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Weather news and views from Brian Gaze.

Cold weather may return in February

After a mild start winter may come back

Published 27th January, 11:22

January is ending on a mixed note, and despite the cold period earlier on, the Central England Temperature (CET) is provisionally 0.4°C above the 1961-90 average as of the 25th. The last few days of the month will be often be mild in southern and central regions, but the north has colder conditions at times.

February starts mild

The early part of February is likely to continue in a similar vein. With high pressure centred to the south, it will often be mild and temperatures could reach the mid teens Celsius. Although that is well above the norm, it is not approaching the current record of 21.2°C, which was recorded in Kew Gardens in London on 26th February 2019.

If that is to be challenged it would very likely happen towards the very end of the month when the days are longer and there is more time for solar input to warm things up. However, computer models are suggesting temperatures will dip as we head towards the middle of the month.

GFS 06Z temperature forecast chart for early February
Early February may be characterised by mild weather

Nonetheless, the mild conditions could be quite notable and they should lead to daffodils blooming widely in the southern half of the UK. That is always a sign that spring is just around the corner. However, with that said, computer models are suggesting temperatures will be taking a dip through the second week of the month. 

Colder weather returning

The London GEFS chart below shows forecast temperatures from all of the runs in the ensemble model for the next 16 days.

The key points to note are:

1) Between now and 5th February temperatures are close to or above the average. As discussed, there is there is the potential for it to be very mild on some days.

2) Between 5th and 11th February a downwards trend in temperatures is visible. It is important to qualify that by adding that it doesn't look particularly cold; it's just becoming close to or a little below the norm.

3) The latest GEFS35 day run (see GEFS 35 day charts) favours colder conditions in the middle of February  

GEFS 2m temperature plot for London
Temperatures may dip by the second week

A number of factors support this idea, one of them is the recent Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) event. SSWs are known to increase the risk of cold weather in mid latitude locations, such as the UK, several weeks after they have occurred. NOTE: They do not guarantee cold weather. There are examples where no discernible impact is experienced, and also ones where they lead to very mild weather due to the positioning of high pressure blocks.

Snow later in February?

Although the days are rapidly lengthening, cold and snowy weather is more likely in February than December. Statistically, it is very similar to January, although in recent years it has brought some notably mild spells.

At this stage it isn't possible to assess the risk of snow in anything other than broad brush terms. In southern counties the risk would be increased if high pressure builds over Scandinavia and an easterly feed develops. This is what happened in February and March 2018 when the Beast From The East arrived. Alternatively, high pressure building towards Greenland, would mean the greatest risk of snow would be in the northern half of the UK.      

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