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?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power