As 2018 draws to a close, I reflect on the crazy weather extremes it brought to the British Isles.
From Siberian Snowstorms to a Saharan-like Summer — low solar activity and the resulting ‘blocking persistence‘ really took hold this year.
2018 signalled the ‘true’ beginning of the Grand Solar Minimum.
January to March:
It seemed as if winter was going on forever in 2018, with thick snow falling to the ground through to mid-March.
Experts said this was the most significant amount of snowfall in the UK since December 2010 — and it was all thanks to the ‘Beast from the East’.
The raging storm originated from Siberia, and brought night-time temperatures as low as -15C to some northern parts.
The biting cold gripped the UK well into March, with a study from September discovering that there were at least 2,000 extra deaths in the country during this time.
Rounding off the winter, Storm Emma caused death and destruction when it hit the UK in late-March.
April – September:
According to the Met Office, this was the UK’s warmest summer since 2006, the driest since 2003 and the sunniest since 1995 (solar minimum of cycle 22).
The hottest day of the year was July 27, with a scorching 35.6 degrees recorded in Felsham, Suffolk.
Deaths rose to 650 above average during this time due to the heatwave, and June was in the top five hottest months on record.
Stormy weather intermittently returned throughout the summer months, with storm Hector bringing damaging winds to Northern Ireland before heading to Scotland and the North of England in June, just in time for the summer holidays.
October – December:
Those wet and wild westerlies continued to batter the UK through the final months of the year, but with the added fun of cold Arctic air threatening to plunge further and further south.
A clash between these two fronts brought heavy snowfall for all four UK nations as early as October. And the threat of snow lingered throughout the following two months, with northern regions seeing blizzard conditions in mid-December.
2018 was packed with wild swings between weather extremes — which was exactly the prediction as solar activity continued its decline (for more on reduced solar output and its effect on the jet stream, click here).
And the year left us with a taste of what’s to come in early 2019 too, as confidence grew regarding the onset of a strong SSW event above the northern latitudes which has the effect of drawing bitterly-cold Arctic down to the lower latitudes (click here for more on that).
January and February look set to bring Britain another clash between wild westerlies and frigid Siberian fronts — a sequel to the ‘Beast from the East’ looks to be on the cards.
The Grand Solar Minimum continues it’s intensification.
[Some of the info from a thesun.co.uk article]
[Featured Image:UK Met Office]