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Why The Jet Stream Is Responsible For The Sudden Cold Winter Weather

UK weather has turned colder and wetter in the last 7 days largely due to a change in the position of the Jet Stream.

The Jet Stream is a narrow band of strong winds that flows high above the Earth’s surface. It usually flows from west to east, but it can sometimes dip southwards or northwards allowing colder Arctic air to flow into the country. As a result, temperatures have fallen and there has been an increase in frost and wintry showers meaning our preparations for winter gritting will soon be being put into action and deployed.

Another way of looking at it is that the change in the Jet Stream has led to an influx of polar and arctic maritime air masses, a not unexpected weather phenomenon for this time of year. Read why our weather is so unique here…

The Jet Stream And Winter Forecasts

The Jet Stream is a bit of a beast with a mind of its own, but the change in its position this October is believed to be for a combination of factors, including:

  • The weakening of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The NAO is a large-scale atmospheric pressure pattern that influences the weather over the North Atlantic region. A positive NAO tends to bring mild and wet weather to the UK, while a negative NAO tends to bring colder and drier weather. The NAO has been in a negative phase for much of the last few years, which has contributed to the colder winters that the UK has experienced in recent years.
  • The loss of sea ice in the Arctic. Sea ice helps to reflect sunlight back into space, which helps to keep the Arctic cool. However, the amount of sea ice in the Arctic has been declining in recent years, due to climate change. This has led to the Arctic warming, which has in turn affected the jet stream

The Met Office has in fact issued a yellow weather warning for heavy rain weather across parts of Wales and England. If temperatures drop below freezing, this could lead to potential snowfall. This comes after the warmest October day in five years was recorded on Sunday, as temperatures hit 25.8C (78.4F) in Kew Gardens, west London.

Forecasting The Short Range Weather For Effective Winter Gritting

Combatting unpredictable weather means we are increasingly relying on short-range forecasts and the ability to act quickly and ensure any winter preparation and prevention; snow clearance and winter gritting is carried out in a tight window to minimise any impact to UK Business.

For the past few years, OUTCO’s short range forecasts have been running at +98% accuracy, meaning we can’t totally defeat the weather, but can effectively mitigate some of the impact that would otherwise be experienced.

OUTCO (formerly GRITIT) are the UK’s leading winter gritting and winter risk management provider, please speak to one of our team if you would like to find out how we can help you mitigate the impact of unexpected snow and ice!

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