A weather event is said to be occurring which could set off another ‘Beast from the East’ and hit the UK at the end of the month. Bring it on, things can’t get much worse.
Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath, found that a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event is currently unfolding high above the North Pole.
SSW events are some of the most extreme of atmospheric phenomena and can see polar stratospheric temperature increase by up to 50°C over the course of a few days. Such events can bring very cold weather, which often result in snowstorms
The infamous 2018 ‘Beast from the East’ was brought on by a SSW. It can take a number of weeks for the disturbance to reach the surface, or the process may only take a few days.
The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), involved the analysis of 40 observed SSW events.
Lead author of the study, Dr Richard Hall, said there was an increased chance of extreme cold, and potentially snow, over the next week or two.
He added: “While an extreme cold weather event is not a certainty, around two thirds of SSWs have a significant impact on surface weather. At the moment it is hard to say whether this event is going to be a split or displacement type.”
Dann Mitchell, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Bristol and co-author of the study, added: “The extreme cold weather that these polar vortex breakdowns bring is a stark reminder of how suddenly our weather can flip.
“Even with climate change warming our planet, these events will still occur, meaning we must be adaptable to an ever more extreme range of temperatures.”
The Met Office has anticipated we will experience a patch of colder weather at the end of the month but believes that temperatures will not be as low as 2018 – specifically the kind that brought about the Beast from the East.
Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey said: “You’ve got the two events happening at the same time so they vie against each other in a sense. They’re sort of fighting for influence over the UK, we’re a very small dot in the middle of the ocean.
“The feeling at the moment is that we may see some colder weather towards the end of January into February, but probably the sort of weather that we’re seeing at the moment, as opposed to what is popularly perceived as a Beast from the East.”