The UK is bracing itself for the next bout of bad weather as gale force winds continue to buffet parts of the country as colder weather arrives.
Forecasters are predicting freezing low temperatures of -6C in parts of Scotland on Monday, with the Met Office issuing yellow, “be aware”, warnings for snow across Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England over the weekend.
But the wintery weather is not too unusual for this time of year a Met Office spokesperson told The Independent, continuing that the weather pattern – dubbed Storm Rachel – was a “standard winter storm” that would blow itself out by the end of today.
Where did it start?
Triggered by a deepening low pressure system the storm originated off the eastern side of north America, gathering steam as it moved across the Atlantic interacting with jet streams, causing it to deepen further as it approached the UK, reaching our western shores early last night.
Despite some strong winds, the weather is only a “mid-latitude storm” and definitely not a cyclone, the Met spokesperson said.
What conditions has it caused?
Cairngorms and Ben Nevis have both reported gale-force gusts over 115mph today, while Wales has seen gusts of 96mph at Capel Curig (at 216m) and England’s Dunn Fell recorded wind speeds over 100mph, according to the UK Weather Channel.
But while confirming these wind speeds a Met spokesperson stressed that although strong, these gusts were to be expected in high and exposed locations and were not necessarily indicative of wind strengths over the entire country.
The winds (and Storm Rachel) are expected to move north over the tip of Scotland later this evening and take the gusts with them, but a new air movement will see winds moving south.
The Met spokesperson explained: “The UK sits on the cusp of the cold polar air to the north and warmer southern air, but – put simply – depending which direction the air is moving from on a wide atmospheric scale greatly affects our weather. Generally we pull air in from the north-west, giving us colder, blustery winter weather around this time of year.”
UK winter weather
UK winter weather
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Cars make their way through the snow in the Loxley area of Sheffield
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A cyclist makes his way through a blizzard in Durham
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Heavy snow falls on the A690 into Durham
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Picture of snow taken through a window of a plane stuck at Manchester Airport
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A woman walks in heavy snow in the Loxley area of Sheffield
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Heavy snow in the Loxley area of Sheffield
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A snow covered Durham Cathedral
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Snow covered graves at St Joseph's Church in west Belfast, as an orange weather alert is announced in Northern Ireland
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Sheep in snow, in the Glens of Antrim, as an orange weather alert is announced in Northern Ireland
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Snow Blizzards on the A9 road near Blackford, Perthshire as snow blizzards sweep across the country
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A cyclist on Dumbarton Road in Stirling during a snow blizzard
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A dog walker walks through the Kings Knot area below Stirling Castle during a snow blizzard
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Vehicles driving down Dumbarton Road in Stirling during a snow blizzard
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Scotrail train travels through snow covered country side near Lenzie, Scotland
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A man digs his car out of the snow near Shaw, northern England
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A dog walker in the snow on the Pennine hilltops near Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales, as many parts of the UK were on snow alert with wintry showers threatening to disrupt travel
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A snow plough on the A93 near Guildtown, as snow brings fresh disruption to parts of the UK
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Andrew Millington (left) and Stephen Peacock walk near the Spittal of Glenshee as snow brings fresh disruption to parts of the UK
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Snow covers the A68 near Corbridge in Northumberland, as many parts of the UK were on snow alert with wintry showers threatening to disrupt travel
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A car makes its way through snowfall in Gortin near Omagh, as many parts of the UK were on snow alert with wintry showers threatening to disrupt travel
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Sleaford Lincolnshire in the snow Boxing Day 2014
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Snow at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport, which closed temporarily on Friday night
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Maisy Byrne, aged nine, (left) and sister Lulu Byrne, aged seven, have fun as snow falls on Boxing Day in Gateacre, Liverpool
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A decorative snowman surrounded by real snow outside a house in Eccleston Park, near Prescot, Merseyside
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Maisy Byrne, 9, left, and sister Lulu Byrne, 7, have fun as snow falls in Gateacre, Liverpool
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Snowfall in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire on Boxing Day
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A man pushing a motorcycle through snow in Newtown Linford, Leicestershire on Boxing Day
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On the M6 near Sandbach
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Snow swirling around the grounds of Lichfield Cathedral on Boxing Day
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Referee Mark Clattenburg during the Premier League football match between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in the Midlands
The winds will move south to northern England, Northern Ireland and Wales – bringing with them heavy rain turning to snow as temperatures drop overnight.
“It will get colder across the UK, with Saturday to Sunday seeing temperatures drop to -5 or -6C in some places. Monday night will be even colder with -6C expected in Braemar, in Aberdeen.”
But could we see some thundersnow, and what is it?
A thundersnow is the same as a thunderstorm, except snow falls instead of rain. It occurs when the atmosphere is unstable and the layer of air closest to the ground is cold enough to create snow but still warmer than the air above it.
Read more: Warnings issued for snow, ice, gales and flooding
Snow, ice and 70mph gale force winds expected
Severe storms leave thousands without power
Glasgow experienced a thundersnow in February 2013 but the BBC said there is a chance we might see similar conditions again over the coming weekend.
If the conditions are right the experience can be beautiful, as the lightning reflected by the snow appears much brighter than when in a ‘normal’ electrical storm.Reuse content