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Weather news and views from Brian Gaze.
The Easter weekend starts with quiet weather and in sunny spells it will feel pleasant. During Sunday a dramatic change begins to take place as bitterly cold Arctic air moves southwards. By Bank Holiday Monday it covers all of the UK bringing a late taste of winter.
The GFS chart below for 15 GMT, Monday 5th April shows the very cold air covering all of the UK and pushing down into central France. Upper level air temperatures of close to -10C are covering all of the country and values that low make for a potent cold blast even this late in the season.
The April sun is quite strong. Therefore, even with the very cold air mass overhead temperatures at the ground level will rise quickly in bright spells. The GFS forecast 2m maximum temperature chart below shows values peaking at around 6C in the south, but it has a tendency to undershoot by a degree or two.
In parts of Scotland temperatures are several degrees below freezing point, so an ice day in some locations appears to be a distinct possibility.
Strong winds add to the cold feel. Coming after the recent warmth it will feel like the calendar has reverted to January!
The data from the computer models suggests that falling snow is possible in large parts of the UK. In my experience the GFS model tends to over forecast both the risk of snow falling and accumulating. Nonetheless, the chart below for 15 GMT, Bank Holiday Monday, suggests that even in southern England there is a chance of snow falling to low levels.
The Canadian GEM model also shows the risk of snow pushing down into southern counties. The chart below for the same time shows the showers being more scattered than the GFS indicates. Nonetheless, the white shading in parts of southern England highlights snow.
Finally, the ICON chart below keeps the snow showers mainly confined to the north and coastal counties. I suspect that whilst the GFS may be overcooking the snow risk this model could be going a little too far in the opposite direction. We'll soon see!
What about accumulations of snow? They are most likely in the north and over high ground. However, I wouldn't rule out the chance of temporary coverings locally in the south. Much depends on timing and the extent of the showers, but if any snow accumulates in the south it will rapidly melt when the sun appears.
A notable late cold blast is forecast by computer models. Confidence in the general pattern developing is now very high but less clear is the extent of the shower risk. The very cold air and strong sun may increase the potential for snow showers in inland areas, but the heaviest ones look like being in the north and coastal counties.
The very cold conditions are expected to continue on Tuesday. Beyond that the forecast details become less certain, but temperatures probably stay well below the April average for the rest of the week. Further showers or longer spells of rain, sleet and snow are a possibility.
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