The latest news from the Met office:
Weather commentary out to Friday:
Whilst less cold air has now reached most of the Northwest, the far N of the region (NE Cumbria/N Pennines) is still sufficiently cold for precipitation to fall as snow above 200m or so with the result that stations like RAF Spadeadam at 285m altitude is now reporting 20cm of lying snow. Through today the picture changes relatively little with further rain at times focussed mainly across Cumbria and Lancashire with some further snow accumulation likely above 200-300m across the N Pennines, especially during any heavier interludes. Further S across Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester a drier/brighter picture generally. This evening and overnight a further belt of rain moves NE’wards into the region, becoming anchored across Cumbria tomorrow before eventually easing and nudging over the border into S Scotland tomorrow afternoon. Whilst most of this precipitation will be rain there could still be some snow for the N Pennine parts of Cumbria for a time tomorrow morning. However, with this band of rain will eventually come another N’wards push of milder air which this time will get right over the border and hence initiate a slow thaw of the lying snow which, combined with the rain, could lead to some localised surface water issues, admittedly in one of the less populated parts of the region.
Friday looks to continue the generally unsettled theme with further rain at times almost anywhere and the air not sufficiently cold enough this time for any snow issues, even along the higher level routes. Overall then the message for the next three days is largely non-disruptive at low levels, the main concern being the potential for any localised surface water issues arising from i) the rainfall tonight/tomorrow morning given the very wet ground etc and ii) the added snowmelt across our part of the N Pennines which will come into play tomorrow.
Impending cold/very cold spell from the weekend into next week:
The potential for a well-marked return of the cold air was first alluded to in last Friday’s horizon-scanner but one is always wary of going ‘big’ on a potential cold spell in case the forecast models then have an abrupt change of mind. At this point in time, however, we can say with reasonable confidence that the most sustained cold spell of the winter thus far is almost certain to descend upon the Northwest as we progress through the weekend and especially, moving through Saturday night into Sunday as a cold/very cold E/NE’ly airflow, sourced from NE Europe/W Russia sets up. Context is important as everyone’s thoughts upon reading this will naturally gravitate back to late February 2018 and what became known as the ‘Beast from the East’. The forecast cold air outbreak does not (yet) look to have quite the severity as that of 2018 in terms of temperatures/wind speed/chill or severity of snow/drifting etc that we saw across the Pennine districts in particular. However, neither should we underestimate its potency and in terms of duration it could be that the spell lasts well into next week, if not right through next week. In terms of what to expect:
i) As per Feb and Mar 2018 snow shower activity, coming from the E, will mainly impact the eastern third or so of our region with the Pennine areas of Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire most at risk of any disruption from snow.
ii) The strength of the wind will determine to a large degree how far west snow showers penetrate.
iii) Towards the west coast conditions should be driest with the best of the sunshine here.
iv) There is always the possibility of an area of more organised snow spreading westwards which could then impact the more sheltered western end of the region.
A preliminary medium impacts snow warning covering Saturday through Monday has been issued this morning, attached above. This for now only impinges upon E Cumbria but is effectively saying that the worst of the conditions will be over and E of the Pennines, as we would expect. This does not rule out some snow getting into the Northwest and there will inevitably be more warnings issued as the event approaches and then unfolds. One impact the cold spell will inevitably have is on the vaccination programme, those having to queue outdoors exposed to the cold/very cold temperatures and the effects of wind-chill. Queueing locations sheltered from the eastnortheast could make a big difference here.
Current severe weather warning status:
Yellow warning of snow for the Cumbrian Pennines ongoing until 18:00 tomorrow (very low likelihood of medium impacts).
No more rain warnings in force across the Northwest.
Initial yellow warning for snow/ice for the E end of Cumbria (very low likelihood of medium impacts) valid 15:00 Saturday to midnight Mon/Tues.
This morning’s Flood Guidance Statement:
All of the region is under a green Area Of Concern depicting a low likelihood of minor river/surface water impacts from today through to Saturday. This includes the snowmelt factor for NE Cumbria. Saturday. This includes the snowmelt factor for NE Cumbria.