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Latest weather outlook - 5 Feb 2021

The latest from the Met Office. Thanks to them for keeping us updated:

No surprises what today’s horizon-scanning message majors on; the much-heralded cold spell that will bring the most sustained spell of cold weather of the winter thus far. Commencing later tomorrow it looks set to last throughout much of next week but, as with events in February 2018, there will be marked differences across the region from the west coast to the Pennine spine, be it across Cumbria or Cheshire. One big plus point in this weather set-up will be the almost complete absence (bar today/tomorrow and perhaps right at the end of next week) of liquid precipitation which means water levels in both the rivers and the ground can move in the right direction. Another plus point will be the increased amounts of sunshine, especially towards the west coast with W Cumbria in particular expected to fare well in the sunshine stakes this week. However, the further in one moves towards the Pennines so the greater the exposure to snow showers coming in from the east and the potential for some disruption. One thing that will impact all parts of the region is the cold, accentuated by the brisk E to NE wind from Sunday through Tuesday before it eases down.

Weather events over the coming week that merit (some) attention:

  • Patchy rain throughout tomorrow will turn increasingly to sleet and snow through the course of the afternoon and evening as the cold air starts to advance from the N, starting with Cumbria and working S’wards, any accumulations most likely over higher levels but ice liable to be an issue tomorrow night on untreated surfaces as temperatures drop below zero across most, if not all of the region. Precipitation tending to fade away overnight.

  • Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday – All parts seeing some clear/sunny intervals, especially towards the west coast where some locations could stay largely dry with only a few well scattered snow flurries/showers. Progressing eastwards towards the Pennines gives an increasing likelihood of snow showers, some of which on Monday/Tuesday in particular could turn heavy. Some accumulations of snow are possible, especially over E Cumbria (notably E of the M6), E/NE Lancashire, the E half of Greater Manchester and the eastern third of Cheshire. Snow at higher levels especially liable to be dry/powdery and prone to drifting. Potential for some disruption to travel and communities, mainly those located close to the Pennines, though hard to gauge the extent at this stage. Brisk E to NE winds will invoke significant wind-chill across the Northwest with max daytime temperatures a little above freezing towards the west coast but at or below freezing even at modest altitude.

  • Thursday/Friday – A dry interlude likely before attention focusses towards the S/SW as Atlantic weather systems start to attempt to displace the cold air ‘block’. Impossible to say for now exactly how this will pan out but any push of milder air would likely be accompanied by a period of snow which could prove disruptive. Let’s revisit this next week, far too uncertain for now.

Potential impacts from any of the above:

Ice risk tomorrow night on any untreated surfaces as much colder air seeps down from the N and, where rain/sleet/snow have fallen, surfaces are left either wet, white or a mixture of the two.

  • Sun-Wed: Snow showers liable to result in some accumulations across the Pennines and perhaps to a lesser degree, a little further westwards. Main threat of disruption to road/rail/communities will be over and immediately west of the Pennine chain. Drifting snow also a potential hazard but to an uncertain degree. For contextual purposes this event doesn’t look as severe as the Feb/Mar 2018 episode but could yet spring a few surprises that the forecast data don’t yet reveal.

  • More widespread disruption from snow possible later next week should Atlantic weather fronts make a determined incursion into the UK.

  • With some forecast models suggesting the Atlantic might win out by this time next week so rain, snowmelt and resulting surface water excess could come into play but again this is something to consider next week.

Current/Expected Met Office Severe Weather Warnings:

  • Strangely no severe weather warnings in force across the Northwest for now. An ice warning may be issued for tomorrow night if precipitation is affecting a sufficient portion of the region as the colder air arrives. The snow warnings issued thus far for the period Saturday to Monday have all been held at the Pennine county borders with the main threat of disruption for now reckoned to be on their eastern side. However, the situation will remain under close review and it is likely that eastern parts of the Northwest will see one or two snow warnings as the period unfolds.

This morning’s Flood Guidance Statement:

  • A clean bill of health here with all areas on very low flood risk throughout the next five days. Possible renewed flood risk towards the end of next week were snow, followed by snowmelt and further heavy rain to ensue


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