Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Britain braced for ‘thundersnow’ this week in -10C Arctic cold snap

LONDON: It may feel mild at the moment but approaching “thundersnow” and blizzards could put that to an end. An Arctic cold snap swooping in from the north has caused the Met Office to issue yellow warnings for wind and snow for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North West from Wednesday. They are likely to include Wales and eastern England by Thursday and into Friday, with showers expected to bring 2cm to 5cm of snow at lower levels and up to 20cm on the ground 200m above sea level. Temperatures are likely to hover between 2C and 5C in the day time, but Met Office meteorologist Emma Sharples warns that it could get a whole lot colder – down to minus 10C in some places. She said, “We are looking at low single figures, 2C to 5C by day, and then overnight it will vary across the country. “But where there is snow lying it could be heading towards double minus figures, minus 8c or minus 10C, especially in towns and cities, and probably in the north of England and Scotland.” It’s all down to cold air that originates over Arctic Canada, she explained. “We could get some blizzard-type conditions, especially at height,” she warned, adding that ‘thundersnow’ was also possible.

Thundersnow is the snappily named phenomenon of a thunderstorm’s rain falling as snow. Sharples says it’s entirely possible: “All that really needs is for thunder to happen at the same time as the snow. “So where you get very active or vigorous showers – which is what we are going to see… then we could well get some thunder as well. “It is definitely possible.” But most of us will be looking at less exciting snow flurries, falling as showers over lower levels and unlikely to build up too much. That doesn’t mean it won’t be chaos though. “Even a centimetre of snow in this country can obviously cause some disruption,” Sharples said, adding that there could be “some showers inland, but they are likely to be short-lived”. The Met Office said: “Lightning may accompany the heaviest showers, with potential disruption to power supplies as a consequence.” On Wednesday and Thursday, wind gusts of up to 55mph are expected in exposed coastal areas and on hills.

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