UK issues severe weather alert as experts warn of worst storm in decades

by ClickGreen staff. Published Mon 12 Dec 2011 16:49, Last updated: 2011-12-12
UK warned to expect a storm battering at end of the week
UK warned to expect a storm battering at end of the week

Government officials have this afternoon issued a warning as one of the stormiest periods the UK has seen for several years is set to worsen. Weather experts warn the strength of an incoming low-pressure system can already be compared to the Great Storm of 1703.

According to the advisory released by the Central Office of Information this afternoon, the end of the week in particular could see dramatic stormy conditions across England and Wales.

Experts are already warning that Friday's storm could be likened to the Great Storm of 1703 with a forecast of record low pressures as hurricane-force winds crash in from the west.

Weather records show the pressure at the centre of the 1703 Great Storm was 973 millibars but current forecast data shows the pressure at the centre of Friday's storm will be around 972 millibars and could even drop as low as 920 millibars.

According to the latest severe weather warning, Scotland is unlikely to be as badly affected by Friday's storm as England and Wales.

Jonathan Powell of Positive Weather Solutions told ClickGreen tonight that Friday's storm is likely to be destructive as well as disruptive.

“There is every expectation that the storm later in the week will deliver an extraordinary punch,” he said. “Winds are forecast to reach 80mph and there is every possibility the storm will wind itself up even further as it crosses the Atlantic.”

The Met Office said an Atlantic storm passing over the UK later today will bring wet and windy weather to the whole country, with some particularly heavy rain for parts of Wales and South West England.

Up to 60mm is possible in places, accompanied by gale-force winds in the south, where exposed areas could see gusts of up to 70mph.

There is the risk that any part of the UK could see some snow during Tuesday, with the snow likely to settle on higher ground in parts of central and northern Britain.

Wednesday looks bright and breezy for most places, but early indications are that there is a potential for another storm system to affect parts of England and Wales later on Thursday and into Friday.

Tim Hewson, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “There is some uncertainty in the forecast for later in the week, but there is potential for a significant storm and we are keeping a close eye on the situation as it develops.

“We’ll be regularly updating our forecasts and warnings, so we advise everyone to stay up to date with the latest situation.”

Meteorologists say the current spate of extreme wet and windy conditions is a result of freak conditions in the upper atmosphere over the North Atlantic Ocean.

Forecaster Tim Ballisty of Atlanta-based explained that while the UK was in the icy grip of the Big Freeze this time last year, this year a shift in atmospheric conditions meant the country would be prone to more extreme weather and Atlantic storms.

He explained: “In 2011, there was what was known as the 'Greenland Block' that virtually created a traffic jam in the atmosphere – the Arctic air that normally progresses from West to East was forced to plunge southward and created the Big Freeze across much of the northern hemisphere, including the East Coast of the US and much of Europe.

“However this year, there is no 'Greenland Block' so these weather systems can freely pass from West to East unobstructed and gather destructive power on their way across the ocean.

“These storms are all part of the seasonal change and look very likely to continue.”

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