdeenshire 0.6 -3.1 67.9 86
Anglesey 3.9 -2.9 79.8 100
Antrim 2.9 -2.8 68.9 75
Argyllshire 2.5 -2.1 47.2 22
Armagh 3.1 -3.1 96.8 125
Ayrshire 2.0 -2.9 53.8 41
Banffshire 0.8 -3.1 56.4 76
Bedfordshire 3.0 -3.5 50.1 119
Berkshire 3.4 -3.2 78.5 157
Berwickshire 1.6 -3.2 65.0 108
Brecknockshire 1.9 -3.1 100.5 74
Buckinghamshire 3.1 -3.4 66.6 137
Buteshire 2.7 -2.3 58.0 36
Caithness 2.3 -1.9 45.5 52
Cambridgeshire 3.2 -3.5 40.0 102
Cardiganshire 2.8 -2.8 62.5 54
Carmarthenshire 3.4 -2.7 87.0 69
Carnarvonshire 2.8 -3.0 96.1 64
Cheshire 2.9 -3.5 42.1 72
Clackmannanshire 1.7 -2.7 65.3 57
Cornwall 5.1 -2.3 102.0 109
Cumberland 1.6 -3.3 42.1 37
Denbighshire 2.1 -3.4 66.2 75
Derbyshire 1.9 -3.7 58.8 81
Devon 4.0 -2.7 112.9 118
Dorset 4.0 -2.7 96.8 132
Down 3.2 -3.0 158.4 193
Dumfriesshire 1.3 -3.1 65.6 53
Dunbartonshire 2.1 -2.7 49.4 25
Durham 1.6 -3.4 61.9 99
East Lothianshire 1.9 -3.2 55.4 100
Essex 3.5 -3.3 44.2 110
Fermanagh 3.0 -3.0 45.6 42
Fifeshire 2.3 -3.0 58.8 89
Flintshire 2.9 -3.5 60.9 105
Forfarshire 0.9 -3.0 73.1 89
Glamorganshire 3.6 -2.8 123.1 98
Gloucestershire 3.2 -3.3 77.1 129
Hampshire 3.9 -2.9 85.4 133
Herefordshire 2.9 -3.5 80.3 134
Hertfordshire 3.2 -3.4 50.3 109
Huntingdonshire 3.1 -3.6 56.4 143
Inverness 1.3 -2.1 36.9 19
Kent 3.8 -3.1 58.2 121
Kincardineshire 1.5 -3.1 56.5 82
Kinross 1.5 -3.0 65.6 65
Kirkcudbrightshire 1.7 -3.0 79.2 54
Lanarkshire 1.2 -3.0 51.8 47
Lancashire 2.6 -3.3 41.1 45
Leicestershire 2.4 -3.8 52.4 114
Lincolnshire 2.7 -3.6 49.0 113
Londonderry 3.0 -2.8 59.3 60
Merionethshire 1.8 -3.1 98.6 62
Mid Lothianshire 1.7 -3.1 59.4 83
Middlesex 4.2 -3.3 57.7 128
Monmouthshire 3.1 -3.2 94.8 100
Montgomeryshire 2.0 -3.4 64.5 56
Moray 1.7 -2.8 39.5 60
Nairnshire 1.5 -2.9 32.0 47
Norfolk 3.0 -3.4 60.5 128
Northamptonshire 2.6 -3.6 61.0 133
Northumberland 1.5 -3.3 63.0 92
Nottinghamshire 2.6 -3.8 49.0 113
Oxfordshire 3.0 -3.3 74.3 149
Peeblesshire 0.4 -3.4 69.6 68
Pembrokeshire 4.0 -2.6 76.9 77
Perthshire 0.6 -2.6 58.8 39
Radnorshire 1.7 -3.2 87.8 91
Renfrewshire 2.5 -2.8 42.8 29
Ross and Cromarty 2.1 -2.0 35.1 20
Roxburghshire 1.0 -3.4 62.8 73
Rutland 2.4 -3.7 58.0 123
Selkirkshire 0.5 -3.1 76.5 68
Shropshire 2.6 -3.5 61.6 108
Somerset 3.8 -3.0 65.3 91
Staffordshire 2.3 -3.7 51.0 87
Stirlingshire 1.9 -2.9 53.2 36
Suffolk 3.2 -3.3 46.4 104
Surrey 3.7 -3.1 72.1 135
Sussex 4.0 -2.8 64.6 103
Sutherland 1.5 -2.4 38.8 27
Tyrone 2.8 -2.8 60.1 57
Warwickshire 2.8 -3.6 52.2 110
West Lothianshire 1.9 -3.1 49.3 62
West Suffolk 3.3 -3.5 31.8 80
Westmorland 1.2 -3.1 56.1 40
Wigtownshire 2.7 -2.8 55.5 51
Wiltshire 3.3 -3.0 76.1 118
Worcestershire 3.1 -3.5 63.9 133
Yorkshire 1.9 -3.6 59.0 84

Clearly March has been extremely cold and snowy and joins 2006, 2001, 1995, 1987, 1979, 1970 and 1962 as years when March saw some significant snowfall.

The cold weather is expected to continue through the Easter weekend and into April. You can stay up-to-date with forecasts and warnings online, through our mobile apps, facebook and twitter, and through TV and radio broadcasts.

The table below lists the coldest March average temperatures on record and details where March 2013 ranks in terms of cold months of March.

Area Coldest March

on Record

(deg C and year)

Rank of March 2013
Aberdeenshire -1.4 1947 5
Anglesey 3.6 1962 2
Antrim 2.2 1947 5
Argyllshire 1.5 1947 5
Armagh 2.9 1919/1947 4
Ayrshire 1.0 1947 5
Banffshire -1.0 1947 5
Bedfordshire 2.3 1962 2
Berkshire 2.6 1962 2
Berwickshire 0.3 1947 5
Brecknockshire 1.1 1962 2
Buckinghamshire 2.3 1962 2
Buteshire 1.5 1947 5
Caithness 0.0 1947 5
Cambridgeshire 2.6 1962 2
Cardiganshire 2.0 1962 3
Carmarthenshire 2.5 1962 3
Carnarvonshire 2.3 1962 3
Cheshire 2.6 1962 2
Clackmannanshire 0.1 1947 4
Cornwall 3.9 1962 2
Cumberland 1.0 1947 4
Denbighshire 1.4 1962 2
Derbyshire 1.5 1962 2
Devon 3.1 1962 2
Dorset 3.1 1962 2
Down 3.0 1937/1947 4
Dumfriesshire 0.5 1947 5
Dunbartonshire 0.3 1947 5
Durham 0.9 1947 4
East Lothianshire 0.2 1947 5
Essex 2.8 1962 2
Fermanagh 2.8 1947 3
Fifeshire 0.7 1947 5
Flintshire 2.4 1962 2
Forfarshire -0.6 1947 4
Glamorganshire 2.9 1962 3
Gloucestershire 2.6 1962 2
Hampshire 3.0 1962 2
Herefordshire 2.4 1962 2
Hertfordshire 2.4 1962 2
Huntingdonshire 2.6 1962 2
Inverness 0.0 1947 5
Kent 2.9 1962 2
Kincardineshire 0.3 1947 2
Kinross -0.1 1947 5
Kirkcudbrightshire 0.9 1947 3
Lanarkshire 0.0 1947 5
Lancashire 2.3 1962 2
Leicestershire 2.0 1962 2
Lincolnshire 2.4 1962 2
Londonderry 2.2 1947 5
Merionethshire 1.2 1962 3
Mid Lothianshire 0.1 1947 5
Middlesex 3.4 1962 2
Monmouthshire 2.5 1962 2
Montgomeryshire 1.3 1962 3
Moray -0.2 1947 5
Nairnshire 0.0 1947 5
Norfolk 2.5 1962 2
Northamptonshire 2.1 1962 2
Northumberland 0.4 1947 4
Nottinghamshire 2.4 1962 2
Oxfordshire 2.4 1962 2
Peeblesshire -1.2 1947 5
Pembrokeshire 3.2 1962 3
Perthshire -1.2 1947 5
Radnorshire 1.1 1962 2
Renfrewshire 0.8 1947 5
Ross and Cromarty 0.8 1947 5
Roxburghshire -0.4 1947 5
Rutland 1.9 1962 2
Selkirkshire -0.8 1947 5
Shropshire 2.1 1962 2
Somerset 3.0 1962 2
Staffordshire 1.9 1962 2
Stirlingshire 0.1 1947 5
Suffolk 2.5 1962 2
Surrey 2.8 1962 2
Sussex 2.9 1962 2
Sutherland 0.1 1947 5
Tyrone 2.3 1947 5
Warwickshire 2.3 1962 2
West Lothianshire 0.3 1947 5
West Suffolk 2.5 1962 2
Westmorland 0.4 1947 3
Wigtownshire 1.7 1947 3
Wiltshire 2.5 1962 2
Worcestershire 2.7 1962 2
Yorkshire 1.4 1947 3

The full month figures for March 2013 will be available later next week and a summary of the month will be issued soon after.





Cold Weather Alert Service extended to help support

27 03 2013

With cold weather forecast across the UK as we head through the Easter weekend and into the start of April, the Cold Weather Alert Service, which usually finishes at the end of March, has been extended for an additional two weeks.

winter-fogThe Cold Weather Plan, which has run successfully since 2011, has been developed by the Department of Health, Met Office and Health Protection Agency, and supported by AgeUK.

The purpose of the Cold Weather Plan is to help raise awareness of the dangers of cold weather on health with both the general public and professionals alike. It spells out what preparations both individuals and organisations could make to reduce health risks and includes specific measures to protect at-risk groups.

The Cold Weather Plan has been supported again this winter by the Met Office Cold Weather Alert Service, which notifies frontline staff across the health, social care, community and voluntary sectors, and AgeUK, as well as the general public across England, when cold weather could impact on our health.

The continued period of cold weather has brought substantial media focus. By extending the service we are ensuring that accurate and reliable forecasts and alerts are sent to frontline staff and carers in our health services. This will help them to look after those who are more vulnerable and ensure that they stay well and healthy during this prolonged spell of cold weather.

You can keep up to date with the latest forecasts from the Met Office on our website.





March – a month of weather contrasts

18 03 2013

Winter seems to have hung on for quite some time this year with low temperatures, frost, ice and snow affecting many areas into late March. This isn’t altogether unusual as we are more likely to see snow at Easter than at Christmas. However, March 2012 was very different with plenty of sunshine and temperatures into the low 20s Celsius. How come?

Well, this time last year the UK was under the influence of high pressure. This gave us clear skies, plenty of sunshine and with a light southerly breeze, temperatures that were well above average. In fact, Scotland set an all time record maximum temperature with 22.8 °C at Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire.

Visible satellite image from March 2012

Visible satellite image from March 2012

This year, with a strong easterly wind bringing cold air from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, we have quite the opposite with eastern parts of the UK in particular seeing snow, ice and temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius lower.

Visibile satellite image from March 2013

Visibile satellite image from March 2013

The direction of the wind therefore plays a major part in what type of weather you and I will see, especially as we have the Atlantic Ocean to our west and continental Europe to our south and east. Different wind directions bring air with different temperature and moisture contents. Meteorologically, they are termed air masses and in March 2012 we saw a Tropical Continental air mass bringing dry and warm air from the Mediterranean. This year we have been affected by a Polar Continental air mass, bringing cold air from the east. The following video explains exactly what we mean by air masses.

With different air masses constantly affecting the UK, the weather is a particularly challenging thing to forecast, especially so in March. This is because in early spring the sun is starting to rise higher in the sky and the amount of daylight hours start to increase. This means we get more heat building up in the lower part of our atmosphere. The result is slightly more energy, which in turn can lead to heavier showers. We can also see more unstable air and more active fronts as a result of greater heating. With more moisture available in the atmosphere, we also tend to see heavier or more prolonged rainfall and if this mixes with cold air, more snowfall. It makes forecasting more complicated because the extra heat and moisture adds another aspect to the weather, which tends amplify the effects of different air masses.

You can find out more about forecasting snow on our website or on the following video:








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