Western Morning News
MET OFFICE ON RUMOURS OF NEW‘BEAST FROM THE EAST’
THE Met Office has responded to rumours that Devon and Cornwall are about to be hit with a ‘Beast from the East’ spell of cold weather.
The suggestion we are in for a big freeze comes from a meteorological event known as ‘sudden stratospheric warming’, in which air high in the stratosphere warms up rapidly, causing cold air to disperse. In 2018, this led to heavy snowfall.
The Met Office says that a similar event is currently taking place which will lead to colder temperatures later this month, but added that it is too early to say whether it will lead to snow as several factors in the weather pattern influence the weather we see.
A spokesperson for the Met Office told the Western Morning News that, when a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) happened last year, there was merely a spell of cold temperatures and no heavy snowfall, saying: “The sudden stratospheric warming which some nickname ‘the Beast from the East’ is just starting now high up in the atmosphere and usually takes around ten days to reach the surface, which is when we notice its impact. It doesn’t necessarily mean snow, like what happened in 2018. For example, last year when it happened we just had a spell of cold weather and several factors need to happen for there to be snowfall.
“We’re keeping an eye on the weather patterns and the general feeling is, while we will see some incidents from the east, it won’t be much colder than it currently is. If we look at the 30-day forecast, it looks like it will stay as it now for a while before getting warmer in the middle of the month before the
impact of the SSW will set in, and it will return to the cold temperatures we have now as we go into February.”
The spokesperson also revealed that it is too early to say with any certainty whether this will lead to snow. The spokesperson added: “It’s too far out in weather terms to say for sure whether this will lead to snow or rain. Half a degree in temperature is the difference between snow and rain, so at the moment it’s too early to say and so we can’t be prescriptive. Unlike places like , which are large landmasses, Great Britain is an island surrounded by ocean and, because of that, it’s influenced by different weather patterns across the world.
“The La Niña ocean-atmosphere pattern in the southern hemisphere can often bring milder, more westerly weather patterns and it is possible, depending on the activity of La Niña and how that interacts with the impact of the sudden stratospheric warming as to how it will affect our weather, as it’s two different systems vying against each other.
“While there is a sudden stratospheric warming, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will bring snow and at the moment it’s too early to say exactly how it will affect us.”