Heavy snow and polar temperatures could hit the UK later this month as the conditions for a second "beast from the east" are created.
Meteorologists have confirmed that a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event is developing high above the Arctic, the same phenomenon that brought the country to a halt two years ago.
Parts of the stratosphere have already warmed up by 50 ° C – which cannot be felt on the surface of the earth – and this has the power to interrupt the jet stream that controls much of UK weather.
Experts say it is possible that the current could be reversed and that the country could suffer from the freezing conditions currently prevailing in northern Scandinavia.
"The stratosphere over the North Pole has warmed, it started its process on January 4th and has been warming rapidly in the past few days," said Craig Snell, Met Office forecaster.
This could result in snowstorms covering the whole country with heavy snowfall and daytime temperatures as low as -5 ° C through late January and into February.
Experts warn that Britain could be hit again by another beast from the east this week after the same weather event that led to extreme snowstorms and freezing temperatures in 2018 (see picture)
Meteorologists have confirmed that a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event is developing high above the Arctic, the same phenomenon that stalled the country two years ago. Pictured: people walking through snow and freezing conditions at Lickey Hills Country Park in Birmingham
This could result in snowstorms covering the whole country with heavy snowfall and daytime temperatures as low as -5 ° C through late January and into February
There are fears that such an event could devastate the NHS and the ability to provide food and vaccines to vulnerable people in isolation at home.
Simon Lee, an atmospheric science and weather forecasting researcher at the University of Reading, told The Mirror: "Jet streams are often weakened after SSW, which means the UK is now more prone to colder weather outbreaks from the north and east than it was before.
& # 39; A weakened polar vortex can last up to two months so there is an increased likelihood of colder and drier weather in Europe in the next 4 to 6 weeks due to weaker Atlantic westerly winds.
& # 39; It also means we are less likely to see the type of storms and heavy rainfall associated with a strong jet stream that we experienced last winter.
& # 39; Major Sudden Warming of the Stratosphere (SSW) events occur on average slightly more often than every two winters.
"When the polar vortex is strong, the jet stream is often strong – which brings a milder winter to Britain and often leads to an increase in Atlantic storms."
At the 2018 event, the Met Office issued a top-level red snow warning, meaning the weather can cause damage to buildings and roads.
AA insurers estimated that cars were inflicted more than £ 10 million in damage in just three days when the beast from the east crashed onto the streets of Britain.
There were 16 specific weather-related deaths, although official data showed the extreme weather event may have raised the death rate to its highest level since 2009.
Due to the freezing conditions, passengers in Lewisham in east London were stranded on the train for more than four hours and were even able to slow the growth of potatoes from Royal Jersey by three weeks.
However, it is not yet known if the UK will be hit by the same harsh conditions as 2018, which was a "perfect storm" according to Met forecaster Craig Snell.
"It takes a couple of weeks for it (SSW) to have an impact on the earth's surface so we can't say for sure what it will do with the UK weather," added Craig.
"There is an increased likelihood that the UK's usual weather pattern will be blocked. However, it depends on where we are in that blockage – north or south – whether we will see weather similar to 2018."
Freezing fog settled in London and parts of the southeast today after temperatures dropped well below freezing overnight – as a weather warning for ice over parts of the UK.
Temperatures dropped to -12 ° C in Scotland yesterday, with Brighton recording -3 ° C overnight and London's mercury dropping to -2 ° C.
Frost and fog are expected to return in the south tonight, but the cold temperatures seen recently are expected to subside in the coming days.
It's coming to much of the country after a week of snow and ice – with a Met Office weather warning still in place.
Most of Scotland and northern England have been warned to be careful about ice on the roads. The Met Office warned that freezing temperatures could cause "some injuries from slips and falls," while there could be icy spots on untreated roads by 11 a.m. this morning.
There are weather warnings for rain in western Scotland and snow in the Shetland Islands that will last until tomorrow.
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