Could region be hit by return of Beast from the East?
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Weather experts are asking whether the Beast from the East could return, as similar conditions to those which caused a cold snap three years ago are predicted.
February 2018 saw heavy snow cause travel chaos across the country. In East Anglia rural roads became impassable, drivers got stuck in the tricky conditions and entire villages were cut off.
Now forecasters say a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) could be about to begin, where the temperature of the air in the upper reaches of our atmosphere soars.
Instead of Britain's warmer prevailing westerly winds from the Atlantic, the SSW turns the tables and sucks in a gust of cold air from the east and Siberia.
The storm can take two weeks to develop. In 2018, police in Norfolk dealt with 1,800 incidents in the 72 hours after the blizzards struck on February 27.
Weather agencies believe SSW will take place next week. But while two out of three warming events bring cold weather, one in three has no impact at all.
Dan Holley, a meteorologist with Norfolk-based Weatherquest, said it was too early to predict the outcome.
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"We haven't even had the sudden stratospheric warming event yet, that's due in the next 10 days or so. Then the question is will that influence the troposphere, where our weather takes place.
"If it does, then that may bring an increased risk, but not a guarantee, of cold weather in late January. If the SSW doesn't influence the troposphere then it may have little impact on us. Either way, we'd be looking at late January for any influence from the SSW."
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said the UK would see "harsh frosts" throughout the first week of January.
"Obviously it's very cold and it's going to stay cold through this week," he said.
Cold easterly winds will develop, bringing wintry showers, particularly around eastern parts, while hazardous freezing fog, frost and ice risks will all continue, the Met Office added.