We’re forecasting the weather to turn cold and windy over the next 24 hours as a Polar maritime airmass, with its origins over northern Canada, moves into northern Scotland and then south across the whole of the UK.
The cold airmass will bring much lower temperatures to all parts by Thursday and biting northwesterly winds to the north. Snow showers, gales and widespread overnight frosts will affect much of the UK. National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued for wind and snow, with the heaviest and most frequent snow showers likely across northern and western Scotland, Northern Ireland and around Irish Sea coasts, but eastern coasts will also be affected at times later. There will be gales which could lead to temporary blizzard conditions as well as a risk of hail and thunder in some locations.
What will be the impact on aviation?
For aviation, the general theme of a run of cold nights means a spell of treating runways and taxiways and the de-icing of aircraft at many of the UK’s airports. For some though, there’s the bigger challenge of rapidly changing conditions associated with snow showers.
While for the most part it is airports close to windward coasts that are most at risk of seeing disruption from snow showers. However, there will be times when showers penetrate further inland, such as when driven by strong winds or local funnelling affects through high ground. There is also potential for the showers to be heavy enough to produce hail, lightning and turbulence as well as icing. Even if snow doesn’t settle it can cause problems by reducing visibility for aircraft and air traffic managing aircraft movement on the ground.
Although the south of the UK is likely to avoid the majority of the snow showers this area will see a spell of rain on Thursday, and there is a small chance that this rain could turn to sleet or snow which would bring a risk of significant impact for airports in the south.
This has potential to disrupt transport networks to and from the airports as well. Although considered a small threat at present, this one will be closely monitored as we approach the event. Friday also sees a risk of disruption. This time in the east as strong winds bring hail and snow showers onto the coast.
Ric Robins – Head of Meteorology and Science.