Winter isn't quite over yet

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  • Figure 1: A MODIS satellite image of the UK on 26 January 2013, showing much of the country blanketed in snow. Source: NASA.

    Figure 2: Forecast minimum temperatures for Sunday night, showing a widespread frost across the country. Temperatures will struggle to rise above freezing in some central and eastern areas on Monday.

    Figure 3: Some areas of eastern England may see similar scenes during the start of next week. Source: PA.

  • Winter isn't quite over yet
    07.03.2013 16:12

     

    After an early taste of spring at the start of this week, you may be forgiven for thinking we have seen the last of the winter weather. However, another cold spell is expected to spread in from the north and east this weekend and will continue for a time next week.

    In the meteorological world, winter officially starts on 1 December and ends on the last day of February. Temperatures then usually pick up through March and April as days get steadily longer and the strength of the sun increases. However, spells of cold, frosty and even snowy weather are not uncommon during the first half of Spring. In fact, it is statistically more likely to have snow falling at Easter than it is to have a white Christmas. This is because of an increased frequency of northerly and easterly winds compared to winter, a symptom of atmospheric blocking.

    This winter has seen a fair amount of snow across much of the country, particularly during the months of January and February. Temperatures across the three month period were slightly colder than average with a Central England Temperature (CET) of around 3.8ºC, 0.8ºC below the 1981-2010 long term average. The lowest temperature recorded was -13.6ºC at Buntingford, Hertfordshire on the morning of 22 January, under clear skies and a deep snow cover. Although it has been a rather chilly winter, it has been milder than the winters of 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 which all saw prolonged cold and snowy spells.

    Temperatures picked up rather quickly through the first week of March with many parts of southern and central England and Wales enjoying a sunny and very mild day on Tuesday. Many southern areas of the country saw temperatures in the mid teens with a maximum temperature of 17.5ºC observed at Trawscoed in west Wales. It is going to stay fairly mild for the next couple of days, but as mentioned above, temperatures are expected to plummet from Sunday onwards. Winds will turn to a more north-easterly or easterly direction, dragging in bitterly cold air from northern Russia. Widespread overnight frosts are expected from Sunday night onwards with daytime temperatures struggling to rise much above freezing in places on Monday. There will also be an increased risk of a few snow showers during the start of next week. However, most places look likely to stay dry and bright with some sunshine, with any snow showers largely confined to northern and eastern coastal counties. This colder spell of weather is expected to last for much of next week and therefore we will have to wait a little while longer before another taste of spring.

    By: Chris Burton