UK weather: Temperatures to ‘tumble below freezing’

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A stronger cold snap is poised to hit Britain in a matter of days, a forecaster has warned. New maps reveal a snow narrative will begin to unfold on February 2, with Scotland seeing the first wintry shower overnight. Up to 10cm could be set to hit the Highlands first, but, this theme will continue over the coming days with this number stretching to a whopping 19cm of snow to layer the rural spot. By February 5, northern England could be set for up to 11cm, with the Midlands blanketed under 6cm. 

Jim Dale, from British Weather Services, said this sub-zero period will last for up to a week as the freezing winter rumbles on. He told “It’s more like February 2 and 3 it starts unwinding with snow into February 4 and 5.

“Again northern areas most at risk with universal frosts/ice, but it’ll be deep for Scotland and the north. The polar front will be down near the north Mediterranean by then so it’s moderated Arctic air all the way.”

Maps currently show Tuesday, February 7 as being the worst-hit day for the nation with an astonishing 49cm hammering the Scottish Highlands, 11cm in the north west, and up to 7cm layering Manchester. 

The outskirts of Cardiff in Wales could get 5cm, with the tip of the south-east, namely Cambridgeshire, potentially getting up to 2cm. Temperatures on this day will plunge to -10C in Manchester, -1C in the Midlands and 0C in the south-east that morning.

In areas worst hit by snow, schools could close and transport networks are likely to grind to a halt. Mr Dale added: “It looks set for at least a week so it won’t be a one day wonder.”

He added: “Scotland will be worst hit – northern England and Wales coming a good second. The rest we await the nuances.”

Ian Simpson, a forecaster from NetWeather, explained in his blog that sudden stratospheric warming will be occurring by February – but it won’t be enough to trigger a Beast from the East weather front.

He said: “In a nutshell, there looks to be a minor SSW by February, but this only looks to displace the polar vortex away from the pole. The displacement may not change much of the surface though, with the background La Nina and MJO moving over the Indian Ocean more likely continuing to force the pattern.

“It typically means in early February with a return of mobile Atlantic westerlies bringing unsettled and milder conditions. The caveat is that recent weather patterns this winter have not necessarily conformed to the typical imprint of La Nina forcing, so there is still uncertainty how the upcoming more blocked weather patterns will evolve as we head into February.”

He said if this was to happen in the way he has detailed, it would take weeks to materialise for the UK. He added: ” If a major SSW does occur, which there is no concrete evidence of occurring for now, then this could change things and override other drivers such as La Nina and MJO.

“But if one does occur, it could take several weeks for impacts to be noticed at the surface. Which could mean late February or even into March.”

The Met Office long-range forecast for this period alludes to “wintry showers” but it does not specify anything inparticular. Looking ahead from January 27 to February 5, it adds: “On Friday, fine weather is expected at first in the south, with some patchy frost and fog possible.

“Cloud and outbreaks of light rain and drizzle are likely across in northwest spreading southeast throughout the day. Further spells of persistent rain, with strong winds, are expected in the northwest later.

“For the rest of the period, dry and clear conditions, with sunny spells are expected across many places. Rainbands could spread from the northwest at times, weakening as they move southeastwards.

“As a result, rain and wintry showers are expected in the north and northwest, with isolated rain across the southern and southeastern areas. Strong winds with gales are likely in the far north. Temperatures overall will be near normal to mild, with overnight frost.”

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