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‘Beast from the East 2’ possibility later this month as weather phenomenon looms

The shift can cause the jet stream to “meander more”, according to the UK’s Met Office, which in turn can lead to a large area of blocking high pressure which can lead to very cold, dry weather in Ireland, the UK and northern Europe.

The Beast from the East blizzard that hit in late February 2018 was due to a similar weather event. Photo: Niall Carson

Allison BrayIndependent.ie

Ireland could be blanketed in snow amid frigid conditions later this month or early in March as a weather pattern that contributed to the ‘Beast from the East’ blizzard, and the heavy snowfalls in 2010, is expected to develop in the coming days.

Meteorologists on both sides of the Irish Sea are keeping their eyes on a weather phenomenon called a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event that is forecast to take place over the next week.

Met Éireann climatologist Paul Moore said the phenomenon occurs when zonal winds that circulate parallel to the Equator around 30km high and at a latitude of 60 degrees north reverse from west to east – causing temperatures in the stratosphere over polar regions to rise significantly in just a few days.

The shift can cause the jet stream to “meander more”, according to the UK’s Met Office, which in turn can lead to a large area of blocking high pressure which can lead to very cold, dry weather in Ireland, the UK and northern Europe.

The so-called ‘Beast from the East’ blizzard that hit in late February 2018 was due to a SSW event earlier that month that caused major disruption to the weather patterns at the lower spectrum of the atmosphere, known as the troposphere “and led directly to the colder than average temperatures in Ireland during February and March 2018, including the very cold outbreak from the east culminating with Storm Emma at the end of February and beginning of March 2018,” Mr Moore said.

In recent years, some intensely cold events have been connected to the surface effects of SSWs, such as the extreme snowfalls in late 2009 and 2010.

It normally takes between two and three weeks for a major SSW event to have an impact on weather, but “major SSW events increase the likelihood for colder than average weather over northern and north-western Europe for several weeks to a few months after the event, but do not guarantee it”, he added.

However, he said every “SSW event is different” and not all of them disrupt the weather. Another SSW event in January 2019 “had no effect on the weather patterns over north-western Europe”.

Meanwhile, Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range forecasting at the UK Met Office said it is likely we will experience another SSW event in the coming days, but whether that leads to another blast of winter in a few weeks’ time remains to be seen.

“There is now over 80pc chance of a major SSW occurring. Any effect on UK weather is most likely to occur in late February and March,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Moore said if we do see any impact of the SSW in the Republic, it will likely be towards the end of February or in early March.

“Global weather models can usually forecast, quite accurately, what is going to happen in the polar stratosphere one to two weeks in advance, so the upcoming SSW event is highly likely,” he said.


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