Lengthy cold snap 'due to change in wind'

A "dramatic" shift in the UK weather pattern this winter has brought an unusually prolonged freezing spell, according to forecasters.

Britain's prevailing wind generally brings weather from the west, but for the last few weeks the wind has blown from the north and east.

This has led to snowy conditions and sub-zero temperatures from the Arctic, Scandinavia and Siberia, which are predicted to continue for at least a week.

Brendan Jones, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It has been one of the lengthiest cold spells we've had for quite a while, since 1995-96.

"It's purely because of the wind direction across the UK.

"The prevailing wind that our weather comes from is usually from the south-west and west and that means the weather usually comes from the Atlantic.

"We do get cold spells every winter but, because the weather tends to come from the west, winters are usually mild and wet with occasional cold spells.

"For the last three weeks, since mid-December, winds have come in from the north and east and everywhere in between.

"It has been the complete opposite of what usually happens.

"The wind has either been coming from the Arctic or from Scandinavia and parts of Siberia - all the cold places.

"Our source of warmer and milder weather has been completely cut off."

Mr Jones said the flow of air was going from east to west across the Atlantic, which meant parts of eastern Canada were "abnormally warm" at the moment.

"It's a big dramatic shift in the global weather patterns," he added.

MeteoGroup senior meteorologist Stephen Davenport said the very cold weather showed "no sign of relenting" for at least a week to 10 days.

"This is stretching the limits of short- to medium-term forecasting but so entrenched is this cold weather pattern that it seems only a major upheaval in the atmosphere will bring a return to something milder," he said.

"Should conditions continue in a similar vein then by March we might - might - just be looking back at one of the coldest winters of the last 100 years."

More freezing temperatures and snow are forecast to cause problems over the coming days, both in the north and south of Britain.

Mr Davenport said: "Heavy snow showers or more widespread snow will continue to move across northern and eastern areas of Britain, bringing further accumulations of several centimetres in places and causing notable disruptions to transportation.

"And the highly populated south is likely to see snow that will at times be widespread, persistent and severe enough to bring significant or even major difficulties to infrastructures, particularly transport."

Snow of 2in-4in (5cm-10cm) depths will be lying on the ground over "wide areas" by Friday at the latest, according to Mr Davenport.

In a few places, there could be 6in or 8in (15cm or 20cm) of snow, he added.

Forecasters said temperatures will stay below freezing at night for the next week, with daytime temperatures "struggling" to get above freezing across most of the UK.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'