7 Mar 2013

Snow, frost and ice next week as winter returns

Just as most of us have welcomed some spring-like warmth with wide open arms, it’s about to be snatched away from us. Next week will see winter return with a real sting in its tail, providing a wintry combination of snow, frost and ice.

On Tuesday, we had our warmest day of the year so far, with Trawsgoed, Ceredigion reaching 17.5C in the sunshine. Much of England and Wales enjoyed blue skies and spring-like warmth, with temperatures generally in the range of 11-15C.

The cause of rising temperatures this week has been a plume of warm air being scooped up from Iberia. However despite bringing warmth, progressively, it’s also moistened up the atmosphere, introducing cloud and outbreaks of rain.

I mentioned in my blog earlier this week that the jet stream is much further south than usual at the moment, which means that low pressure systems that would normally give us rain and milder air are instead moving over Spain and Portugal.

As a result of this, we are more susceptible to the influence of high pressure to the north of the UK and thus blasts of cold Arctic air flooding over us – exactly what is going to happen through this weekend and into next week.

How cold will it get?

Scotland will first feel the presence of the colder air, with daytime temperatures from Friday onwards around 1-6C, with the cold feel accentuated by a brisk wind.

Following highs of 9-13C on Friday, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will see the colder air arrive at the weekend. From Sunday onwards, daytime temperatures will be around 1-5C, with a brisk east to north easterly winds making it feel even colder.

A universal feature for all parts of the UK into next week will be sharp frosts. Temperatures at night will fall to around -3C in towns and cities with rural spots as low as -8C.

The cold weather will persist for much of next week, if not a bit longer. However, peak intensity of the cold looks to be during the first part of the week, with it becoming a little less cold from midweek onwards.

Will there be any snow?

Forecasting snow in March is difficult because the sun has greater strength and, to an extent, can moderate the cold during the daytime. As a result, snow that falls in March can find it hard to stay on the ground if the sun is out for any length of time – especially at low levels.

Whilst detail is subject to change, at the moment, it looks like a band of rain will increasingly turn to sleet and snow as it slides southwards this weekend. Accumulating snow is most likely over the hills and mountains, but it is possible at low levels – especially if it falls overnight.

Early next week, any snow is likely to come in the form of heavy showers, with Scotland and eastern parts of England most prone. Although this could change as the forecast becomes clearer in the coming days.

How unusual is wintry weather in March?

With spring being a season notorious for warm and cold air battling it out for supremacy, it is actually quite common for wintry weather to affect us in March and even April.

What’s even more interesting is that statistically, here in the UK, snow is more likely to fall at Easter than at Christmas.

Whilst this year March will take us back into the freezer, last year it gave us summer-like warmth. Aboyne in Aberdeenshire reached 23.6C on 27 March 2012, setting a new Scottish record for March warmth.

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

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