22 Feb 2016

Why spring may be slow to arrive this year

As we enter the final week of February, meteorological winter is drawing to a close, with 1 March marking the start of spring in the weather calendar.

Even if you prefer to use the astronomical calendar to define when spring starts, there is no doubt that many of expect spring to spring in March.

However, this year, we may have to wait a little bit longer for spring to arrive, with signs that anything mild will evade us for the next few weeks.

Japan, Honshu, Saitama Prefecture, Kawaguchi, Snow on Daffodil flowers, close-up

This comes after a warm start to winter, with December 2015 being the warmest on record for the UK. January was also warmer than average, with February the most seasonably wintry month.

Staying cold well into March

The latest information from a variety of weather computer models points to a weather pattern that will bring below average temperatures well into March.

There are signs the wind will generally come from a northerly quarter, fluctuating from between north westerly and north easterly.

This will bring bursts of cold air from either Canada, the Arctic or Scandinavia, with just occasional interludes of something less cold from the Atlantic Ocean.

Jet stream heading south

The reason for this change to a colder weather pattern is the position of the jet stream – the fast-moving jetstream_south_WZ_wpribbon of air 30,000ft up in the atmosphere – which determines the weather that we experience at the surface.

During the next few weeks, it will spend much of the time to the south of the UK, generally steering areas of low pressure towards Spain and Portugal.

As a result, the UK will often be under the influence of an area of high pressure sitting in the mid-Atlantic, which will act as a block to any low pressure systems trying to push across us from the west.

What weather can we expect?

For the next two to three weeks, temperatures are generally expected to be below normal, with a cold feel for much of the time.

There’ll be quite a few days of sunshine and some wintry showers, with widespread frosts at night – potentially giving temperatures as low as -10C in rural areas of Scotland.

Great Britain, Scotland, Altnaharra, Loch, hoarfrost, snow and treeOccasionally, there’ll be areas of low pressure trying to move in. As these bump into the cold air, there could be some more widespread spells of rain, sleet and snow.

So, if you’re hoping for spring to spring anytime soon, you’re set to be disappointed. It may be some time before we can put winter behind us.

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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