Atmospheric phenomenon could bring snow to the region in January
- Credit: Tim Garrett-Moore
A rapid change in temperatures in the stratosphere could bring another Beast from the East to the region during January.
The UK is currently in the middle of a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW), which forecasters say brings an increased chance of severe weather. Similar conditions in the atmosphere brought the Beast from the East to British shores in February and March in 2018, but the SSW does not guarantee snow and ice.
A SSW refers to rapid warming – up to about 50C in just a couple of days – in the stratosphere between 10km and 50km up, and a cold snap often follows.
But the impact from the SSW takes around two weeks to be felt at ground level and forecasters have warned it is too early to say exactly how this event will affect the weather.
Dan Holley, forecaster at Norwich-based Weatherquest, said: “The long range forecasts are all linked to the SSW. The temperature in the stratosphere has jumped from around -80C to -30C.
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“It takes around two to three weeks to impact the weather here so nothing will happen in the short-term, but we could see some colder weather from January 15-20 onwards.
“It’s still very early to say and does not guarantee any snow, it’s just one of the things we are looking at.”
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Nicola Maxley, forecaster at the Met Office, said: “We can confirm a sudden stratospheric warming is under way high up in the atmosphere, however this does not mean we will end up with a ‘Beast from the East’ and heavy snowfall.
“It was a similar situation that resulted in the cold weather we experienced in February and March, however an SSW does not always result in heavy snowfall.
“It often leads to a blocking pattern which disrupts the westerly weather patterns that are predominate in the UK.
“This can result in an easterly airflow but the resulting weather conditions here in the UK depend on the position of the blocking pattern.”
Looking ahead to this week across Suffolk and north Essex, Mr Holley added: “It’s more of the same for the moment.
“We will be getting some colder weather towards the latter part of this week, of which we haven’t seen much of yet this winter.
“But we won’t be having any snow, just frost.”