The Met Office has issued a fresh warning for snow and ice for most of the UK, with temperature set to dip as low as -5C in London on Saturday – amid concerns Britain will have to brace itself for a second Arctic blast from Siberia, dubbed ‘Beast from the East II’.
The Met Office has issued weather warnings for icy conditions across Britain today – but it has now revised the alert.
From 5pm tonight, the alert warns of snow and ice potentially causing disruption across country, except for London, the South coast and the South East.
Flurries fell over London this morning, but there was much heavier snowfall in Northumbria, Yorkshire and in Scotland, after temperatures dropped as low as -9C overnight.
It comes amid warnings that the Beast from the East, which caused chaos across the country in 2018, could return.
The same conditions that brought snow storms three years ago are forming again high up in the atmosphere.
The ‘sudden stratospheric warming’ (SSW) event happens when the temperature in the stratosphere soars by 50C (122F). This ‘reverses’ Britain’s wind pattern, from the warmer west out in the Atlantic to the east – and Siberia.
It can take two weeks for the effects of a SSW to be felt. This was the case in February 2018 with the infamous Beast from the East, which saw much of the UK gripped by travel chaos and school closures amid heavy snow.
Dr Richard Hall, an expert in SSWs from the University of Bristol, said it ‘loads the dice’ or ‘tips the odds’ in favour of another blast of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures from Siberia.
Temperatures dropped to -9C in Northumberland, with snow falling at Langley Castle, near Haydon Brige, overnight
Snow fell over South London on Thursday morning, as swathes of England awoke to warnings of ice lasting most of today
North Yorkshire was covered in snow – with more set to come overnight and into tomorrow after the Met Office issued a revised warning to start from 5pm
Around 11cm of snow fell over parts of Scotland tonight, but locals in West Lanarkshire, including mother and daughter Amanda and Samantha Shaw, remain undettered by the weather
Snow lay on the ground as fog blanketed Tatton Park in Cheshire this morning on a freezing cold morning across Britain
Families flocked to Queen’s Park in Glasgow with their sleighs to enjoy the snow, with Scotland set for dry conditions for the rest of Thursday
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for snow and ice to cause disruption across large parts of the UK from 5pm tonight (left) until midnight on Friday (right)
What is Sudden Stratospheric Warming?
Severe conditions that hit Britain in February 2018 were described by the Met Office as a ‘cocktail of weather events’.
The cold spell dubbed the ‘the Beast from the East’ – which also coincided with the arrival of Storm Emma – was caused by a jump in temperatures high over the Arctic, known by meteorologists as ‘sudden stratospheric warming’.
The phenomenon, which in Britain usually leads to cold periods, begins 30km (18 miles) into the atmosphere in the high altitude jet stream, which usually flows from west to east, bringing relatively warm and wet air from the Atlantic into the UK.
A disturbance hits the jet stream, pushing its waves down towards the Arctic and reversing the stream from east to west. As the air is compressed over this region, it begins to warm.
This leads to high pressure over the North Atlantic, blocking the usual flow of mild air that flows into Britain from the west.
Instead, colder air from the east is sucked over the British Isles, resulting in colder temperatures.
Britain recorded lows of -12C in Loch Glascarnoch yesterday, with freezing temperatures in London, while Manchester and Cardiff woke up to the mercury dropping to -2C – after dipping to -9C in Northumberland overnight.
Dense fog is lining large parts of the country this morning, including over Bristol, Cheshire and Bolton.
Temperatures have remained in the single digits for most of this week, yesterday the highest recorded temperature was just 6.7C, in Ballywatticock, Northern Ireland.
Snow showers and freezing fog have swept across Scotland as a yellow weather warning covers the country.
The Met Office has warned of travel disruption as it issued the alert for snow and ice covering almost all of the nation throughout Thursday until midnight.
Snow up to 11cm deep was recorded in the Highlands at Loch Glascarnoch, with temperatures plummeting as low as minus 6.4C at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway overnight.
Oli Claydon, Met Office forecaster, said: ‘There’s been a fragmented front moving south-eastwards, that’s what’s brought the snow.
‘We then have showers coming in, these showers could even fall as snow – particularly in northern Scotland.’
The snow is widespread across Scotland although areas such as the north east have not seen as much.
Forecasters said much of inland Scotland will be dry for most of the day after the clearance of the rain, sleet and snow on Thursday morning.
However, snow showers are then expected in northern Scotland, especially during the afternoon and evening.
A further 2cm to 5cm is likely at low levels with around 10cm above 200 metres.
Youngsters were sledding down hills in Biggar today, amid warnings a second Beast from the East could be on the way
Others enjoyed sledging in Queen’s Park in Glasgow today where dozens of children and adults alike enjoyed the snow
There was plenty of snow to play with for excitable dogs being taken for a walk in Carnwath, Scotland on Thursday morning
Tonight’s weather warning for snow and ice covers most of England, including Hawes in North Yorkshire (pictured today), as well as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland awoke to snow and ice warnings today, after County Offaly in neighbouring Ireland endured a cold start
Snowfall in North Yorkshire today came amid warnings that the Beast from the East, which caused chaos across the country in 2018, could return. The same conditions that brought snow storms three years ago are forming again high up in the atmosphere
The snow didn’t stop everyone enjoying a walk in the countryside today. Pictured: People walk a snowy path in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales
People walk a snowy path in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales, today after a blanket of snow was left across the surrounding countryside
The cold snap is set to continue this weekend and possibly into next week. Pictured: People walk on a snowy path in the Brecon Beacons
The Midlands was no exception in the cold snap, with walkers at Bradgate Park in Leicester, enjoying a cold and bright morning
Freezing temperatures had villagers in Allendale, Northumberland donning their wellington boots, along with face masks amid England’s third national lockdown
Snow and ice warnings are in place over Scotland for today and tomorrow, with the white stuff blanketing homes and streets in Biggar last night
Walkers along the Yorkshire Moors today enjoyed the picturesque, snowy scenes after Britain endured freezing temperatures
Dense fog is lining large parts of the country this morning, including over Bristol (pictured, the Clifton Downs), as well as in Cheshire and Bolton, Greater Manchester
Tractors are out clearing roads along the North Pennines in Northumberland, where temperatures dipped to -9C overnight, to ensure buses and other vehicles can travel safely
The hills of Killhope, bordering Northumberland and Durham, were a scene of white today, with sheep gathering together for warmth amidst the cold
Frost clings to trees near the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in Holmes Chapel today, as freezing temperatures continue to hit Britain
The cold snap is set to continue, with more freezing temperatures on the way. Pictured: Frost clings to trees in the Cheshire countryside in Holmes Chapel
The layer of snow was particularly thick in the north, including in Northumberland. This rural home in Carrshield was covered in snow today
Scottish youngsters are set to be learning from home during the current lockdown, but a blanket of snow was far more inviting
There was frost on the roofs of houses in Fortuneswell on the Isle of Portland, near Weymouth, as weather warnings for ice line Britain’s coasts
Freezing overnight temperatures kept snow on trees over the hills of Carrshield, Northumberland earlier today
Manchester woke up to temperatures at -2C this morning, the New Islington Marina in the city centre remaining frosty today
Temperatures have remained in the single digits across Britain this week, reaching highs of just 6.7C yesterday, with large parts of the country covered in snow, including in Northumberland
Rain is expected to arrive in Scotland by Sunday, but cold temperatures and frosty starts are expected to remain until then
Families were out enjoying the snow in Queen’s Park, Glasgow this week. Freezing temperatures have caused some community-minded youngsters to go out and grit their own roads in the city
Swathes of the country woke up to temperatures at around minus two degrees today, but it didn’t stop some from donning their shorts in the brisk South Lanarkshire cold
Snow and freezing fog in South Lanarkshire comes as up to 11cm fell over the Highlands overnight, with temperatures plummeting as low as minus 6.4C at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway overnight
Heavy snow has settled over the North Pennines, Northumberland, with a cold snap set to bring more of the white stuff today
While Biggar had plented of snow this morning, more showers are expected in northern Scotland, particularly this evening
This week’s cold snap has seen snow and ice blanket large parts of Scotland – but a group of determined schoolgirls headed out to ensure their community was safe.
Skye, 6, and Amelia-Lily Henry, 8, set out with pals Sophia, 6, and Louisa Byrne, 9, set out in -3C temperatures on on Monday and Tuesday with bags of salt to grit their local street.
Mother Charlotte Fisher, 29, siad: ‘With it being lockdown, I asked my girls if they would like to go out to help with some gritting to stop the elderly from hurting themselves.
‘They loved the idea, it also gave them a bit of exercise as well as helping our community.’
The Met Office has forecast a frosty start to Saturday, with rain and strong winds moving across parts of Scotland.
It will remain rather cold across the country with patchy fog.
Snow covered rooftops and trees have painted a wintry picture in Carnwath, South Lanarkshire, this morning with some heading out to play, despite Scotland’s Covid-19 lockdown
Foggy conditions, like those seen on Rockford Common in New Forest, are expected to last into weekend, but freezing temperatures may ease off, according to the Met Office
Even dogs had to don their coats to brave the cold in Scotland today. Warnings for snow and ice remain in place across the nation for tomorrow, but conditions should ease by Saturday
But not all dogs seemed to revel in the winter weather, with some like Toby, a mixed breed dog known as a cavapoo, appearing a little sheepish during a walk on the grounds of Ferbane Care Centre
A car navigates the Buttertubs Pass in snowy conditions, near Hawes in North Yorkshire, after snow fell across the north
Despite England’s national lockdown and the frosty start to Thursday, visitors continued to arrive to the New Forest today
A shetland pony stands in an icy field in Ferbane, Co. Offaly, as much of the country woke up to snow following a Met Eireann warning for snow and ice overnight
Following frost and fog today, Sunday is expected to bring a band of cloud and patchy rain pushing in southeast across Scotland
Visibility has been cut over Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol this morning as dense fog blankets western parts of England
Dog walkers were out on the frosty grounds of the New Forest country Park in Hampshire this morning, despite freezing temperatures across swathes of Britain
Fog has cut visibility on the M5 Worcester, West Midlands where a yellow weather warning for ice is in place throughout today
Walkers braved fog and frost in the New Forest, with the Met Office predicting more cold temperature tomorrow, though it could start to ease off by the weekend
Rockford Common in the New Forest had a frosty and foggy start to Thursday morning as Britain’s cold snap continues
Manchester woke up to temperatures -2C this morning, with fog near Bolton (pictured) as some motorists still braved conditions to go to work during England’s third coronavirus lockdown
There are chance of a second Beast from the East as a major weather event known as a sudden stratospheric warming takes place miles above the earth’s surface. It comes as Bristol saw fog and frost this morning
The Grand Canal in Athy, County Kildare, has frozen this morning, making it possible for mallards to walk across the surface
Snow warnings are only in place for Northern Ireland today, with white scenes south of the border in County Kildare
Forecasters say further rain, sleet and snow falling on frozen surfaces later today and tonight may result in treacherous driving conditions.
The weather warning covers northern and eastern England, most of the Midlands, Wales and the South West. Slightly improved temperatures are predicted next week.
For what follows that, meteorologists are closely monitoring polar weather patterns.
A study by experts at the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath shows how dramatic meteorological changes above the North Pole can have severe consequences for the weather in the UK.
During an SSW the stratosphere – the layer six to 31 miles above the Earth’s surface – can increase in temperature by up to 50C over a matter of days.
This disturbance can travel down through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface and cause shifts in the jet stream, the fast-moving air currents that cool Europe.
UK experts studied 40 stratospheric warming episodes from the last six decades in the latest study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Exercise is still permitted under England’s third lockdown rules, but joggers had to brave dense fog in Bristol this morning
It was a frosty start in West Bretton, Wakefield, this morning, as swathes of northern England woke up to a yellow weather warning for ice, which stretches across the west and east coasts
Conditions to bring a second ‘Beast from the East’ could ‘Peter out,’ experts have suggested, but Britain is already experiencing a cold snap, with fog lying over the M5 in Worcester earlier today
Large parts of Britain awoke to temperatures below freezing this morning, with highs only reaching 3C as winter takes hold
The Met Office has issued weather warnings for some snow and widespread icy conditions. Up to 3cm (1.2in) of snow could fall on high ground
Snowfall in London wasn’t quite as impressive this morning as yesterday, with just a few flakes settling over one Londoner’s bins
As fog lined the M5, Britain is bracing for a cold snap that could bring snowy conditions similar to the so-called Beast from the East which caused travel chaos back in 2018
Dr Hall said an SSW happens ‘every two years in three’ and one is ‘taking place at the moment’.
In 2018 there was an SSW event two weeks before the ‘Beast from the East’ brought 50cm (20in) snowfalls.
However Dr Hall said only two thirds of SSWs reach the surface and the current one could ‘just peter out’.
He added: ‘The main area of impact is over Siberia where you get intense cold and that then extends westwards toward Europe.
‘We are right on the edge of this and so slight variations can affect if it reaches us.’