7 Dec 2017

Where you can expect to see snow in the UK this weekend

After a brief return to milder weather in recent days, very cold Arctic air is set to make a comeback across the UK to finish off the week.

Storm Caroline has been passing to the north of the UK during Thursday, bringing a stormy day to northern Scotland.

But it’s behind the storm that the winds switch around to a north to north westerly direction, opening the door to much colder air spreading across the country.

Not only will it turn much colder, but there’ll also be some snow in the coming days – especially for northern and western parts of the UK.

Forecasting snow here is always difficult – for reasons which I covered in a recent blog. Nevertheless, I thought I’d take a look at the places most likely to see some snow in the coming days.

Friday into Saturday

During Friday into Saturday, northern and western parts of the UK are most likely to see some snow and ice, for which the Met Office has issued a yellow warning.

The areas highlighted in yellow could see 2-5cm at sea level, with as much as 10-20cm over the hills and mountains. Some snow showers are possible outside of this area, but are less likely.

As always in situations with snow showers, it’s worth pointing out that the snow will be hit and miss.

This means that amounts of snow will be very variable over relatively short distances. You might have a covering of snow where you are, but your friend 10 miles up the road may have nothing.

Add into the mix that there’ll be some melting between the snow showers during the daytime – especially in urban areas – settling snow will be temporary for some of us.

There’ll also be a brisk wind with the snow showers, with blizzards likely over the Scottish mountains and drifting of snow over the hills elsewhere.

Inevitably, places that see snow will be at risk of travel disruption, slippery surfaces and temporary loss of electricity supplies.

Sunday – the big snow headache!

At the moment, Sunday is turning out to be a real headache for weather forecasters, with the possibility of more widespread significant snow.

As a band of rain moves in from the west, it is likely to turn to heavy snow in places, where it meets the cold air.

However, at the moment, there is a huge amount of uncertainty about where, when and how much snow will fall.

Various weather computer models are coming up with slightly different outcomes for each run of information they produce. This means while there’s a consistent sign that there will be some snow, pinning down the detail is difficult.

At the moment, the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for snow on Sunday that covers the central portion of the UK. As much as 5-15cm could fall – even at sea level, but especially over the hills.

But it’s worth pointing out that the end result will likely be an area smaller than this that ends up seeing heavy snow.

At the moment, I think that the greatest risk for heavy snow will be for north Wales, the north Midlands and into northern England. The risk for other areas in the Met Office warning is somewhat lower, but can’t be ruled out completely.

Add in to the mix that in some places the snow will turn back to rain as slightly milder air creeps in, you get a sense of how complicated the picture is.

My feeling is that it will be a struggle to get the forecast right for Sunday’s snow even on the day before, which is why it’s worth keeping a very close eye on the forecast in the days to come.

Looking further ahead into December, it looks like the generally cold weather will persist across the UK. The cold will be notable for its persistence, rather than its intensity. Nevertheless, it means that the risk of further snow is going to stay with us in the run up to Christmas.

I’ll be posting regular updates on the wintry weather in the coming days on Twitter – @liamdutton

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