UK weather – Eight inches of snow set to fall and freezing rain to lash country in two-day ice blast
UP to eight inches of snow is expected to fall and freezing rain is set to batter parts of Britain during a two-day polar ice blast.
Snow and ice warnings have been issued across northern England and Scotland by the Met Office – bringing torrential rain and icy showers.
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Widespread snowfall of up to four inches (2cm) is forecast in areas at least 200m (650ft) above sea level, and up to two inches could fall at lower levels.
Up to 20cm (eight inches) of snow could fall on high ground.
The weather warnings came into force at 8am and will remain in place until 9pm tomorrow.
Significant travel disruption is possible and there is the possibility of power cuts, the Met Office warns.
The weather warning states: "An area of rain pushing north-eastwards is expected to turn snow in places as it encounters colder air across Scotland and parts of northern England.
"At first the main hazard may be of rain falling onto frozen surfaces leading to ice, especially on higher level routes.
"However snow becomes more likely later Wednesday and at least for a time on Thursday.
"Heavier snowfall is more likely above 100m in Scotland and above 200m in England, where 5-10cm of snow may accumulate, possibly 20cm on highest routes.
"At lower levels, 2-5cm of snow may accumulate in places, but the situation remains finely balanced, with the possibility that most lower-lying areas in northern England see rain or sleet rather than snow."
It comes as temperatures plunged to lows of -3C in the northern England and Scotland overnight.
BBC forecaster Stav Danaos said: "As that rain starts to push eastwards into that cold air it falls on freezing surfaces, we could see an ice risk in north-west England, western Scotland for a while.
"It'll slowly push eastwards, perhaps with some snow developing over the Pennines and also the hills of Scotland."
As well as the heavy snowfall, Northern Ireland will be battered with torrential rain.
The warnings come as pictures showed huge waves crashing against Tynemouth pier in North Tyneside yesterday afternoon.
And two brave swimmers even took on the choppy waters as they went in for a dip.
Meteorologists have confirmed a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event is happening over the Arctic, which is what happened before the Beast from the East three years ago.
When this happens the warming can affect the jet stream which regulates much of the weather in the UK.
It if it heavily disrupted, or even reversed, it means Brits could be hit with the same chilly conditions currently north of Scandinavia.
'BEAST FROM THE EAST'
The Met Office's long-range forecast predicts "significant snowfall on the boundary between milder and colder air masses" as we go into February.
The last Siberian weather front to be given the nickname hit in 2018 when snow blanketed large parts of Britain and temperatures plummeted to -10C.
Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said: "The stratosphere above the North Pole has warmed, it started its process on the 4th of January and has been rapidly warming over the last few days."
Experts say this could mean the country is covered in snow with daytime temperatures plummeting to -5C by the end of the month and into February.
Simon Lee, an atmospheric science and weather forecasting researcher at the University of Reading, told The Mirror: "A weakening of the jet stream often occurs after an SSW, meaning the UK is now more prone to outbreaks of colder weather from the north and east than it was before.
"A weakened polar vortex can last for up to two months, so there is an increased likelihood of colder, drier weather occurring in Europe sometime in the next 4-6 weeks due to weaker Atlantic westerly winds."
John Hammond from Weathertrending told The Sun Online: "So while last winter was very mild, there are signs that this winter will be quite different."
Mr Hammond said: "There are signs that the stratosphere is beginning to ‘misbehave’ again this winter, which may have unpredictable and extreme impacts on our weather later on this winter."
He warned that not every warming event leads to a Beast from the East but if it did then "the likelihood of a very cold spell of easterly winds would increase markedly".
He said: "With this would come the chance of severe snowfall and extreme cold – last seen after the Sudden Stratospheric Warming event in late winter 2018."
As well as the Beast from the East, meteorologists are also tracking a La Nina in the Pacific, which could bring wet and stormy weather as it increases the UK's chances of westerly winds.
Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Bath and Exeter have predicted an imminent sudden stratospheric warming over the North Pole, bringing severe consequences for jet stream and weather in the UK.
Last week temperatures fell to -15C in some spots, with yellow warnings issued for most of the country by the Met Office.
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