Beast From The East 2... Everything you need to know to stay safe!

Posted on March 04 2023

With rumours circulating about snow hitting the UK, similar to the 2018 "Beast from the East", we stocked up on ridiculous amounts of brown rock salt and white rock salt, both of which are ideal for winter conditions. In 2018, the "Beast from the East" caused chaos across the country with freezing temperatures, huge snow drifts and disruptive snowfall. Temperatures dropped to −14.2C in Faversham, Kent, and 57 cm of snow was reported in Gloucestershire.

One reason for the 2018 Beast from the East was the onset of a meteorological phenomenon known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW). A few weeks ago, on February 16th, another Sudden Stratospheric Warming event occurred high up in the atmosphere. SSW events happen regularly, but some are more severe than others.

So, what is Sudden Stratospheric Warming? It is an event that takes place high up in the atmosphere, around 30 km above the Earth's surface, in the stratosphere. Strong winds circulate around the pole from west to east, but sometimes these winds slow down and in severe cases, they can even reverse. This falling air can disrupt the jet stream, the system that provides the UK and western Europe with mild southwesterlies in winter. The result is a blocked weather pattern, a large area of high pressure, which can impact the wind direction we see in the UK and, consequently, the weather type.

For the past few weeks, high pressure has dominated the weather in the UK, leading to exceptionally dry conditions, making February the driest for 30 years. The high pressure system is set to move to southern Iceland, allowing cold northerly winds from the Arctic to flood southwards. By Tuesday next week, the whole of the UK will experience a cold wave with the return of overnight frost. From Sunday evening, sleet and snow showers will begin to pepper the northern isles and north Scotland before pushing southwards through Monday and into Tuesday. By Tuesday, hail, sleet and snow showers will be mostly confined to northern and eastern areas of England, with some affecting Northern Ireland, Wales and Southwest England too.

However, with showers, they are hit and miss, so not all will see them, but where they do line up, some accumulations are possible. There is scope for more persistent snow on Monday afternoon into Tuesday and gale force northerly winds as a polar low drives in more moisture from the North Sea, although the jury is still out on this. The Met Office is likely to issue weather warnings for these wintry hazards.

From Wednesday and Thursday next week, there is a shift to something milder, but this could bring a more persistent area of snow on its leading edge across the country. At the time of writing, there is a 20% chance of more disruptive snow occurring next week, although there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding this.

In summary, there will be a cold spell with some snow showers at first and the potential for something more noteworthy on Wednesday/Thursday, but it doesn't currently seem like a bitter cold easterly flow will set up. As we move through March, the sun gains more strength every day, so the colder snowy weather should become less likely. Be prepared for the upcoming cold spell and check out our brown rock salt and white rock salt, which are both perfect for winter conditions.