Britain braces for ‘Beast from the East’ as sub-zero temperatures set to plunge to icy -8C

UK weather: Met Office forecast further ice and snow

The current cold spell is expected to last into next week, and could be trumped by even worse to come. The last Siberian weather front to earn that nickname hit in 2018 when snow blanketed large areas and temperatures fell to -14C. Now the Met Office is tracking two weather events “fighting for influence over the UK”, which could see temperatures plunge in coming weeks. 

Yesterday parts of the country woke to below freezing temperatures with Loch Glascarnoch in the Highlands at -8C.

But more is set to come, with meteorologists observing Sudden Stratospheric Warming, normally associated with a big freeze.

It is the phenomenon that brought the 2018 Beast from the East. Experts are also tracking La Niña, dragging fiercely wet and stormy weather. Met Office spokeswoman 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 fighting for influence over 
the UK.”

In 2018, Public Health England put out a Level 3 cold-weather alert, one step below a national emergency as major services were disrupted.

Last winter was relatively mild but experts warn this year we might not be so lucky.

Yesterday, forecaster John Hammond, of the website Weather­trending, said: “There are signs this winter will be quite different. Of course, some places have already had snow, and much of early December stayed quite cold.”

The notorious Beast from the East occurs when rapid warming happens up to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Mr Hammond added: “That caused a Polar Vortex to go into reverse, delivering bitter winds from Siberia, in place of our more usual mild Atlantic winds.”

He added ominously: “There are signs the stratosphere is beginning to ‘misbehave’ again this winter. That may have unpredictable and extreme impacts on our weather later on this winter. With this would come the chance of severe snowfall and extreme cold.”

Ms Maxey added that the warming in the stratosphere takes at least 10 days to move down.

The forecaster continued: “The feeling at the moment is that we may see some colder weather towards the end of January into February.”

Meanwhile, temperatures are expected to remain below average with rain, sleet and snow expected in parts.

Ms Maxey said: “This cold spell will last into next week. By the time we get to Friday, we’re starting to see the chance that things might warm up a bit.

“But we’re still looking at 3C or 4C for London, with isolated areas perhaps seeing 6C.”

Persistent rain is expected in the South East, with between 0.2in and 0.6in set to fall over two days. The region could see some snow on Thursday and Friday but it would not settle.

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