14 Feb 2017

60cm of snow expected in one day?!

Here in the UK, our obsession with the weather is probably at its greatest when the prospect of snow is on the cards.

Even a light covering of snow sends everyone into frenzied excitement – and that’s before we start to think about the chaos on the roads that often ensues, along with trains failing to run due to the wrong type of snow.

Deep snow in Canada

Well, across the Atlantic Ocean in north east Canada, residents in the St. John’s area are bracing themselves for 40-60cm of snow in one day. Yes, you did read that right! More than half a metre of snow in just 24 hours.

Blizzard warnings issued

With such a huge amount of snow falling in such a short space of time, it is no surprise that Canada’s national weather service has issued a blizzard warning;

“Blizzard conditions with gusty winds and visibility frequently near zero in snow and blowing snow are expected or occurring.

Snowfall between 40 and 60 cm (1.3 to 2 feet) expected by Wednesday afternoon.

Fresh snow combined with strong northeasterly winds gusting up to 90 km/h (56mph) will cause blizzard conditions, with near zero visibility in blowing snow, today and tonight.”

What’s causing the snow storm?

Bitterly cold air from the Arctic is colliding with mild, moist air from the sub-tropics, driving a powerful jet stream, causing a deep area of low pressure to track along the east coast of Canada.

Canada weather chart
Jet stream (red arrows) over US and Canada: Environment Canada

The intensity of the low pressure will bring large amounts of snow in a short space of time, accompanied by strong winds that will cause snow drifts likely to reach over a metre high.

According to Environment Canada: “Travel is expected to be extremely hazardous due to reduced visibility.”

It adds: “Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. If you must travel, keep others informed of your schedule and destination and carry an emergency kit and mobile phone.”

Is the snow storm coming here?

It is often thought that weather affecting the US and Canada travels across the Atlantic Ocean and affects the UK a few days later.

However, this is a common misconception and is rarely the case – including on this occasion.

For the UK, milder weather is expected during the next week, with temperatures returning to double figures during the daytime, following the recent cold.

Don’t forget, you can get the latest five-day forecast on the Channel 4 Weather website. I’ll also be posting updates on Twitter – @liamdutton

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