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Beast from the East update as forecasters unveil chances of cold snap

Weather: Met office forecasts colder air for the week ahead

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The UK is edging ever-closer to a period of cold weather, with temperatures tipped to plunge to -10C in some areas. Interactive weather maps paint a worrying picture for Britain, as bouts of snow look set to cake parts of the country by early March. While some parts of the UK may get a mere dusting – Beast from the East rumours have been swirling. 

The last time the UK was subjected to a strong snowstorm, named the Beast from the East, was back in February 2018. The deadly mix of snow and gale force winds from the north east pushing towards Britain was indirectly caused by sudden stratospheric warming.

Warming of the stratosphere has been happening this month, and it can have a delayed effect on the UK’s weather some two to three weeks later. This catapults any freezing conditions into March, a period under intense scrutiny by meteorologists and weather experts at the moment. 

While the slow-emerging cold snap may not even happen, in the last 24 hours models have started to lay bare just how chilly the early days of a new month could look. 

But the big question is; will the Beast strike again? While snow could hit some regions, will it be enough to bring the country to its knees like it did five years ago? 

In a nutshell, the chances of cold weather reaching much of the UK by March 7 is increasing. But forecasters are still very reluctant to predict a full on Beast from the East as yet. 

Jim Dale, senior meteorologist for British Weather Services, claimed he coined the beast phrase some two decades ago. While he does not rule out its return in around 10 days, he said it may not be as severe as some people think. 

He told “In the longer run the Beast may arrive but it’s looking like the Troll from Trondheim first, affecting the north – then we are waiting on whether the Beast makes a move.”

Ian Simpson, a forecaster for NetWeather, wrote an entire blog post on the likelihood of it battering Britain, but he too was not sure enough to categorically say it is or isn’t expected.

His post concluded that the big freeze everyone is dreading may not even amount to anything. He said: “A deep cold northerly flow, with potential to bring significantly low temperatures and even snow, is certainly a possibility in early March.

“However, lows moving east over the North Atlantic phasing with low pressure to the east and northeast of Britain may eventually cut-off the northerly flow. But there is still some uncertainty over whether the very cold air from the north will arrive, but if it does arrive, even more uncertainty over longevity.

“Lots of unknowns, but be prepared for a cold start to March, possibly very cold with a risk of snow for some. However, we’ll update on this potential over the coming days.”

While weather maps are starting to show their true colours, quite literally, they are only a glimpse into the models which the Met Office say are run “numerous times” to come to produce an accurate and informed prediction. 

What do we know so far?

Weather maps so far show the first snowfall to hit the north of England and Scotland overnight between March 5 and 6. How much of this will lay is still a mystery – but – Scotland’s overnight temperatures will fall below freezing.

This band of snow then begins to move southwards throughout the day with up to 6cm of snow hitting Newcastle and 4cm in the vicinity of Manchester. The south east, south west and Wales will remain milder for a short time longer before sub-zero air from the east pushes in around 24 hours later.

The country will stay somewhat locked in this cold frame, with sporadic snow showers, strong winds until at least March 11 – which is the current end date for any weather map data. During this time Scotland, rural Wales and parts of northern England could see bitter lows of -11C overnight. 

This could trigger a cold weather alert for England from the Met Office and the UK Health Security Agency if predictions play out as currently predicted. While a rough guide of what to come can be obtained, the sub-zero plume’s strength is not yet known. 

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