AN early weather warning has been issued across the UK as experts forecast months of heavy show in what is expected to be the worst winter in half-a-century.
A combination of freak conditions including the most powerful El Nino on record and changes in air pressure over the Arctic are set to cause contribute to the icy conditions.
The forecast shows snow is expected to start falling in Yorkshire in December and continue until March, although the earliest snowfall could arrive by early November.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said the first flakes of snow could arrive in just three weeks’ time.
He said: “It is likely to turn significantly colder from mid October onwards.
“This is likely to bring the first significant snow of winter above higher ground in parts of Scotland and potentially to some well-elevated parts of Northern Ireland.
“Some potentially wintry showers could develop in some other parts of the country during the evening or overnight when temperatures will dip to some quite chilly values with the strong influence of some cool northerly winds.
“The cold winds will allow it to be more settled, but during some periods of showers or unsettled weather we could see some wintry showers developing in places, particularly in some rural parts of the country.
“Some much lower levels of the country could see some very early wintry showers or their first flakes of snow during the latter part of October and into November.”
The Met Office is predicting above-average winter precipitation this year meaning heavy snow is on the way if the cold does set in as feared.
Its three-month outlook states: “For October-November-December precipitation is more likely to above-average than below-average.
“The probability that UK precipitation for October-November-December will fall into the driest of our five categories is 15 per cent and the probability that it will fall into the wettest of our five categories is 35 per cent.”
EARLY WINTER MIGRATION
The Met Office has also reacted to the early arrival of a migrating Bewick’s swan from Russia.
The swan arrived at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire on Sunday 11 October, the earliest date since records began at the site in 1963.
It is thought low temperatures, snowfall and north-easterly winds in Russia have encouraged Bewick’s swans to start their westwards migration through Europe early this year. The swans have also been spotted on lakes in the Netherlands.
WWT studies have shown that the weather is a major influence on when Bewick’s swans migrate from Russia, with the wind direction being a particularly crucial factor.
Unsually cold weather has developed over a large part of continental Europe and is likely to persist through this week with temperatures around 5-10 degrees below average. Daytime temperatures in Russia on Monday were around 3-4C which is more like the average nighttime temperature for this time of year.
SOME OF THE UK’S WORST WINTERS:
1933: one of worst blizzards to ever hit the British Isles saw 48 hours of continuous snowfall.
1952: high death toll due to London smog.
1836: huge blizzard and strong winds hit south, the Thames flooded and eight people were killed in an avalanche in Sussex.
1927: blizzard began on Christmas Day in the Midlands and Wales, resulting in some of heaviest snowfalls of 20th Century
1979: coldest winter since ‘big freeze’ of 1962-63.
1962-63: ‘Big Freeze’ saw Thames freeze for first time since 1880 and Sheffield have 4ft of snow. It remains one of the coldest winters on record in the UK, with the coldest weather for 200 years and a 36-hour blizzard causing heavy drifting snow in most parts of the country.
1947: harsh winter weather across northern Europe from January to March with heavy snow.
1739-40: one of most severe winters in British history as part of so-called little ice age which lasted from 1350 to 1850.
1683–84: The Great Frost of 1683–84 is worst frost recorded in England with Thames freezing for two months solid.
1684: coldest winter in the English instrumental record.