UK weather: Jet stream keeps Britain mild as snow sweeps Europe

The UK is set for clouds and mild temperatures rather than the bone-chilling winds pounding the continent – thanks to the position of the jet stream over Britain.

While countries such as Greece suffer lows of -23C (-9F) this week, the UK will enjoy highs of 12C (54F) by the weekend, with only light rain as opposed to the heavy snow that has hit Austria and Germany

The position of the jet stream – strong winds six miles above the Earth – is currently well to the north of Britain, bringing settled weather; but diving south over continental Europe, bringing sub-zero conditions and snow. 

Met Office graphic shows how the jet stream is keeping Britain relatively warm by acting as a barrier against freezing winds that are sweeping the continent and bringing widespread snow and ice

Met Office graphic shows how the jet stream is keeping Britain relatively warm by acting as a barrier against freezing winds that are sweeping the continent and bringing widespread snow and ice

The jet stream, which is to the north of Britain, is acting like a protective barrier against the fearsome winds bringing frozen hell to Europe

The jet stream, which is to the north of Britain, is acting like a protective barrier against the fearsome winds bringing frozen hell to Europe

Met Office graphics show how the jet stream is keeping Britain relatively warm by acting as a barrier against freezing winds that are sweeping the continent and bringing widespread snow and ice

Zoom out on the LIVE interactive Ventusky map below to see the stark difference in temperatures across Europe – click on the tab labelled temperature to see the changes in air pressure, snow cover or freezing level 

Pictured: The Met Office's predictions for today

Pictured: The Met Office's predictions for today

Pictured: The Met Office's predictions for Friday

Pictured: The Met Office's predictions for Friday

The Met Office’s forecast for the UK this afternoon (left) and how the weather will look across the country tomorrow (right)

Today will be cloudy but dry in the UK, with only a threat of light rain or drizzle, especially for coasts and hills. Southern parts of England are likely to start bright with sunshine, sunny spells also develop later in the North East.

Tonight will be mostly cloudy in the South and far North with a few spots of light rain or drizzle possible. Central and northern areas will be generally dry with clear spells, but through the night, there is a risk of mist and fog.

Tomorrow will be a misty start for some, especially over the hills. Once any mist clears, it will become a dry day with bright or sunny intervals developing in many places. Some patchy rain will move into the North West later on.

The outlook for Saturday is cloudy for many places and it will become windy for all areas of Britain. Southern parts will stay mostly dry, while northern areas will see showers or longer spells of rain. 

Athens, pictured on Tuesday, has been covered in snow as Greece experiences much colder temperatures than the UK

Athens, pictured on Tuesday, has been covered in snow as Greece experiences much colder temperatures than the UK

Athens, pictured on Tuesday, has been covered in snow as Greece experiences much colder temperatures than the UK

A graveyard in Vordernburg, Austria, is covered in snow today as Europe experiences far colder conditions than Britain

A graveyard in Vordernburg, Austria, is covered in snow today as Europe experiences far colder conditions than Britain

A graveyard in Vordernburg, Austria, is covered in snow today as Europe experiences far colder conditions than Britain

A train in Saxony-Anhalt was almost submerged in snow yesterday as the freezing conditions swept across Germany where temperatures as low as -9C are expected

A train in Saxony-Anhalt was almost submerged in snow yesterday as the freezing conditions swept across Germany where temperatures as low as -9C are expected

A train in Saxony-Anhalt was almost submerged in snow yesterday as the freezing conditions swept across Germany where temperatures as low as -9C are expected

Bad day for a bike ride: A bicycle is covered in snow while a child climbs stairs in the background in Ilmenau, central Germany, as Europe's cold weather chaos deepens 

Bad day for a bike ride: A bicycle is covered in snow while a child climbs stairs in the background in Ilmenau, central Germany, as Europe's cold weather chaos deepens 

Bad day for a bike ride: A bicycle is covered in snow while a child climbs stairs in the background in Ilmenau, central Germany, as Europe’s cold weather chaos deepens 

Slow progress: A bus and car near Berchtesgaden, Germany try to make their way along the icy road while a man walks nearby amid a cold snap across central Europe 

Slow progress: A bus and car near Berchtesgaden, Germany try to make their way along the icy road while a man walks nearby amid a cold snap across central Europe 

Slow progress: A bus and car near Berchtesgaden, Germany try to make their way along the icy road while a man walks nearby amid a cold snap across central Europe 

Escape: A man climbs out and abandons his car after it got stuck in snow in Kars, Turkey, with the cold snap in Europe spreading towards the Mediterranean 

Escape: A man climbs out and abandons his car after it got stuck in snow in Kars, Turkey, with the cold snap in Europe spreading towards the Mediterranean 

Escape: A man climbs out and abandons his car after it got stuck in snow in Kars, Turkey, with the cold snap in Europe spreading towards the Mediterranean 

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr leave the Jaeger barracks in Berchtesgaden to remove snow from buildings in downtown Berchtesgaden, Germany

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr leave the Jaeger barracks in Berchtesgaden to remove snow from buildings in downtown Berchtesgaden, Germany

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr leave the Jaeger barracks in Berchtesgaden to remove snow from buildings in downtown Berchtesgaden, Germany

This picture shows an aerial view of the snow covered mountains of the Cedars area in the Lebanese mountains norh of Beirut

This picture shows an aerial view of the snow covered mountains of the Cedars area in the Lebanese mountains norh of Beirut

This picture shows an aerial view of the snow covered mountains of the Cedars area in the Lebanese mountains norh of Beirut

Workers clear snow from the tracks around a classic steam locomotive near Wernigerode, Germany

Workers clear snow from the tracks around a classic steam locomotive near Wernigerode, Germany

Workers clear snow from the tracks around a classic steam locomotive near Wernigerode, Germany

On Sunday, it will remain windy for all, and northern parts will see frequent showers – while there will be sunny spells and scattered showers in the south. 

Although stable weather conditions are on the way over the next fortnight, a sudden stratospheric warming event in the Arctic around Christmas, could bring much colder temperatures by the end of January. 

This is what caused the 2018 Beast from the East – an icy blast of freezing Siberian winds which brought sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow and travel chaos – leading to the chance of the same conditions returning this month. 

Austria could face 10ft of snow in the next few days. The weather has closed more than 1,000 miles of ski slope in the Alps as the cold stretches as far as Greece where temperatures reached as low as -23C in Florina on Tuesday.  

Sudden Stratospheric Warming could see the Beast from the East return

Severe conditions that hit Britain in early 2018 were called a ‘cocktail of weather events’ by the Met Office.

The cold spell dubbed the ‘the Beast from the East’ – which also coincided with the arrival of Storm Emma – was caused by a jump in temperatures high over the Arctic, known as ‘sudden stratospheric warming’.

 

The phenomenon, which in Britain usually leads to cold periods, begins 30 miles into the atmosphere in the high altitude jet stream, which usually flows from west to east, bringing relatively warm and wet air from the Atlantic into the UK. 

A disturbance hits the jetstream, pushing its waves down towards the Arctic and reversing the stream from east to west. As the air is compressed over this region, it begins to warm. 

This leads to high pressure over the North Atlantic, blocking the usual flow of mild air that flows into Britain from the west. 

Instead, colder air from the east is sucked over the British Isles, resulting in colder temperatures. 

 

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