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March outlook

Spring on hold?



The meteorological winter wasn't cold with the Central England Temperature (CET) close to average in December, above average in January and slightly below average in February. Despite it being on the mild side in much of the UK  winter ended on a bitterly cold note as a pool of Siberian air moved westwards across Europe. That was thought to be at least partly caused by the state of the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the exceptional Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) event. The impacts continue to be felt and there are tentative signs of more cold weather later in the month.

Berkhamsted station in the snowThe cold spell broke in early March but could it return later in the month?

Beast from the East v2.0?

Medium range computer models are showing an above average chance of high pressure building to the north or northeast of the UK during the second half of the month. That would increase the risk of cold air returning from the north or east. Although the days are rapidly lengthening snow remains very possible and white Easters are said to be more common than white Christmases in the UK.  

The GFS forecast chart below shows one possible scenario. A high pressure block forms in the North Atlantic and it allows a plunge of very cold Arctic air to push down across the UK. That would lead to wintry conditions and widespread frosts in all of the UK but northern areas would be most likely to have disruptive snow. Alternatively high pressure could build across Scandinavia like in late February and allow the Beast from the East back in.

At this stage it is too early to be confident about developments. It is possible that the UK will remain under a milder air mass but the chances of another wintry outbreak are higher than normal.   

GFS forecast chart


The TWO monthly forecast issued on 03/03 is for March to be a colder than average month. Although the freeze which began in February broke in early March, computer models are suggesting that cold weather may come back later in the month. Despite the rapidly strengthening sun and lengthening days, it is not too late for the risk of snow and sharp nighttime frosts to return.

TWO monthly forecast

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