Snow alert for this week as charts show -4C Artic blast to sweep UK

Met Office warns of snow for some areas of UK

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An Arctic weather ‘U-turn’ in the upper atmosphere could spell the biggest winter snowfall in Britain for five years sending temperatures plummeting to minus 4C. Meteorologists have been tracking a significant “Sudden Stratospheric Warming” (SSW) over the North Pole that will cause a butterfly effect of changes to weather here in the UK.

GB News reports the last SSW powered the memorable “Beast from the East” that battered the British Isles with days of blizzard-like conditions. Now the focus is on next week and into the start of March to see if this SSW sparks the same chain reaction that saw Britain grind to a halt in late winter five years ago.

When an SSW occurs it causes usually high cold air to fall in altitude down from the stratosphere and warm, this forces the cold polar air in the troposphere, the layer underneath the stratosphere, to spill out of the Arctic region into temperate areas like the UK.

Impacts from these weather events can last up to 10 days. James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, told the news channel: “There has been a major U-turn, and we now see a significant wintry blast hitting the UK around the middle of next week.

“This will bring the risk of bitter northerly winds and the possibility of heavy snow, which could be widespread. Initially, these will hit the north, but could reach southern England, and we expect this to happen from the middle to latter part of next week.

“Weather models are starting to suggest this outcome, and although they are still to confirm any effect on the UK weather, the overall set up suggests the development of a prolonged cold period with the risk of significant snowfall.”

Atmospheric scientist Dr Simon Lee, co-editor in chief of the Royal Meteorological Society journal ‘Weather’, tweeted that a ‘major sudden stratospheric warming (SSW)’ occurred on Tuesday.

If Britons will be shivering in a late winter blast or battling storms will become clearer by the middle of next week, experts predict.

Dr Todd Crawford, meteorologist for The Weather Company, told GB News: “The potential SSW may delay the onset of spring, but climate models are generally cooler/wetter than they have been in recent years, which would be a welcome outcome after the very dry and warm year last year.”

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for wind snow and ice this weekend across Scotland and parts of northeast England.

About 2,000 homes which lost power during Storm Otto had still not been reconnected to the grid on Saturday morning. The Met Office said the storm has “well and truly cleared” but around 2,000 homes in Aberdeenshire remain without power.

The forecasting body said the storm, which left more than 60,000 homes without power, has moved onto the continent and is now affecting Scandinavia.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said it had restored power to around 41,000 homes since the storm struck and hopes to reconnect those still without power by the end of Saturday. SSEN said it has sent food vans to the main areas still cut off from supply and they will serve food and drink from 8am on Saturday.

A yellow warning for snow and ice was in place for central parts of Scotland until 9am on Saturday but milder conditions are expected over the weekend. Gusts of 83mph were recorded in Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire, while wind speed exceeded 70mph across much of Yorkshire and Northumberland.

Trains and flights were cancelled and roads blocked by overturned lorries in northern England during the storm. In England, Northern Powergrid said about 21,000 customers lost power, with one person still affected by 8.30am on Saturday.

A spokesperson said: “It was a fantastic effort by our teams to restore power to 21,595 customers as a result of the storm, across what was a challenging day.” On Friday morning, a man was taken to hospital in a serious condition after a tree fell on a street in Sheffield.

On Friday evening, the mercury plunged to -3.1C (26.42F) in Altnaharra in the Highlands but did not fall below 11C (51.8F) in London’s St James’s Park. The wettest spot was Spadeadam, Cumbria, where 18.8mm of rain fell.

The storm, the first to be named this winter, was labelled Otto by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). It is the first named storm to directly affect the UK this storm-naming season, which began in September.

The first storm to be named by the Met Office, or the Irish and Dutch weather services, this season will still be Storm Antoni, in accordance with the 2022/23 storm name list.

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