8 Feb 2017

8 facts about this week’s cold weather

Lo and behold, here we are in the second week of February and the weather is going to get cold with snow for some of us.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, despite what some hyperbolic newspaper headlines might have you believe.

After all, it is winter, and us weather folk have been hinting at the change for at least a week now.

So, to help you through the raft of hyperbole and exaggeration that you may have read elsewhere, I thought I’d offer some clear, concise, no-nonsense facts about what the coming days will bring.

When is it going to get colder?

The cold air has already start to arrive across eastern parts of the UK today, with temperatures expected to be no higher than 3-6C. Further westwards, the cold air will arrive during tonight and into tomorrow.

Cold air (dark blue) arriving from east: Tropical Tidbits

How cold will it get?

By Thursday and Friday, temperatures will reach just 2-5C for most places during the daytime, with the hills and mountains staying at freezing or below all day. The cold will be accentuated by a bitter east to north easterly breeze. At night, towns and cities will fall to around -2C, with rural areas as low as -10C.

What’s causing the cold weather?

There’s a huge area of high pressure at the moment over Scandinavia, which is acting as a block and stopping mild, wet and windy weather moving off the Atlantic. Winds around this area of high pressure are bringing air from Siberia, which is very cold at this time of year.

High pressure over Scandinavia: Met Office

Is it going to be record breaking cold?

No, it is not going to be record breaking cold. The lowest temperature on record for the UK in February is -27.2C, recorded at Braemar, Aberdeenshire on 11 February 1895. In the coming few nights, temperatures aren’t expected to fall lower than around -10C in rural parts of inland Scotland.

Will there be snow?

Yes, there will be some snow, but it will generally fall in the form of showers, rather than a big band of widespread snow.

Where is most likely to see snow?

The eastern half of the UK is most likely to see some snow in the coming days, although the risk extends to anywhere into Saturday. However, it’s merely a risk and not a guarantee.

How much snow will there be?

Snow at sea level is unlikely to amount to more than a few centimetres at most. And even then, it will be hit and miss from place to place, with many seeing nothing at all. Hills and mountains could see as much as 5-10cm – mainly across northern England and Scotland.

Wharfedale, and Simon's Seat looks down on the hamlet of Appletreewick.

How long will the cold weather last?

At the moment, it looks like the cold weather will last until the end of the weekend, with milder air pushing up from the south on Monday. Many parts of the UK will be back up to double-figure temperatures of 10-12C on Tuesday.

So, there you have it. Whilst it will turn noticeably colder in the coming days, with snow in places, it’s hardly worthy of the title ‘big freeze.’

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

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