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Provisional figures from the Met Office show that February was a mild month with a provisional UK mean temperature of 5.3C which is 1.6C above the 1981-2010 average. Overall winter 2016/17 was mild and dry, but temperatures in the south eastern corner of England were close to the average due to more of a continental influence.
As we head into the meteorological spring will similar weather patterns continue? The TWO seasonal forecast suggests that over the three month period temperatures will be above the average, but early on there is quite a high likelihood of colder spells.
The headline from the March monthly update is for an often unsettled month with close to average temperatures. Colder periods are expected, especially in the north where there is a risk of snow at times. The latest computer ensemble data continues to support this outlook.
The month has started on an unsettled note. During the coming days further wet weather is forecast, but as we head towards the middle of the month a change is possible. Some computer model runs are predicting that high pressure will become centred in the Atlantic, and this would allow cold Arctic air to sweep southwards towards the UK. At this time of the year a strengthening sun means that even under a cold air mass temperatures can rise rapidly during the days. The flipside of the coin is that showers are more likely to develop in inland areas and due to a lag effect sea temperatures around the UK are lower than in the early part of winter. Snow is still very possible, even in southern counties.
The GEFS06z ensemble model postage stamp plot below shows forecast pressure patterns from each of the individual runs on Tuesday 14th March. Quite a number show high pressure to the west, with the UK under a northerly flow of sorts. Some of the runs go on to show the pattern persisting well into the second half of the month (see on the TWO chart viewer) with the likelihood of colder conditions, especially in the north.
The March forecast headline is for close to average temperatures and slightly above average rainfall amounts. The latest model data offers support for this outlook and suggests the probability of a colder period during the middle part of the month. This could bring a risk of snow to northern regions and there is a chance of the cold air spreading into southern counties for a time.
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