The Beast from the East is lurking

Wednesday 5 December 2012, 13:54

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

There is now growing consensus between most weather computer models that cold air from the east is likely to spread across Britain next week.

If so, it will be the first time since March that high pressure has properly dominated our weather, and will end a long sequence of at times record breaking wet weather.

And it looks to be a classic winter-time set up, with a powerful anticyclone developing across Scandinavia and into western Russia, pulling in cold easterly winds across a large part of the country, hence the old saying 'the beast from the east'.

The diagram below is what's known as an 'ensemble mean' from the ECMWF model for the middle of next week.

The computer program is run 51 times, each time with slightly different starting conditions.

The solutions are then compared, and give forecasters an indication as to how likely a particular outcome is.

From the midnight run of the computer, 41 out of 51 of the solutions suggest an easterly weather pattern developing next week, with varying degrees of cold.

10 solutions do not agree with this cold easterly outcome, hence there is still some uncertainty. But, there's clearly a large majority in favour of this scenario at the moment.

What is much less certain is how much snow is likely to be associated with this change in the weather.

Quite often in these situations, there's a distinct lack of precipitation apart from wintry flurries which can develop as the air picks up moisture as it heads westwards across the North Sea.

But some solutions are suggesting 'disturbances' in the easterly flow, which would bring the risk of more general snowfall.

And of course there's always the risk of milder air trying to re-assert itself from from the west, which would also bring the risk of snow.

At the moment though, the cold but relatively dry scenario is the most likely outcome.

One way or the other, our weather is likely to become more seasonal in the lead up to Christmas.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    looks like ideal weather for the windfarms to show us what they can do. Haha

    in the meantime I'm dusting down the 4x4 and breaking out the leg lagging

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I've got my logs ready for when the wind turbines stop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    My American friend suggests I buy a snow rake, to stop damage to roofs when piled high with snow, especially flat ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    But weren't we told by those expert climate scientists that snowfalls were a thing of the past? Have we been misled?

    You can follow the puny amount of wind power produced during this cold spell at - it will make sorry reading.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I see us solar coolists are being proved right once again! We should prepare for more cold winters to come, it's becoming a trend following the sun going into hibernation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

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    Comment number 7.

    At least it was good propoganda to support the investments the BBC's pension fund has made in "green technology" companies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    There's no indication of solar cooling. According to UAH satellite temperature records October just passed was the 2nd warmest since 1980. September was the 3rd warmest. November data isn't in yet but it looks like it too will be 2nd warmest.

    I wouldn't call that global cooling. Especially as we are just short of an El Nino. Imagine how much warmer it would be if there was an El Nino.

    For that matter imagine how much warmer it would have been if the Sun wasn't quiet. Shouldn't we be more concerned that CO2 seems powerful enough to have overpowered the cooling power of a quiet Sun? What happens when the solar cooling stops, or even reverses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    or to put it another way. . . we're at (or about) solar max with positive sst's in the ENSO regions and yet we haven't seen a step jump. There seems to be little sign of a re-charged warm pool waiting to spring a large El Nino on us, despite the double dip 'La Nina that would not die'.
    I don't think there's much sign yet of either warming or cooling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    9.lateintheday wrote:

    “There seems to be little sign of a re-charged warm pool….”

    Yeh, and at present there does not appear to be much re-charging going on. The Cloudiness/OLR at the date line has been held at the 1979-2010 climatology for most of the year.

    Are the above average SSTs producing a level of cloud cover sufficient to restrict insolation, but not releasing enough energy through evaporation to produce a step change?

    Also I wonder how much energy Typhoon Bopha has taken out of the Western Pacific warm pool? The effects of Sandy are still evident in the Atlantic:-

    With the warm pool having more “strength in depth” maybe the effect of Bopha will not be as evident as Sandy, but it must have an effect.

    Which way now? Nobody knows! Is there sufficient energy in the warm pool or will SSTs fall below average facilitating further energy transfer?

    Time will tell

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    PingoSan seems to think that the cold weather disproves global warming. In fact the opposite is true. There is a good article in this month's Scientific American which explains why an unusually warm arctic leads to colder winters in Europe and N America. The reduced polar vortex leads to a greater probability of negative arctic and and atlantic oscillations which result in the classic pattern of cold air being drawn East from Siberia. This year we have the added problem of a developing el Nino.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Some may be interested in this at “Notrickszone”:-

    “Brutal Cold Headed For Europe And North America – Solar And Ocean Cycles Bode Of An Approaching Little Ice Age”

    Not the alarmism bit, we all know about “Smokin’ Joe”, but the solar info introduces a new, well new to me, metric – “Accumulated Sunspotanomaly until 47 month after cyclestart”

    There are just too many differing solar theories and metrics for me to gain any confidence.

    However maybe we are about to have a "real world experiment"

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    12. greensand wrote:

    Sorry 12 should have been posted on the previous thread, ho hum,

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    Comment number 14.

    @12 greensand

    The problem I have with Joe is that every year for the last few (3,4,5?) have been the start of a cooling period. Cooling will start next year, ok the next...UAH goes -ve for one month and its the start, again, until the month is over...

    Works opposite way too of course. Slight to no warming means scientists get hard questions, not sure the basic explaintions (was easier to keep it basic when C02 and temps both on the up) of whats happening helps them now, as explainations look shiffty.

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    Comment number 15.

    14. john_cogger wrote:

    "The problem I have with Joe"

    Joe is a showman, his job is to get the punters to enroll and he is in competition with other showmen. The problem I have is when other more trusted and restrained organisations feel that they have to compete with or react to the showmen.

    Leave them to it, they stand or fall on their predictions and of course so do the more stayed organisations.

    There is just one point at present that is in Smokin' Joe's favour, he made his prediction 5 days before this post, so is he ahead of the game this time? Don't know, didn't pay too much attention but I think his prediction was for 15 days in 3 x 5 day chunks, so far the first 5 days looks OK. Only time will tell about the rest.

    Anyhow Joe was not the point of my comment, just sort of came attached.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Better buy that new snow shovel then before the 'Beast Of Bolsover' and his colleagues make a mess of the economy and the price goes up

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    Comment number 17.

    I would trust the beast of Bolsover, more than the beast of Gideon.

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    Comment number 18.

    Autumn confirmed as coldest since 1993 and the year is on track to be second coldest since 1996.

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    Comment number 19.

    Hmm, the November RSS global anomaly is 0.195c, down from 0.294c in October.
    N.H. = 0.232c, compared with 0.317c and S.H. is 0.157c, compared with 0.270c.
    On the face of it, quite a surprising fall in temperature.
    My prediction at the end of November was 0.398c, but I think I said that looked odd, so I wouldn't necessarily expect similar falls in the other anomalies.
    The figure of 0.195c is similar to the 0.190c in 2007, which produced a UAH of 0.1c and a HadCRUT3 of 0.269c.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    19. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "Hmm, the November RSS global anomaly is 0.195c,"

    Hmm, indeed! Thanks for info QV. I take it UAH is in "recalibration"

    They diverged this time last year I wonder if it is anything to do the Arctic Ice reforming?


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Hello, I’m Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. 

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I worked as a forecaster with the Met Office for nearly 15 years locally and at the international unit, after graduating with first class honours in Geophysics and Planetary physics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992. I then joined the BBC in October 2007, where I divide my time between forecasting and reporting on stories about climate change and its implications for people's everyday lives.

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