The latest weather buzz

Weather updates from site founder Brian Gaze that keep you in the know.

Jet stream taking a dip

Published 17th February 12:15

Despite developments in the stratosphere through the course of the winter favouring colder periods of weather, February has turned out to be stubbornly mild so far. The Central England temperature for the month is currently 8.1°C which is a massive 4.3°C above the 1961-90 average. However, there are signs of a change developing during the next week.

Jet stream heads south

A change in the position of the jet stream will be the catalyst for change. The forecast chart below is for Saturday, 24th February, and it shows the jet stream taking more of a northwest to southeast tilt. The UK is on its colder northern side, so temperatures will take a dip if it is correct.

GFS jet stream forecast chart
Jet stream forecast

Nonetheless, it is a case of temperatures trending back towards the average in the south and rather cold conditions returning in the north. At this stage there are no indications of anything notably cold, just something more typical for late February. Recent temperatures in parts of the UK would not have been out of place in May or even early June.

Temperatures trend downwards

The chart below shows forecast maximum temperatures on Friday, 23rd February, it is generated using data from the UK Met Office global model.

UK Met Global temperature forecast chart
UK Met Global temperature forecast

At this time of the year the sun is increasingly strong, therefore in bright spells temperatures rise quite quickly even under a relatively cold air mass. However, if showers come along the opposite is true and temperature will fall sharply.

Chilly but snow mostly over high ground

The expectation is it will become cold enough for sleet or snow showers in the northern half of the UK and over the Scottish mountains significant falls are possible. A west or northwesterly Atlantic based flow tends to be good news for the Scottish ski resorts. Snow is possible at lower levels at times, but accumulations are likely to be transient.

UK Met Global precipitation forecast chart
UK Met Global precipitation forecast

In the southern half of the UK the chance of snow will probably be restricted to higher ground, for example the Welsh mountains and the Peak District.

Beast From the East?

At this stage, there is no suggestion from computer models of a cold spell like the Beast from the East in February and March 2018. In fact, there are indications of temperatures rising in early March. The snow bombs which some reports have been discussing seem a long way off.


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