Weather phenomenon could lead to coldest temperatures in years with heavy snow


According to the Met Office there is increasing confidence that the recent Sudden Stratospheric Warming above the North Pole could lead to prolonged cold conditions over the UK.

With the warming in the atmosphere there is a risk of an easterly wind bringing the coldest temperatures yet and a significant amount of snow.

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Met Office forecasts suggest that the cold conditions and heavy snow will arrive during later next week with the colder temperatures even lasting until March.

Frank Saunders is a Met Office Chief Operational Meteorologist. He said: “A Sudden Stratospheric Warming implies around a 70 per cent chance of cold conditions across the UK.

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“There tends to be a lag of about 10 days before we see the downstream effects on the UK’s weather, as it takes time for the influence in the upper atmosphere to feed down to those levels where our weather happens.

“The outcome for the UK’s weather is still uncertain, but forecasts from computer models at the Met Office and at other centres are beginning to coalesce around a greater likelihood of cold conditions in the days and weeks to come.”

What is Stratospheric Warming ?

Stratospheric Warming is a rapid warming (up to about 50 ­°C in just a couple of days) in the stratosphere, between 10 km and 50 km up.

This causes the Polar Jet to wobble and these wobbles, or waves, break just like waves on the beach.

When they break they can be strong enough to weaken or even reverse the westerly winds and swing them to easterlies.

As this happens, air in the stratosphere starts to collapse in to the polar cap and compress. As it compresses it warms, hence the stratospheric warming.

More than often a cold snap follows the warming and greatly increases the risk of wintry weather and snow.

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