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‘Beast from the East’: What Met Office says about chances of snow hitting UK

Wet but warmer than average November kept ice at bay but temperatures now set to plummet in earnest

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Friday 02 December 2022 10:56 GMT
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The Met Office has responded to claims that a “Beast from the East” is set to bring a snowy start to December.

But those hoping for a sprinkling of the white stuff look set to be disappointed as the weather service said reports that Britons should brace for four inches (10cm) of snow were unlikely, with only a “chance of dusting on Scotland mountains”.

A meteorologist from British Weather Services had told The Daily Express in late November that a “cold flow in from the east” indicated that the “beast is opening its eyes” bringing “snow, ice and very cold winds”.

But Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon was quick to debunk that theory.

“High pressure from the east will bring temperatures down for many,” he said.

“But temperatures will be more towards average for December, which means it will still be quite cool for some.

“High pressure doesn’t always mean snow. What we are going to see is more settled conditions compared to the last week.”

November was “much milder than average”, Mr Dixon said, adding that the average temperature has been two degrees warmer than what is usual for this time of year.

Speaking on Thursday evening (1 December), Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said the northern hemisphere was now at the start of meteorological winter and that the UK would start to feel colder as a result of high pressure system over Eastern Europe, which had brought more stability by blocking weather systems from the Atlantic and which was responsible for the spate of foggy mornings with which the month began.

“But let’s not get carried away with thoughts of snow for this weekend because we’re not really going to see any just yet,” he said, conceding only that there might be some sleet over the Pennines and Scottish mountains.

He continued: “The air is colder than normal but it’s mixing with milder conditions at times as well from the near-continent.

“But it’s not tapping into the exceptionally cold air that you might experience over Siberia later in the winter so that’s why this isn’t a ‘Beast from the East’.”

Mr McGivern did say there was a possibility of snow in the second week of December but was reluctant to go much further.

“At this stage it would be impossible to give specifics on the location or extent of any snowfall,” he said.

It comes after the country experienced a noticeably mild October, with the highest temperature recorded at 22.9C, at Kew Gardens towards the end of the month, followed by a rainy and dreary November.

The balmy autumn followed a sizzling summer that saw record-breaking temperatures scorch the UK, jolting the country to the reality of the climate crisis.

While some may not be adverse to the warmer start to winter– especially as the cost of heating the house soars – experts from the Royal Horticultural Society (RJS) have warned that the mild conditions and heavy rain have encouraged “unseasonal plant growth” in what they called a “second spring”.

John David, head of horticultural taxonomy at RHS told The Guardian the warmer temperatures “can be problematic if you don’t have a proper dormant period, at some point, over the winter”.

December will not begin with a snowy start, Met Office confirms (Getty /iStock)

Met Office outlook

Today

Low cloud and fog patches in the south slowly lifting from the east as a chilly northeasterly wind develops, bringing sunny spells but also a few showers. Cloudier with patchy rain or drizzle at times across Scotland.

Tonight

Mild with cloud and patchy rain across NW Scotland. Elsewhere some clear spells but showers continuing to affect some eastern parts. Patchy frost developing away from eastern coastal areas.

Saturday

Rain and drizzle persisting across northwest Scotland. Elsewhere variable cloud and sunny intervals, best in the west. Scattered showers affecting North Sea coastal areas. Feeling chilly in the northeasterly breeze.

Outlook for Sunday to Tuesday

Remaining rather cold and often cloudy, with the best clear spells and sunshine likely in sheltered western areas. A few isolated showers that will be wintry across the high hills.

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