A strong jetstream to the SW of the UK will manufacture some tricky weather over the next 48 hours and continues to make details for the weekend uncertain. Here’s an outline of the likely scenario for Reigate and SE but the advice must be to watch the forecast if you are doing anything weather-related!
The jetstream is located to the SW of the UK and is blowing strongly from NW to SE. This means the UK is sitting in that vulnerable zone to the cool north-side of the jetstream where active small scale depressions can run-up rapidly and deepen off the left-exit region of the jetstream where temperature and pressure gradients are greatest. These depressions are small scale but can produce a lot of rain and their track is sometimes rather erratic: and tiny changes in track can make a big difference to the weather experienced!
Two LOWS are predicted to spring out of the jet from Fri-Sun: the first during Friday – will track directly over SE England and drop possibly 10mm of rain onto Reigate. As they track broadly S and E of UK, these LOWS will, in turn, swing the winds into a much cooler northerly or NE direction. Reigate is unlikely to get any strong wind because the LOW pressures are due to pass almost overhead… meaning we are likely get mostly light wind but potential for heavy showers as the cool polar air “warms through” during any sunny periods which will cause convective uplift and showers. There are also occluding fronts wrapped round these systems that could bring more persistent rain at times. The second LOW emerges on Saturday and is currently due to track off in a more southerly direction through France but could bring rain across S coasts. This one needs watching carefully as any movement north will cause a much wetter and unsettled Saturday than is currently on forecasts: which currently show Sat largely dry but with some poss showers later. Showers are possible as the cool air warms through and sparks convective showers on either Sat or Sun. Higher pressure ridges between these lows will bring cold nights, possibly frosty in places if cloud clears.
The complicating factor is that pretty cool air is wrapped up in these depressions, almost cool enough for sleet and wintry precipitation at times later on Friday for Reigate and during almost any showers that rotate around the remnants of the LOWS during Saturday and even into Sunday. Whilst wintry ppt is unlikely for Reigate, further north and over hills in Wales and N England there will be snow, probably patchy. short lived temporary wet snow at lower levels but accumulations possible over higher ground.
The only way Reigate will see any fleeting proper snow is if we get any HEAVY rain during the passage of fronts later on Friday and any showers left behind in low pressure Sat/Sun. All rainfall during this period will start as snow aloft, in fact almost all our rain in the UK starts as snow up high and simply melts as it descends. However, if rainfall is heavy enough it can actually COOL the air sufficiently so that further precipitation falls as snow. This is called evaporative cooling: some rainfall always evaporates on descending to the ground, even in cold weather. If enough rain evaporates then this will cool the air sufficient for freezing levels to fall to the surface and then, bingo, snow will descend to the surface as well! So, whilst rain can NEVER “turn to snow” (completely impossible!), it is possible for heavy rainfall falling through a sufficiently cool air mass (around -5c at 850hPa), to cause snow to reach the surface.