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03rd Oct 2023

‘Beast from the East’: Met Office responds to claims UK will be ‘battered by months of snow’

Steve Hopkins

Temperatures are set to soar to 27C this weekend

The Met Office has responded to suggestions that the weather phenomenon that caused the Beast from the East in 2018 will return in November and stay into the new year, amid reports that an ‘Indian Summer’ is also set to return.

The beast led to weeks of freezing temperatures, heavy snow, and heavy winds. It was the result of anticyclone Hartmut which brought a cold wave from a large arctic airmass to our shores. Seventeen lives were lost during the two weeks from Hartmut’s formation on 22 February to its dissipation on 5 March before the arrival of Storm Emma. Temperatures dropped to lows of almost -12C overnight, power cuts hit, airports halted flights and the first-ever red warning for snow was issued.

On Monday, it was reported that the weather phenomenon that caused the Beast from the East in 2018 will return in November and stay into the new year.

Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden told the Mirror that there is a “medium-high risk for an early SSW (sudden stratospheric warming) from in and around mid-November onwards this year”. However, he added that it could take “a number of weeks” before its impact can be seen in Britain.

There is an “even greater risk” of a SSW occurring throughout January and February that are “likely to be highly influential on our overall weather patterns in terms of snow and cold.”

According to the Met Office, a sudden stratospheric warming refers to what happens in the stratosphere – a rapid warming of up to 50C in a couple of days, between 10km and 50km above the Earth’s surface.

Because it happens so far away, we don’t usually feel the warming, but that affects our weather lower down.

The Met Office adds: “Every year in winter, strong westerly winds circle around the pole high up in the stratosphere. This is called the stratospheric polar vortex and it circulates around cold air high over the Arctic. In some years, the winds in the polar vortex temporarily weaken, or even reverse to flow from east to west.

“The cold air then descends very rapidly in the polar vortex and this causes the temperature in the stratosphere to rise very rapidly, as much as 50­°C over only a few days; hence the term sudden stratospheric warming. As the cold air from high up in the stratosphere disperses, it can affect the shape of the jet stream as the cold air sinks from the stratosphere into the troposphere. It is this change in the jet stream that causes our weather to change.”

The change in the jet stream can cause it to “snake” more, creating an area of what is called “blocking high pressure” over the North Atlantic and Scandinavia, The Mirror reported.

The event stops other weather systems from moving past it, and results in the UK experiencing extended periods of low temperatures. And, in some cases, huge downpours of snow.

Madden told the Daily Star the weather phenomenon does not mean it will snow throughout that entire period, but suggested at least one or two SSW events are due this winter.

A spokesperson for the Met Office has since told The Mirror “there’s no snow in the current forecast” and added that parts of the UK could be in store for some unusually warm weather this coming week, with some places “reaching the mid-20s”.

The UK experienced the warmest September on record and the balmy weather is expected to continue into early October.

Highs of 27C are predicted on both Saturday and Sunday in London – making the capital as hot as Marbella and Ibiza – according to Apple weather.

After hovering around 18C throughout this week, temperatures will start to creep up on Friday, when it will peak at 22C.

The warm weather will continue into next week, with highs of 24C predicted on Monday in the capital.

Jim Dale, a meteorologist for British Weather Services, believes temperatures will remain high until at least mid-October.

GFS weather charts turn dark red on Friday and according to current forecasts, the southwest of England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland will experience the first wave of intense heat.

Temperatures are expected to reach 23C in Birmingham and parts of the northwest over the weekend.

Dale told The Mirror said: “I think we can fairly call this an Indian Summer incoming – it will be peaking this time next week, but it will still be pretty good to the halfway stage of October. About 25C tops next Sunday is my call.”

Related links:

‘Beast from the East’ set to return and bring snow to UK ‘for months’

More than 3,200 Brits killed by heatwave in 2022 as temperatures hit 40C

‘Time traveller from 2090’ warns humans of worst event in history in coming days

Dramatic moment cliff collapses on UK beach as hot weather scorches rocks