Milder this weekend

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  • Milder this weekend
    08.12.2010 15:49

    Among many bone-chillingly low temperatures recorded across the UK this morning, Wednesday 8th December, Tyndrum, Stirlingshire, recorded a minimum of -18.3 degrees Celsius.

    This is a new country-wide record for the date, beating the previous low of -17.8 recorded at Cambridge Observatory on December 8th 1879.

    There will be a temporary respite from the cold and snow this weekend. By Friday, in fact, temperatures will start to rise and it will feel noticeably milder, so there will be at least a partial thaw of lying snow and ice.

    The temperature on Friday will rise to between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius across most of the country, and even into double figures in parts of north and west Scotland and in the far southwest of England. Overnight it will stay above freezing almost everywhere.

    We have a warm front arriving from the Atlantic to thank for the change, with the wind backing west-northwesterly and pushing cloud across the country with some drizzle or light rain here and there, mainly in the north and west.

    Saturday night and Sunday night will be a bit colder, with temperatures close to or just below freezing due to the cloud clearing away and winds easing. That’s nowhere near as cold as recently, although temperatures in and around the lingering snow fields will be lower.

    It’s all too brief a respite, however, and next week we can expect temperatures to fall steadily again to frigid levels with an increasing risk of snow as a mixture of northerly and easterly winds returns.

    Warm air thrusting northwards towards Greenland is to blame. The atmosphere will balance by plunging cold air southwards around our longitude, with high pressure building strongly over Greenland and into the mid-Atlantic to set up a northerly flow into Europe.

    This balancing act means that all around the northern hemisphere there are areas of unusual cold next to regions of abnormal warmth. The Near East is a case in point. While much of Europe shivers, Israel has suffered raging wildfires sparked by unusual early-winter dryness and heat. On Thursday last week the temperature soared to an extraordinary 31 degrees Celsius, while neighbouring Lebanon reached 28 degrees.                                                                                

    And Greenland itself seems to have exported its cold and imported some warmth. Since the last week of November its capital city, Nuuk, has barely seen its temperature drop to freezing, while on one occasion rising as high as 15.7 degrees C.

    It is odd to think that to find some relative winter warmth one might fly north.

    By: Stephen Davenport