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A rare weather phenomenon known as a “sudden stratospheric warming” could see Britain hit with snow and freezing temperatures.
Following the two recent cold snaps a new and more extreme spell of snowy weather could arrive in the middle of February, according to the Met Office’s Alex Deakin.
Normally, high-altitude polar vortex winds keep icy air locked up around the North Pole. But a weakening of those winds, allied to a slow-down in the jet stream, could “release the beast” and send a blast of Arctic weather our way.
READ MORE: Met Office warn of further 'cold snaps' over reports of 'snow bomb' ready to blast UK
And Met Office forecaster Alex Deakin says that there’s a 25% chance the polar vortex could weaken so dramatically it triggers a sudden stratospheric warming [SSW] – with the upper atmosphere warming up and sending a mass of bitterly cold Arctic air towards the British Isles.
The SSW phenomenon last happened in January 2021, when it sent temperatures in Aberdeenshire plummeting to an incredible -26C, – the coldest temperature recorded in the UK for almost 30 years.
Alex says that the latest computer models show an SSW is a very real possibility.
Even without an SSW phenomenon, forecasters say we can expect mid-February to be lower than the -10C recorded in parts of the country this week.
And while we might have to wait until February for fresh snowfall, we can certainly expect frosty mornings for the next few days.
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On Wednesday January 18, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has extended the current level 3 cold weather alert until tomorrow (Monday 23) at least.
Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at UKHSA, said: “Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly older people and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.
“During this period, it is important to check in on family, friends and relatives who may be more vulnerable to the cold weather.
He added: "If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it is important to try and heat your home to at least 18°C if you can".
For people struggling to afford heating bills, Simple Energy Advice provides free advice on energy efficiency and national grants that are available to help keep you warm this winter.
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- Met Office
- UK Weather
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