25 Mar 2013

And so winter continues

There’s no doubt at all that the severity of the wintry weather during the past five days has been remarkable – especially for the end of March.

Heavy snow has left a large swathe of the British landscape covered in a white, with the strong wind giving drifts well over a metre high in the worst affected areas.

If there’s one thing that this winter will be remembered for, it will be the persistence of the cold. After a relatively mild start to winter, with flooding rains in December, January saw the cold set in and it’s been with us ever since.

We’ve also had the most widespread snow since December 2010 and the Met Office issued their highest level red warning for snow for the first time in more than two years.

Last Friday on the programme, I explained that the cause of this wintry weather was the jet stream being unusually far south for this time of year.

As a result, the milder, changeable spring-like weather we would normally get is being steered across Iberia and northern Africa, leaving us in the freezer – along with the rest of north west Europe.

What does this week hold?

Thankfully, much of this week is going to be drier than the past five days. Any snow is likely to come in the form of mainly light showers.

Whilst there could still be another few centimetres in places, it isn’t going to be anywhere near as bad as what affected us through the weekend. In fact, many places will be dry for most of the time.

One thing that isn’t going to change for the first half of the week is the strong easterly wind. This means that lying snow, especially over hills and mountains, will continue to drift around. The picture below shows deep snow drifts in Northern Ireland.

Temperatures will remain well below average for this time of year, with daytime highs reaching 2-6C. Normally, they should be at 8-12C for the end of March.

With temperatures struggling, it means that the melting of snow will be slow – especially outside of urban areas where it tends to be somewhat colder.

Ice will be an additional problem as snow melts during the daytime then freezes again at night, with temperatures widely falling to around -5C.

Snow risk at the end of the week

At the end of the week, there are hints from the weather computer models that less cold air and weather fronts will try to move in from the south west, bumping into the colder air and giving more significant snow.

However, at this stage, there is a huge amount of uncertainty as to how far north the weather fronts will progress. Some suggest as far north as the Midlands, others keep them to the far south west of the UK.

So for now, it is more of a low risk, rather than a guarantee. Either way, it looks as though Easter weekend will remain cold for most of 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

Tweets by @liamdutton

One reader comment

  1. ashley haworth-roberts says:

    The cold and snowy UK/western Europe weather this Spring (March colder than Feb which was colder than Jan) is unusual but it is definitely not unprecedented – I well remember 1979 for instance (I don’t remember 1947).
    Whereas 100 F in Kent on 10 August 2003 was unprecedented.
    Very interesting coverage on ITV News at 6.30 pm this evening (also an ITN Production).
    I tend to assume that man-caused climate change is disrupting the jet stream, rather than that this weather (after the UK ‘weather chaos’ on 2012) is merely ‘natural variation’.
    But I agree that prolonged cold caused by pumping out more Greenhouse gases does sound a little strange. Clearly what counts more is WORLD temperatures.

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