BRITAIN will be hit with its coldest winter in 30 years as the Beast from the East returns with temperatures of -14C, forecasters have warned.
A freezing jet stream is expected to sweep across the UK in January – settling in across the country for weeks.
The predictions were made in one of the first long-range UK weather forecasts ever attempted.
One of the areas expected to be worst-hit by the arctic jet is The Midlands – with the weather bringing with it icy memories of the Beast from the East that covered the UK in a blanket of snow in 2018.
The team, led by Mark Saunders, a professor of climate prediction at University College London, told The Sunday Times: “This would rank the 2020 January-February central England temperature as the coldest winter since 2013.
“It would also rank January-February 2020 as the seventh coldest winter in the past 30 years.”
Forecasters studied the jet stream, which blows from east to west just above the north Atlantic and brings icy temperatures and snow when it lands.
What is the Beast from the East?
According to The Met Office, the ‘Beast from the East’ is a phrase used to describe cold and wintry conditions in the UK as a result of easterly winds from the near continent.
When pressure is high over Scandinavia, the UK tends to experience a polar continental air mass.
When this happens in winter, cold air is drawn in from the Eurasian landmass bringing the cold and wintry conditions that give rise to the ‘Beast from the East’ moniker.
For UK weather, this means the characteristics of the air depend on the length of sea track during its passage from Europe to the Britain.
The air is inherently very cold and dry and if it reaches southern Britain with a short sea track over the English Channel, the weather is characterised by clear skies and severe frost.
With a longer sea track over the North Sea, the air becomes unstable and moisture is added giving rise to showers of rain or snow, especially near the east coast of Britain.
The UK’s lowest temperatures usually occur in this air mass, lower than minus 10 °C at night, and sometimes remaining below freezing all day.
Polar continental air only reaches Britain between November and April. At other times of the year the source region is neither cold nor snow-covered and winds from north-eastern Europe bring a form of tropical continental air.
The Beast from the East, which hit in February last year, saw gusts of up to 70mph and temperatures of -14C recorded in parts of Scotland.
Meanwhile, 22 inches of snow fell in Gloucestershire.
The severe weather claimed the lives of 17 people, including a seven-year-old girl.
The predictions are in stark contrast to the UK’s summer that saw Brits swelter in the hottest July.
Over the late August Bank Holiday, Britain basked in temperatures of 33C.
And while season change has seen the trees start to drop their leaves, forecasters have warned it could be one of the hottest autumns in a century.
The mercury could soar back up, hitting heights of 26C as a plume of Saharan air follows the fallout from Dorian.
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Forecaster Brian Gaze said: “Computer forecast models support the three-month period ahead being among the warmest on record.
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Today will see average temperatures for this time of year, with the mercury hovering at around 18 to 19C in the South and around 14C up towards Scotland.
By the end of the weekend, Northern Ireland and Scotland will see some cloud and rain, with the West of England drenched by the beginning of the week.
Rain clouds from the west will spread over much of the country and Monday will be very different to today’s weather with lots of wind and rain as the Dorian and Gabrielle team up.
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