Beast from the East Review – Winter 2018

The Beast is no more at least in this part of the country. It was finally slain by Emma in the early hours of the 3rd March in Watford.

At the beginning of this cold spell of weather I thought it would last longer into next week. But a potent low pressure which came across the Atlantic near the Azores and was named Emma by the Portuguese. This storm killed the beast from the east, by throwing up moisture plus slightly milder air into the easterly flow.

I have been running a blog post for the last week about this epic weather event which can be found here, mainly about my local area of Watford.

The rest of this article is about this weather event, how it formed, the records that fell. I would rate this cold spell in my top 5 interesting weather events that I have experienced. This is all from a weather enthusiasts point of view. Especially as there has been some deaths related to this weather event.

The beginnings

A sudden stratospheric warming occurred in middle of February up in the north pole which looks like the precursor to this cold spell. The warming at 850 hpa which is near the troposphere part of the atmosphere had a sudden rapid warming over a few days. The temperature up there is usually around -50c / -70c but it shot up to -20c, this works its way down the atmosphere in a few days. Near the same time as we got easterly winds, at ground level in the north pole temperatures on the ground got up to 5c, and was above 0c for 10 days as the Arctic Oscillation had changed. The north pole is in complete darkness till mid March so anytime it gets above 0c it would be to do with the wind change bring up mild air.

Further down the line this Sudden Stratospheric Warming reversed the winds in the northern hemisphere over Europe. High pressure built up over Scandinavia up to 1050 mb, a strong high pressure at any time of the year. Cold air flooded out of the arctic around the high pressure from Siberia all the way to the UK as the warm air was being pumped up into the arctic.

From the chart below from meteociel.fr you can see the cold air flooding across Europe, its very unusual to see the -20c (850Hpa) close to our shores, it has only happened a few times in the last 100 years and in Shetland. In the next few days we will find out the lowest 850hpa to reach our shores, I would thing this was somewhere in Norfolk.

Beast from the east is leaving the station

The Cold

Lowest temperature was in Faversham, Kent with -14.2c on 28th. From the 28 February and 1 March 2018 the temperatures remained below freezing nearly everywhere in the UK. On March 1st most parts of England & Wales remained below -2c for 24 hours.

The Snow

On the 28th of February a maximum of 49cm of snow fell at St Athan, South Glamorgan.

Red warnings

Two rare red warning were issued by the Met Office. One for the snow streamer in Scotland east coast which deposited 40cm+ snow on the 28th.

The second for the weather front that came up from Storm Emma in the west country / Wales and dumped 50cm+ snow in 10 hours.

Records

These are the current records that I know about for this event, more will be added when all the official weather stations have submitted their data.

  • Coldest March 1st spring day since records began across the UK of -5.2c
  • Lowest maximum temperature (England & Wales) of -4.7c for March in 24 hour period at Tredegar in south Wales
  • lowest March daily maximum in England was broken on 2nd March at Little Rissington, Gloucestershire with -3.7c

Summary

This was probably a 1 in 30 year event for the UK, it was extreme, bruital and amazing. As mentioned before it will go down in my top 5, epic weather events in my lifetime that I have experienced. I have been recording the weather since I was 11 till now, 36 years later.

Photos

Here are some photos I took during the Beast from the East, more can be found on the Flickr link below. Thanks for reading, sign up to my newsletter here

Snow fall in Cassiobury Park

Snow fall in Cassiobury Park

Beast from the East photos

Snow fall at Cassiobury Park

Beast from the East photos

Canal freezing over

Beast from the East photos

Snow fall near the Grove Hotel

Beast from the East photos

Snow storm during the sunset

Beast from the East photos

Chickens enjoying the snow

Links

Met Office – https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/2018
Met Office Review – https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/interesting/february2018-snow
Weather Outlook – https://www.theweatheroutlook.com
Weather Online – http://www.weatheronline.co.uk
Metociel.fr – http://www.meteociel.fr/modeles/
Photographs – https://www.flickr.com/photos/alalchan/albums/72157691083106122

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