Jul 25

Heatwave breaks with thunderstorms – Met Office

Very hot conditions will continue across central, eastern and southeastern parts of the England until the end of the week, but the heat will trigger intense thunderstorms in some areas.

The heatwave of 2018 will reach a peak for the time being on Thursday and Friday with temperatures likely to break the UK July record, and possibly the all-time UK record somewhere in southeast England. Highs of 35 °C are expected on Thursday and 37 °C on Friday.

Paul Gundersen, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “The heatwave conditions will continue across much of England, with temperatures into the mid to high 30s Celsius in many places from the Midlands eastwards on Thursday and Friday and it’s possible that we could break the all-time UK record of 38.5° C if conditions all come together.

“If you’re looking for somewhere to escape the heat, western and northern areas will have pleasantly warm mid 20s Celsius, although across Northern Ireland and western Scotland this may be accompanied by occasionally cloudy skies.”

The highest temperature recorded so far this year is 33.3 °C at Santon Downham on 23 July. The highest temperature recorded in 2017 was 34.5° C at Heathrow on 21st June. Prior to this, the most recent heatwave prior to this was in July 2015 when temperatures peaked at 36.7 °C at Heathrow on 1 July, a temperature that is currently the July all-time maximum record. The all-time record in the UK is 38.5° C at Faversham on 10 August 2003.

The dry spell has been most prolonged in East Anglia and Southeast England. Most especially much of East Anglia and Cambridgeshire, extending through Essex into London and also around Bournemouth and Southampton.  Parts of the Midlands have also been very dry. The last day of very widespread rainfall for East Anglia and the south-east was 29 May.

The hot and sunny weather is an opportunity for many to enjoy the outdoors, especially during the school holidays.  Amanda Bond from Visit Suffolk said: “With Suffolk having seen some of the highest temperatures this week and with the sunshine set to continue, this gives visitors the perfect excuse to get outdoors and experience what the county has to offer.

“Suffolk is known for its natural beauty, 50 miles of glorious coastline and charming villages and historic towns. Now the schools are out for summer there are many ways to occupy the kids with our fun-filled family visitor attractions such as Africa Alive!, Southwold Pier, West Stow Anglo Saxon Village, RSPB Minsmere and Kentwell Hall, to name a few. Although, sometimes, in a place this rich and beautiful, just being is pleasure enough.”   For more information, visit www.visitsuffolk.com.

Hot weather often brings the risk of showers and thunderstorms and there is a chance of a few of these breaking out over East Anglia, southeast and perhaps central England on Thursday evening. It is Friday when we expect the highest chance of intense thunderstorms across eastern parts of England on Friday before the fresher, conditions finally make their way east across the UK for the weekend.

Gundersen added: “There is the chance of thunderstorms breaking out over some eastern parts of England on Thursday, but it is Friday when we see intense thunderstorms affecting many central and eastern areas.

“Whilst many places will remain dry and hot, the thunderstorms on Friday could lead to torrential downpours in places with a much as 30 mm of rainfall in an hour and 60 mm in 3 hours. Large hail and strong, gusty winds are also likely and combined could lead to difficult driving conditions as a result of spray and sudden flooding. We have issued a Met Office weather warning highlighting the areas most at risk”

A Level 3 heat-health watch warning has been issued for a large part of England, in association with Public Health England. The Heat Health Watch Service is designed to help healthcare professionals manage through periods of extreme temperature.

Hot weather, especially when prolonged, with warm nights, can have effects on people’s health and on certain infrastructure. To aid preparation and awareness before and during a prolonged hot spell, a heatwave plan has been created by Public Health England in association with the Met Office and other partners. It recommends a series of steps to reduce the risks to health from prolonged exposure to severe heat for:

  • The NHS, local authorities, social care, and other public agencies
  • Professionals working with people at risk
  • Individuals, local communities and voluntary groups

Dr Thomas Waite, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health England, said: “Temperatures are likely be high in parts of England this week, which may leave older people, young children and those with long-term conditions, including heart and lung diseases, struggling to adapt to the heat. So keep an eye on friends and family who may be at risk.

“To beat the heat, try to keep out the sun from 11am to 3pm, walk in the shade if you can, apply sunscreen and wear a hat if you have to go out in the heat. Also try to carry water with you when travelling.”

Apr 09

MetService issues Warnings, Watches and Outlooks for severe weather over New Zealand

A complex low about to cross central New Zealand will spare no one from the cold air it will drag up from the Southern Ocean.

“On the back of a warmer than average summer this low will guarantee a noticeable decrease in temperature for all New Zealand, if not an unusually early dump of snow,” said April Clark MetService Meteorologist.

Severe Weather Watches and Warnings associated with this front have now been issued. Wind gusts of up to 140km/h and significant snow down to 400 metres is forecast over parts of the country from late this evening. The wind and snow are likely to cause disruption on roads and damage to power lines and unsecured structures. People are encouraged to check the latest watches and warnings to see whether they are likely to be affected when making plans into tomorrow. You can find all this information here http://info.metraweather.com/e/60812/AllWarnings/fsfx49/687902982.

“Southerlies strengthen over the South Island late today signalling the quick descent into the sub-Antarctic air mass,” Clark said. “This cold air paired with persistent rain developing over the mid to upper South Island tonight means snow levels are expected lower to 400 metres for inland areas of the South Island by early Tuesday morning,” she continued.

The largest snow accumulations are expected over east of the South Island (away from the coast) on Wednesday, though snow showers could penetrate as low as 300 metres south of Otago. Further north, the central North Island is forecast see snow down to 700 metres by Wednesday as the cold air forces north with the southerly change.

Thunderstorms with damaging gusts of up to 110km/h are forecast ahead of the low for many regions north of Buller from late tonight and into Tuesday. Areas under a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms are highlighted here http://info.metraweather.com/e/60812/STSWatch/fsfx4c/687902982.

Behind the low, strong southerly winds will also affect several regions including Auckland which will see the strong, cold turn during Tuesday evening. “Aucklanders see a windy Tuesday, with the worst of the wind expected after dark” Clark commented.

“As the low moves away to the east on Wednesday conditions are expected to ease and skies clear in the south. This means perfect condition for sub-zero temperatures for inland areas, this could be the hardest frost for inland South Island so far this year” warned Clark.

Once this system exits to the east of the country, another weather system is signalled for the latter part of the working week, bringing further unsettled weather.

Warnings are about taking action when severe weather is imminent or is occurring. They are issued only when required.
Recommendation: ACT 

Watches are about being alert when severe weather is possible, but not sufficiently imminent or certain for a Warning to be issued. They are issued only when required.
Recommendation: BE READY 

Outlooks are about looking ahead, providing advance information on possible future Watches and/or Warnings. They are issued routinely once or twice a day.
Recommendation: PLAN 

Jan 02

Storm Eleanor heads for the UK

MET Office

The start of 2018 will be unsettled with low-pressure systems continuing to move across the UK from the Atlantic, bringing frequently wet and windy weather to the UK.

The fifth named storm of the season has been named as a developing low pressure system, Storm Eleanor, is forecast to bring gusts of up to 80 mph to parts of the UK on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Paul Gundersen, Met Office Chief Forecaster, said: “The unsettled theme continues throughout this week, with further spells of rain moving across the UK from the west as many return to work on Tuesday, and there will again be some snow over the high ground in Scotland.

“The wind will pick up again later on Tuesday and Wednesday as developing Storm Eleanor heads towards the UK and Ireland. Storm Eleanor will bring a very windy spell to the UK on Tuesday night and Wednesday with gales or severe gales in places and National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued as there is the potential for some travel disruption, and high waves throwing beach material on to sea fronts, roads and coastal properties, along western and southern coasts.”

Storm Eleanor is heading across the Atlantic (Image: www.magicseaweed.com)

Carol Holt, flood duty manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Unsettled weather with strong winds and at times large waves, combined with high tides, could lead to some coastal flooding from Tuesday until Thursday.

“Our frontline teams are on the ground checking defences and may close coastal flood gates this week. We urge people to stay safe on the coast – take extreme care on coastal paths and promenades, and don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger trying to take ‘storm selfies’.  If you’re travelling, please check your route before setting off and don’t drive through flood water.

“We will issue flood alerts and warnings as necessary, so please check www.gov.uk/flood for the latest advice or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.”

Unsettled weather will continue through the rest of the week with further bouts of wet and windy weather interspersed with brighter, showery periods. There may be snow at times across northern areas, especially Scotland, as well as ice at night between the wet spells.

Looking ahead to the weekend Deputy Chief Forecaster Dan Harris added: “Later in the week and over the weekend there are signs of a trend to colder conditions, especially in the north, with clearer skies for many and a return of the risk of frost, ice and wintry showers. It could remain more unsettled in the south. The details of the forecast later this week and into the weekend are extremely uncertain at this stage, so my advice is to keep up to date with the latest forecasts as confidence will increase later in the week.”

Whatever weather we experience over the next few days you can make sure that you and those around you are prepared for winter weather and can cope with its impacts. You’ll always find the most up to date information on our forecast pages, Twitter and Facebook, as well as our mobile app.

Oct 19

Met Office: Storm Brian to arrive this weekend


An intense low-pressure system that is forecast to affect southern Britain on Saturday has been named as Storm Brian by Met Éireann.

The Met Office’s Irish partner took the decision earlier today to issue an Orange warning for some parts of Ireland on Saturday because of expected impacts across the Irish Republic. Under the collaboration between the Met Office and Met Éireann a storm will be named when it has the potential to cause an amber/orange or red warning.

Image: Met Éireann

Today the Met Office updated their Yellow wind warning for strong southwesterly winds on Saturday from 4am covering parts of southern and western England and South and West Wales. Currently the Met Office has no plans to issue an Amber wind warning for any part of the UK, but the situation will be under continual review.

Chief Forecaster Dan Suri said: “Storm Brian is expected to bring strong winds to southern and western areas early on Saturday morning. The first and most significant land-based impacts will be in the southwest of Ireland, hence the Amber warning from Met Éireann. At the moment, we don’t expect the same level of impacts for the UK.

“As we go through Saturday morning and early afternoon the strong southwesterly winds affecting the South West will transfer east and slowly change direction as they will become westerly towards the end of the warning period.

“Gusts exceeding 50 mph are expected widely within the warning area, with gusts of around 70 mph along exposed coastal areas. These are expected to coincide with high tides, leading to locally dangerous conditions in coastal parts.”

Before it makes landfall, the system is undergoing explosive cyclogenesis far out in the Atlantic. However, by the time it reaches Britain and Ireland this phase is expected to be complete and it will be a mature, deep low, bringing strong winds with the potential to affect travel over the weekend. The Met Office and Met Éireann will continue to review the situation ahead of the system’s arrival.

As the system is expected to bring strong gusts during Saturday, there is the obvious potential of risk to travellers. RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: “Drivers encountering high winds are advised to reduce their speed, ensure they hold the steering wheel firmly and be prepared for sudden gusts, debris and even fallen branches in the road.  Allow plenty of room between your vehicle and the next and take extra care when overtaking cyclists, motorcyclists and lorries as they are susceptible to being blown around easily by side winds.  Be extra cautious when driving on exposed roads, high ground and across bridges where again sudden gusts can blow you off course.

“When you reach your destination consider parking safely avoiding trees, overhanging telephone wires and things which could represent a falling danger.”

The strongest winds in coastal areas, gusting up to 70mph, are expected to coincide with high tides, leading to potentially dangerous conditions for local coastal communities.

Alison Baptiste, National flood duty manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Strong winds are expected across southern England on Friday night and into Saturday. Some coastal floodingis possible along the south and south-west coasts of England, especially around the times of high tide, with large waves, spray and some overtopping of coastal defences.

“We urge people to stay safe along the coast and warn against putting yourself in unnecessary danger by taking ‘storm selfies’ or driving through flood water – just 30cm is enough to move your car. Environment Agency teams are on the ground checking defences and taking precautionary measures such as closing tidal gates.

“We’re working with partners including the Met Office and local authorities to monitor the situation and are ready to respond as necessary.Where necessary we will issue flood warnings and alerts. You can check whether you’re affected at www.gov.uk/flood.”

Under the guidelines of the storm naming collaboration, an Amber wind warning triggers the naming process. Storm Brian will be the second named storm of the season, following Aileen which affected parts of the UK on 12–13 September 2017.

The system is typical for the time of year and it has developed mainly as a result of a contrast in temperatures either side of the jet stream, with cooler temperatures to the north and warm temperatures to the south. Ex-Ophelia which affected Ireland and Britain on Monday and Tuesday had a different origin as it developed from a hurricane in the tropical Atlantic. Therefore, Ophelia’s original name was continued rather than using the next predetermined name from the UK and Ireland’s storm-naming process.

Sep 12

Met Office: Storm Aileen has officially been named

Storm Aileen is the first storm to be named since this seasons names were released last week and it will bring strong winds to central parts of the UK.

A deepening area of low pressure will bring very strong winds across much of England and Wales during Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. An Amber National Severe Weather Warningis in place, warning of gusts of 55-65 mph in particular across parts of Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.  Gusts up to around 75mph gusts could also be possible in exposed locations such as the coast and hills in these areas.

A Yellow weather warning for rain is also in place for parts of Northern Ireland, Northern England and Southern Scotland which warns of 30-40mm of rain falling within 6-9 hours which could cause some disruption.

Chief forecaster Frank Saunders said: “Storm Aileen is expected to bring strong winds of up to 75mph to a central segment of the UK and an Amber weather warning has been issued. As well as the strong winds, there will be some heavy rain pushing eastwards overnight which could see accumulations of 30-40mm. The low pressure system that is bringing these strong winds will move fairly swiftly from west to east over the UK and although there will still be some disruption through Wednesday morning, the winds will ease by the afternoon leaving a day of blustery showers.”

Richard Leonard, road safety spokesperson at Highways England, said: “We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys, with strong winds expected from Tuesday evening until Wednesday morning. In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down and avoid using exposed sections of road if possible.”

There has been some speculation that this weather is being driven by the severe weather in the Caribbean and US. There is no such connection. Met Office Deputy Meteorologist Chris Tubbs said: “There are no links between the very strong winds we expect to see here in the UK and the hurricanes affecting the United States and the Caribbean at present. This system originated well north in the Atlantic Ocean, independent of the current Caribbean hurricanes”.

As Storm Aileen clears out eastwards into the North Sea, the UK will be left with cool showery conditions through the end of the week and into the weekend. The showers will still be blustery on Thursday with the winds easing as we get closer to the weekend. Within the showers there will be some periods of brightness although it will still feel cool across the whole of the UK with top temperatures only reaching 18-19°C

Oct 31

2016: Another low year for declining Arctic sea ice -Met Office


Arctic sea ice extent for September 2016 was 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Measurements of the extent of summer Arctic sea ice reveal that 2016 has been the joint second lowest year on record.

Every September sea ice in the Arctic reaches a minimum extent after retreating during the northern hemisphere summer. This September the latest figures reveal that the minimum extent is short of an absolute record, but adds to the series that the last 10 years have witnessed the lowest extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic ever recorded.

The extent of summer Arctic sea ice has decreased by over 13% per decade since satellite records began in 1979, relative to the 1981-2010 average of 6.38 million square km.

This year’s figure of 4.14 million square km, released by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is the joint-second lowest on record since satellite monitoring began in 1979, virtually identical to the 4.15 million square km recorded in 2007. The lowest extent of summer Arctic sea ice, since 1979, was recorded in 2012, with a figure of 3.39 million square km.

Dr Ed Blockley leads the Met Office Polar Climate Group. Commenting on today’s figures he said: “It is highly noteworthy that the 10 years with the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice have all been within the last 10 years. Despite a record low winter ice extent in March, this year’s figure isn’t an absolute record. But this shouldn’t detract from the fact there has been a substantial decline in the extent of Arctic sea ice over the last few decades.

“The current rate of loss of Arctic summer sea ice of 13% per decade is equivalent to an annual loss greater than the size of Scotland.”

Sea ice is an important component of the climate system because it regulates the transfer of heat and energy between the atmosphere and the ocean.

Ed Blockley added: “Being whiter than the sea surface, particularly so when covered by snow, sea ice reflects more of the Sun’s rays back into space than does the surrounding ocean. It therefore plays a key role in regulating the amount of the Sun’s energy absorbed by the Earth.

“There is actually a positive feedback system: less ice means more of the Sun’s energy is absorbed which in turn further reduces the extent of ice through melting.”

Mar 23

Met Office involved in research to revolutionise pollen forecasting


A team of researchers has been awarded a three-year grant by the National Environment Research Council (NERC) to improve pollen forecasts

A research team from the Met Office and the Universities of Bangor, Aberystwyth, Exeterand Worcester is giving hope to thousands of people in the UK who suffer from spring and summer allergies. The team of researchers has been awarded a three-year grant worth £1.2m by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) to improve pollen forecasts using molecular genetics. It is envisaged that the new research will give more precise information to allergy sufferers about when and which species of grass pollens will affect them.

There is currently no easy way of distinguishing between the 150 species of grass, however understanding which species of grass pollens are in the air in high quantities at a particular time will allow people with hay fever and asthma to better manage their allergies and medication.

The team are aiming to revolutionise pollen forecasts by using DNA sequencing and the UK plant database at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Dr Rachel McInnes, Senior Climate Impacts Scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre said: “Pollen from different grass species cannot be distinguished with current pollen monitoring techniques using optical microscopes. This new approach will extract DNA from pollen grains captured by our observing sites, and read the unique DNA ‘barcode’ to identify the individual species of grass. We can then study which species of grass are linked to the most severe health impacts to allergy sufferers, for example asthma attacks.”

There are around 30 different types of pollen that cause hay fever and it is possible to be allergic to more than one type. Most people with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen, which is most common in late spring and early summer. The Met Office manages the only pollen count monitoring network in the UK and uses the information, weather data and expertise from organisations such as the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit and PollenUK to produce forecasts that help support allergy and hay fever sufferers through the most difficult time of the year.

Current pollen forecasts can be found on the Met Office website from 23 March 2016 until the autumn.