Archives For Reigate

2016-05-16_10-57-06

How can there possibly be a link between a modestly cool month in Reigate and the earliest start to the melt-season in Greenland, the devastating wild fires in Canada and the seventh hottest-ever global month in succession?

April summary weather statistics for Reigate

  • Average Temp 8.2C
  • Tmax 17.7C
  • Tmin 0.1C
  • precipitation 43.4mm (local Reigate) SE PPT 55mm
  • sunshine 140.4 hours
  • Max wind gust 30mph
  • average wind bearing 199 degrees

Reigate, like the UK as a whole, had a cooler than average April at 8.2C. The town even experienced some unusual snow showers on 26 April in a cool northerly air flow.

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The cool month for the UK is in stark contrast to the bulk of the planet which experienced a much much warmer month than average, at over 1.1C warmer than any previously measured April.

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Astonishingly, this is the seventh month straight that has brought record breaking global temperature anomalies.  This continuing succession of warm months globally should be of concern to everyone.  More on this below.

Back to the UK… The Central England Temperature came out at 7.5C,  0.4C below average, and the UK mean was even lower at 6.5C, 0.9C below the long term average.

Rainfall was about average in Reigate with around 40mm of rainfall.  The MetOffice SE figure came out at 55mm.

April was sunnier than usual with a total of 140 hours of sunshine.

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This continues the trend of drier and sunnier Aprils in the UK in recent years.

The first half of April was unsettled with most of the rain falling associated with low pressure systems and fronts. The second half of April saw an unusual cool period as northern blocking over the Arctic sent cool northerly winds south with attendant sunshine and showers.

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Globally April was the warmest ever April on record.  An anomaly of 1.1C sent the Paris target of keeping global temperatures below 1.5C into grave doubt as this is the 7th month in succession to yield much higher temperatures than ever. This is now being dubbed a “Climate Emergency” because of the sudden and rapid increase in global temperature to levels not expected to occur so soon.

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The UK / NW Europe was about the only part of the planet, with NE Canada, to record below average temperatures.

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The cool spot over the UK  was due to northern blocking (high pressure) over the Arctic. As pressure rose over the Arctic, cold air pushed out into mid-latitudes.

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It is a matter of chance where high pressure and low pressure set up that determines where cold polar air penetrates in these northern blocking scenarios.  This time the pattern sent the cold air to the UK and N Europe.  The Northern Hemisphere as a whole saw anomalously low snow cover as a result of incredibly high temperatures elsewhere.

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Arctic Amplification, where the northern latitudes experience highest rates of warming, is well documented and of increasing concern to climate change.  It is acting as both a response and a further driving force behind rapid climate change.

Temperatures rocketed over the Arctic this cold season with temperature departures over 3C widely across the Polar regions.  The Greenland ice sheet experienced one of the earliest starts to the ice melt season on record.

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Arctic Sea cover also recorded another record low maximum winter extent.

“On March 24, Arctic sea ice extent peaked at 5.607 million square miles (14.52 million square kilometers), a new record low winter maximum extent in the satellite record that started in 1979. It is slightly smaller than the previous record low maximum extent of 5.612 million square miles (14.54 million square kilometers) that occurred last year. The 13 smallest maximum extents on the satellite record have happened in the last 13 years.” NASA 

This is both a response and a further catastrophe for climate change.  As snow and ice melt in the Polar regions there are connections with further warming as darker sea and land surfaces heat up more readily.

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This Polar warming itself is connected with a weaker jetstream as latitudinal temperature gradients in the atmosphere decline.  It is temperature gradient, especially in Mid-Latitudes, that generates the driving force behind the jetstream.  A weaker jetstream is said to cause more blocked atmospheric conditions as it meanders with greater amplitude in a meridional pattern that locks in swoops of northerly and southerly winds. More extreme weather is caused as these pressure patterns persist for longer.  Sweeps of warmer air penetrate into the Arctic, melting more ice over Greenland and, for mid-latitudes, cooler dry Polar air leaks out causing damaging late frosts and wild fires.

So, whilst it seems tenuous to connect these far-off events to our own rather benignly cool April, it is still important to think globally when considering how our own weather links to increasingly extreme weather elsewhere.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/16/april-third-month-in-row-to-break-global-temperature-records?CMP=share_btn_tw

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36212145

2016-04-27_18-39-27

Today we put up a new weather station at our sports ground at Hartswood outside Reigate. This location will complement our established town weather station located at Reigate Grammar School. Hartswood is an out of town location with more exposure from all wind directions. It is already recording different conditions to the town (see links below).

The new weather station is a robust self-contained Davis Vantage Vue automatic weather station (AWS).  This model was chosen for its ability to cope with exposed sites and it has a reputation for being relatively maintenance free for longer periods.  It is commonly put on masts on rooves, as we have done here.

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This AWS is unusual because it uses the new Vantage Connect system.  The Connect system uses the mobile phone network to transmit data at 15 minute intervals to the Weatherlink website where it is pushed onwards to other websites, such as Weather Underground.  There is also a handy local live read out of weather on a console in the Tea Hut window.

The Vantage Vue weather station is simple to set up being a single housed unit. Attaching the anemometer and wind vane involves tightening screws with a tiny allen key. The Connect System is also easy to set up. Insert and connect batteries, start both systems up and they will endeavour to discover each other with little intervention.

The console unit also discovers the AWS and starts displaying data almost immediately with little user input.

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Once the systems are working and data is uploading reliably to the internet then assembly and fitting onto the roof is the next step.  An aerial expert was employed for this bit.

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Orientation to the South is important for both the Vantage Vue and Connect systems. Not only do they both use solar panels to maintain battery power (used at night of course) the Vantage Vue also requires a southerly orientation to ensure that wind direction readings are accurately recorded by the wind vane.  This is all explained in the manuals.

 

Roof top sites for AWS are popular but they have pros and cons.  Whilst wind readings benefit greatly from a clear wind run at height (so long as the mast exceeds a metre or so above the roof line to avoid eddies and turbulence), the accuracy of rain recordings can sometimes suffer with greater wind speed rendering totals somewhat less reliable than traditional ground based rain gauges (although ground based AWS often do not entirely satisfy strict meteorological conditions for rain gauge placement either).  Roof locations benefit from better security and connectivity.  Overall, with single-unit compact weather stations a roof top location is a good compromise and the most effective use of this technology.  Our Vantage Pro 2 AWS in town allowed us to divide the rain gauge and temperature sensor units on the ground from the anemometer on the roof, a better solution.

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“Live” weather data from Hartswood can now be viewed on the internet in these locations:

www.wunderground.com

weatherlink.com

Weatherlink summary

It is hoped the data will prove to be useful for checking the weather conditions before matches for staff, students, players and spectators preparing for their match or visit.

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Eventually a ground frost sensor can be added to issue alarms when ground temperatures fall to near zero. This will save some guess-work and early visits to check if pitches are frozen or not. Data will also be useful for students doing weather studies in urban micro-climate and the data can also be used by computing and maths students amongst many other applications.

RGSweather will also be able to compare data between town and edge of town locations.

Whilst Storm Katie was not a record-breaker by any means she did provide some evidence of stingjet winds in the wrap-around feature that showed up especially on IR satellite photos and rainfall radar in the later stages of her track across the SE and UK.

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Here is some analysis from local Reigate Surrey records of these winds to explore this feature more. Stingjets can be the most damaging winds, in this case they were not especially strong.  Professionals, like Matt Hugo (NorthWstWx services) and Simon Lee (MMetReading), saw hints of stingjets during the passage of the storm but what evidence of stingjet winds is there “on the ground” and how can amateur observers watch out for these potent weather features in future?

Katie’s rapid cyclogenesis prior to landfall over the UK was a precursor to the formation of stingjet winds.

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Stingjets are associated with vigorous bomb-depressions developed in a process called rapid cyclogenesis: in RaCy depressions central pressure falls very rapidly and slows the horizontal surface speed of the cyclone.  A stingjet is a narrow band of gusty winds that descend from high altitude in the latter stages of RaCy depressions.  They arrive from some 3-4km above the ground and are associated with descending stratospheric air into the low core.  Ironically stingjets are associated with weakening fronts and aging cyclones.  This descent of upper air pushes the jetstream lower and this can deliver extremely gusty conditions to the surface in a narrow band that is shown by a cloud hook and matching rainfall pattern.

Watervapour satellite loop from 00hrs to 8am showing dry descending stratospheric air forming a dark slot – dry intrusion – that wraps into the developing low core: a sure signal of rapid intensification.

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The hooked rainfall signature below matched a marked increase in the strength of wind and the modest strongest gusts of the whole event of 52mph in Reigate. In exposed places like Redhill aerodrome this exceeded 60mph and over the North Downs at Kenley 68mph was recorded with 70mph in places. 2016-03-28_07-32-34 Arriving from high altitude, stingjet winds are unsurprisingly cold with low dew points. So you’d expect a dip in temperature at the surface.  Parts of Wales and Shropshire had snow in this airstream wrapping round the back of the low as it moved into the North Sea. Stingjets match the mature stage of the Shapiro-Keyser cyclogenesis model.  In all respects, they are aptly named as the “sting in the tale”.

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metoffice stingjet info

Storm Katie had some generally strong winds (for the SE of the UK!) associated with the southern edge of this cyclone where the tightest pressure gradients developed as pressure fell across the SE: in the narrow warm sector especially.  The lowest central pressure was 971mb.  Our Wight-Wash Oscillation reached 16 or 17mb at one stage: the difference between the pressure over the Isle of Wight and the Wash.

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Most significant storms to impact SE England have similar NE tracks through the Bristol Channel and exiting through the Wash. This was certainly the case with October 1987, St Jude 2013 and Storm Katie March 2016.

A complex warm sector and bent-back wrapped occlusion make it tricky to identify the normal Norwegian model of warm-cold frontal passage.

It is more likely that Katie, like other RaCY depressions, developed according to the Shapiro-Keyser model of rapid cyclogenesis which involves a break away cold front fracturing away from the depression core: T-bone.

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The wrapped rainfall radar and cloud hook above both suggest a stingjet feature associated with this kind of development.

Now, onto evidence stingjets… the passage of the strongest gusts shown below do not match the passage of a “normal” cold front but suggest some other process was at work to deliver the strongest gusts.  The strongest winds occurred 3 hours after the passage of the front that started to deliver the expected colder polar air behind the wrapped occlusion. This can be seen from the chart of Reigate wind speeds and temperature below. 2016-03-28_22-25-38 The chart shows the persistent warm sector gales proceeding from midnight on 28 March through to about 5am.  These gales do not exceed 80kmh but they modestly peak just before the passage of the front, an expected pattern.  Fronts then pass through Reigate at about 5am and temperatures fall as expected, as do gusts.  However, from 7am gust strength sharply increase, this matches the timing of the sting jet cloud feature on satellite photos.  This increase in wind speed had no front associated with it and therefore suggests evidence of a stingjet process: arriving out of the blue!

Note the temporary drop of temperature to a minimum and recovery after the departure of strongest winds.  This again suggests these winds are not frontal in origin but are part of the stingjet process.  Are they associated with a sting jet of descending high altitude air originating some 3-4km in the troposphere?  I’d like to think this is a sting jet signature but will need confirmation from official sources to pin this down. 2016-03-29_07-29-56 For comparison shown above is a “normal” cold front passage from the previous weekend when a cold front squall line of some note passed through.  Note there is no dip to minimum temperature associated with the maximum gusts and temperatures remain cold after the passage of the front because of the insurgence of cold polar air.   This is more typical behaviour when it comes to frontal passage.

 

 

Other charts and references support this idea, but some not unfortunately not quite with same timings.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/2/p/Sting_Jet_Flyer.PDF

2016-03-27_08-43-08

Before we get to Katie, it’s worth mentioning recent and current weather for Easter Sunday: the first convective day of 2016.  A cold pool of polar upper air followed the impressive cold front yesterday which developed a very long squall line.

Thundery conditions followed the cold front in an unstable Polar airmass with notable CAPE (convective available energy) and negative 2 Lifted Index for the time of year – both indicators of potential thundery heavy shower activity.  The limiting factor on multicell thunderstorms locally was lack of wind shear and an anticyclonic jetstream, both subduing anything truly impressive or sustained. Nevertheless, some hail and thunderstorm activity is rife across the UK today in this unstable polar maritime airmass.

Storm Katie is riding a powerful jetstream and deepening rapidly over the Atlantic through today.  She is some 600miles away to the SW but approaching and deepening rapidly as she undergoes rapid cyclogenesis (RaCy) falling from 999mb to 975mb:  24mb in 24 hours, qualifying as a “bomb depression”.

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Katie emerged out of Canada earlier this week as cold continental air met humid sub-tropical maritime air.  She engaged with an active jetstream to be launched across the Atlantic.  Storms tend not to move fast and deepen rapidly at the same time, so her rapid progress across the Atlantic will now slow as she now expends more energy lowering pressure on her approach to the UK.

The evolution and track of this storm is similar to St Jude October 2013, but Katie is forecast to be less powerful, due in part to the slacker pressure rise on her departure into the North Sea.** (update: in the event Katie pipped StJude, see below!)

Katie also has some similarities to the October 1987 but again is significantly less powerful than that rare 200 year event.

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The water vapour sat pics below show the evolution of Katie and cirrus cloud associated with the jetstream.

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Baroclinic leaf in the Atlantic, jetsream cirrus to the UK

 

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dark slot shows rapid intensification stage as strat air descends into LOW, showers over UK

Storm Katie is forecast to deepen through the SW approaches to below 980mb on an expected track overnight Sunday-Monday from Biscay into the Bristol Channel through to exit around the Wash.

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The pressure gradient between the Isle of Wight and the Wash could be as much as 12mb… the highest of our Wight-Wash Oscillations recorded, and greater than the 10mb WWO recorded in StJude, if this comes off.

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However, the pressure rise behind Katie is expected to be less rapid and sustained than St Jude, so this critically reduces the potential for highest gusts, sting jets aside.

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The highest wind speeds for Storm Katie will be south of the low core in the occluding warm sector in the small hours of Monday morning.

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Max gusts of over 80mph are possible in the Channel, 70mph along Channel coasts and 60mph further inland.  For Reigate this means a brief episode of gusts possibly exceeding 50mph and more over exposed hills.  This could wake people up momentarily as gusts roar through trees and round houses.

Rainfall will be significant too and some hi res models put down >40mm over parts of the North Downs, showing the significance of small hills in generating orographic rainfall.

Rainfall more widely is more likely to be around 20-30mm, enough for local flooding. The MetOffice have issued a yellow warning for Storm Katie.  Check the weather impact matrix showing moderate likelihood of moderate impact (low yellow).

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Update: Amber warning issued for Storm Katie.

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The shipping forecast is less equivocal and shows storm warnings right around the UK associated with Katie and other low pressure systems.  Storm Force 10 is possible in the Channel for a while. http://bbc.in/1RtwvyS

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Furthermore, evolution so far matching StJude and the Wight-Wash pressure gradient forecast seems to be matching or beating St Jude.

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Below is a Meteosat picture (courtesy Dundee sat receiving station) showing Katie moving into the North Sea, deepening again slightly to 972mb,

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Meteosat visible photo of Storm Katie moving into North Sea on Monday 28 March

Post-Katie we enter a broadly zonal westerly flow but turning cooler as slack winds swing northerly through the week as LOW pressure moves into North Sea/Scandinavia. Unsettled and showery activity continues through the week but with pressure slowly rising from the west by Thursday. No further significant storms are expected for the time being. Into the start of April, pressure over the Atlantic is expected to rise and progress over the south of the UK into Europe to give a settled period for the start of April.

RGSweather is off to East Iceland, so expect occasional tweets and updates from cooler climes.

Storm Katie: In the Event:

various meteorological impacts show Katie exceed StJude in power but both fall well short of October 1987 Great Storm.

  • Max wind gusts Needles 105mph (St Jude 99mph)
  • Reigate max wind gust 51mph, widely 50-60mph and 70mph on North Downs (Kenley) Gatwick 59mph
  • Redhill aerodrome recorded 70mph gust at 04:50
  • Lowest pressure: 971mb (St Jude 2013 976mb; Oct’87 958mb)
  • Reigate lowest pressure 976mb (St Jude 980mb; Oct ’87 est
  • Reigate rainfall 20mm
  • Wight-Wash Oscillation 14mb (St Jude 12mb, Oct ’87 storm 20mb!)
  • Rapid rise in River Mole catchment – no significant flooding but overtopped bankfull stage.

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Note, compared with the Oct ’87 storm Katie and St Jude are found wanting.  The Wight-Wash Oscillation for the 200 year storm of October 1987 was a whopping 20mb! See the chart below for the exit of the Oct 87 storm through the Wash on 16 October 1987.

Finally, which of these big SE storms are most powerful? Play SE storms TRUMPS to find out..

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-35910151

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24708614

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/update-more-than-600-incident-in-sussex-as-storm-katie-batters-the-south-1-7299324?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/weather/12205613/Storm-Katie.html?frame=3601967

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35909651

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3512119/Storm-Katie-batters-Britain-Gales-100mph-dozens-flights-cancelled-UK-wakes-Bank-Holiday-washout.html

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/28/storm-katie-flight-diversions-wind-rain-batter-southern-england-and-wales

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/see-full-carnage-storm-katie-7644830

local coverage

http://www.dorkingandleatherheadadvertiser.co.uk/Storm-Katie-Trees-power-Surrey-storm-hits-PHOTOS/story-29006658-detail/story.html

2016-03-21_19-02-57

The Atlantic is showing off some classic visible cloud features of cyclone birth and decay today.  Systems labelled 1-4 on the satellite photo above show different features including stages of cyclone / mid-latitude depression formation and decaying high pressure ridge all on one satellite picture.  The chart below shows the same view with fronts.

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Starting with LOW number #2 (why not?!): the spectacular classic cloud spiral of LOW #2 indicates a mature low occluding and filling.

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This maturing occluding LOW has a couple of interesting extra vortices near the low core.

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Despite their angry look, classic cloud spirals like this on satellite photos are actually decaying and filling lows, losing their strength as pressure rises in the low core.  This particular LOW has a spectacular cold front of over 1500 miles stretching from 60N to the sub-tropics. The red colours on the RGB false colour eumetsat image below shows the cold continental polar air surging in behind the cold front.

Low #1 is a rapidly intensifying LOW off the coast of Labrador.  It looks harmless as a smudge of cloud but this shape … a so called “baroclinic leaf” indicates the birth of an angry developing storm: rapid cyclogenesis.

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This will deepen and pressure will fall rapidly in the next 24 hours as frigid continental air collides with humid maritime air under the influence of an active 200mph jetstream.

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LOW #1 is expected to form a big storm in the Labrador Sea by Wednesday. The fronts on this storm are then forecast to stretch clean across the Atlantic and bring the SE our first frontal rain for over a week by later Thursday.

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System #3  on the top satellite photo shows the HIGH pressure lingering over the South of the UK but regressing into the Atlantic.  This ridge has dominated mid to late March weather in the UK but brought a lot of anticyclonic gloom to the SE.  The deflating ridge will allow a more unsettled Atlantic westerly regime to dominate late March and early April weather.

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Low pressure #4 is an interesting developing depression in the Mediterranean, courtesy of a southward limb of the jetstream. Currently a disturbance dumping snow over the N Atlas in Morocco, this LOW is set to deepen across the Mediterranean through the week.  It will track directly ENE through the Med and bring snow to the Atlas mountains, rain to N Algeria and foul wet, windy and wintry conditions to Italy and then more snow and wintry weather to the Balkans.

Finally, for the UK our weak ridge is deflating to the SW and this will open the door to zonal westerlies and frontal systems bringing rain and wind from later Thursday and into the weekend.  Ensembles below show the dry spell ending this week and some notable rainfall spikes in the days to come, especially over the weekend.

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Imogen is the ninth named MetOffice storm this winter.  She formed in the Atlantic in an area of steep temperature gradients under control from an active jetstream.

 

Storm Imogen is deepening rapidly today to 953mb, though on arrival in the UK she will be occluding and filling gradually to above 960mb on her track over N Scotland into the North Sea on Monday. The exact track makes a big difference to where the strongest winds are.  Current trends are for the storm to pull wind fields further north so impacts could be less than expected. Keep an eye on the MetOffice forecast as things are likely to change. Below is an outline of Imogen’s likely activity:

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Unlike the previous eight named storms, Imogen has a more southerly track, guided by a more southerly tracking jetstream, and the field of strongest winds and heavy rain are possibly set to impact the densely populated southern part of the UK, including the SE. High waves are also expected on the Channel coast.

 

Strong winds on Sunday night will be associated with Imogen’s fronts running ahead of the depression.  The cold front is an active kata-front, associated with descending cold dry air from the stratosphere running ahead of the surface front and enhancing lift and potentially generating heavier rain and gusty conditions (image and info courtesy UKweatherworld).

On Monday gusts up to 80mph on the Channel coast are possible, while inland the MetOffice consider 60mph possible in exposed places.  Around Reigate and sheltered parts of Surrey, 40-50mph gusts are more likely.  The North Downs could see gusts approaching 60mph. The strongest winds for the SE are likely to be through midday and in the afternoon.

Yellow warnings apply to inland parts of Surrey and SE England while the entire Channel coast has an Amber MetOffice warning. The first impact will be frontal rain tonight.  Fronts passing through overnight into Monday could drop over 20mm of rain in places particularly linked to the occluding “triple point” forecast to cross the SE overnight.

 

Monday is likely to see showers, some heavy, appearing through the day.  Warm sea surface temps in the Channel are likely to cause more on the coast but the brisk winds could bring them inland as the day progresses.

The cause of the strong winds behind the cold front on Monday is a steep pressure gradient.  On Monday tightening isobars show the steep pressure gradient bringing gusty showery conditions in unstable Polar Maritime air behind the cold front later on Monday.

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The Wight-Wash Oscillation (WWO) measures the pressure difference between The Wash and the Isle of Wight and is designed as a guide to wind speed in the SE corner of the UK. The WWO on Monday shows a significant 16mb gradient between The Wash and the Isle of Wight on the WRF model.  The Euro4 model has a more modest 12mb WWO.  16mb would be the largest WWO pressure gradient recorded and greater than St Jude, which was 12mb.

On Tuesday models show a wave depression bringing more rain to the SE, some even show fleeting wintry precipitation on the back end of this low as colder air ingresses from the north.  This is unlikely to be significant, at least on Tuesday, as upper air temps remain mostly too high for snow in the SE.

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ECM colder flow mid-week

Colder conditions are preferred by the ECM as northerly winds bring cool polar air further into the country through mid-week.  The Arctic Oscillation is again going negative which shows pressure rising over the Poles trying to push Arctic air south into mid-latitudes.  However, the NAO remains positive so Atlantic depressions will continue to bring frontal depressions for this week.

The 8-10 day mean shows a deep trough over the UK meaning low pressure and unsettled conditions remain likely into half term.

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The ECM builds heights over southern Greenland which links with higher pressure over the Atlantic, a more northerly feed of cold polar air is likely in this scenario into half term . The ECM has been outperforming the GFS so the more Atlantic driven GFS chart would be the less favoured option.

The Sudden Stratospheric Warming going on over the Pole is another astonishing feature of weather at the moment.  Today (Sunday) temperatures in the stratosphere over Siberia has got up to an amazing +12C from a more usual -70C.  SSW events often build pressure over the Polar troposphere a few weeks later which can cause cold incursions into mid-latitudes.  This is by no means certain but is perhaps our last chance of any sustained cold this winter… if it were to happen it would be late Feb/March. One to watch!

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Jonas to UK this week

The phenomenal winter storm Jonas brought NE USA to a standstill over the weekend as more than 20 inches of snow fell on Washington and New York.   Jonas was a truly massive storm and broke regional snowfall records with up to a metre of snow in places, and brought a record storm surge of 9.27 feet on the Delaware coast with significant coastal flooding (beating Super Storm Sandy surge in places*). Weather Underground reported…

This nor’easter, dubbed Winter Storm Jonas, was one for the ages–among the most powerful and far-reaching in regional history.  Jeff Masters Weather Underground

Jonas threw blizzards, storm surge, heavy snow, icy rain and thundersnow at the US over the weekend.  Here is a brief outline of the storm and a look at where it is headed next.  It is worth noting that potentially another Nor-Easter snow storm is possible for this part of the USA later this week, although less likely to be as powerful.

New York had it’s heaviest daily snowfall total on record on Saturday courtesy of Jonas. Forecasters started warnings several days out and the National Weather Service made people aware of the seriousness of this storm in the lead up.

Jonas was a classic and historic “Nor-Easter” storm albeit with the potential added spark of warmer than usual Gulf Stream temperatures.  The system was well forecasted by the NWP models from several days out.  An insignificant low pressure disturbance entered the NW Pacific coast of the North America earlier last week, traversed the continent and emerged out of the SE dragging cold continental air to interact with warm Gulf moisture.

This explosive mix was exacerbated because both the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Stream sea surface temperatures were anomalously high adding to the moisture and energy available for this storm.

“Take unusually warm Atlantic ocean surface temperatures (temperatures are in the 70s off the coast of Virginia), add a cold Arctic outbreak (something we’ll continue to get even as global warming proceeds), mix them together and you get huge amounts of energy and moisture, and monster snowfalls, like we’re about to see here” Michael Mann, climate researcher who directs Penn State University’s earth systems science center.

The storm got hooked up by a strong jetstream and traveled rapidly north over Friday 22 Jan, hugging the east coast and intensifying as pressure fell into Saturday 23 Jan and leaving the coast by Sunday 24 Jan.

The chart below shows the jet during the lead up to the storm on Tuesday 19 Jan.  Spot the LOW mid-west, this was Jonas in the making.

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jetstream emerging out of Gulf of Mexico… perfect Nor-Easter set up, spot LOW Jonas over MidWest

Another important element making this one of the top two most intense Nor-Easter winter storms on record was HIGH pressure lodged over NE Canada which intensified the pressure gradient and increasing those north-easterly wind speeds.  These strong winds drove ice and snow across a vast swathe of the NE and dumped 2 feet of snow as far north as New York city.

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In addition to large snowfalls the low pressure and strong on-shore winds also created a storm surge risk on high tides.  The coastal impact was recorded by a series of video cameras placed along the New Jersey coast by Hurricane Track’s Mark Sudduth.

Jonas is now forecast to track across the Atlantic, riding the jetstream and deepening on approach to the UK by Tuesday.

2016-01-24_14-03-54

Jonas GEFS tracks set to cross near NW Scotland

Through Tuesday and Wednesday Jonas will bring some stormy and wet but mild conditions especially to the NW of the UK.  Nevertheless potentially 70mph gusts are forecast for parts NW Britain.  Gusty conditions on associated fronts are likely at times here in the SE as well, but nothing like the intensity or disruption of the US version.

Further ahead, at least this week, the NAO and AO are both trending positive and this is set to bring further unsettled conditions across the Atlantic separated by drier periods of higher pressure, but mostly staying a good deal milder than average.

The pressure over the Poles has weakened and the Icelandic low has deepend, both indicating a lack of sustained cold potential in the near future for the UK.  Nevertheless, action in the stratosphere is hotting up with a forecast sudden stratospheric warming afoot.  Sudden warming events in the stratosphere can build pressure over the Poles and increase the chance of sustained cold weather, sometimes, over Europe.  This occurs several weeks after an SSW and the forecast SSW, if it occurs, is still at the end of model runs so… any chance of sustained cold risk can most likely be reserved for several weeks ahead as things stand. The temperature and pressure anomaly scene in the Post – Jonas world looks like this: a warm NW Europe, warm Pole and cold NE USA.

 

Winter storm Jonas References

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/colossal-noreaster-dumps-record-snow-from-maryland-to-new-york

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=19070

http://mashable.com/2016/01/22/causes-of-east-coast-blizzard-global-warming/#ZQIP9mQOOmqb

2016-01-09_13-34-29

Atlantic jetstream has been powerful and mostly westerly

This coming week, Arctic air from Svalbard briefly encounters Tropical air from the Bahamas over Europe.  Remarkably, how cold it gets here in the UK and Europe might depend on the story of a sub-tropical storm over the Atlantic just as much as the Arctic air trying to push south.

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pressure is high over the Pole

Pressure has built over the Arctic, nudging cold air uncertainly south into European mid-latitudes.  The build in Polar pressure and relative fall in mid-latitude pressure is called a negative Arctic Oscillation as mentioned in previous posts.  The pattern is already cool because the jetstream is to our south.  The jetstream axis essentially divides the warm tropical air to the south from the cool polar air to the north.

zonal flow with powerful jetstream

westerly flow with powerful jetstream

However, the flow has been mostly westerly and even SW across Southern Britain as the jetstream is blowing purposefully from west to east across the Atlantic.  While pressure remains relatively high over parts of Europe (e.g. Med and Spain), the coldest air has been unable to penetrate very far south.  The jetstream chart above shows the unstable flow we have had this weekend bringing heavy thundery showers, some with hail, over Reigate. Check this pic of mammatus clouds this afternoon over Surrey, after thundery showers with hail.

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mammatus clouds over Brockham, Surrey

 

2016-01-10_19-15-43

cool LOW over UK, south westerlies in the south

It has been cool because the air has been circulating anticlockwise around a deep low over Scotland with a cold source region over Scandinavia. However, the airmass has been modified with a long track over the Atlantic. With such a strong zonal jetstream the more frigid Arctic air has not been able to penetrate far south into Europe, yet.

An unusual sub-tropical storm developed in the Bahamas last week over a very warm Gulf Stream.  This low pressure will come to hover in the Mid-Atlantic this week and it might just hold the key to unlocking some more Arctic air over Europe.

2016-01-10_09-58-03

300hpa shallow trough enter left

A part of the sub-tropical system is forecast to cross into Europe mid-week courtesy of a trough disruption.  This causes a part of the trough to break away and leave the parent “cut-off” in the mid ocean.

low rides jet coat tails into Europe

low rides jet coat tails into Europe

In this case, a small but vigorous “baby” LOW will ride off on the right entrance of the jetstream, a good location for deepening surface pressure, and enter Europe via the Bay of Biscay sometime on Wednesday.

disrupted trough enters Europe

disrupted trough enters Europe

Whilst this vigorous baby low will not impact the UK directly, it is set to lower pressure over Europe and, in its wake, will drag in Arctic air more purposefully SOUTH across more of the continent right to the Mediterranean.  This wind will be significant and create the first proper wintry feel for about three years with wind chill on occasions down to -7C or lower.

Importantly, the trough disruption will also build pressure in the Atlantic to the north of the sequestered parent LOW.  This is often the case in trough disruptions.

builds Atlantic high and lowers pressure in Europe

builds Atlantic high and lowers pressure in Europe

The increasing the pressure gradient in the Atlantic and lower pressure in Europe will push more Arctic air more purposefully south across the UK and into Europe. So the sub-tropical system has been key to unlocking the full Arctic blast!

Details about snow for Reigate will be updated this week.  At this stage heavy snow settling here looks unlikely but some snow fall and wintry showers are certainly possible, especially later mid-week.  It will get gradually colder through to the end of the week.  Thereafter it is, of course, uncertain! The ECM has been performing better as a model than the GFS so, on that basis, continuing cold is more likely than a sudden return to mild westerlies, which the gfs tends to do too quickly. So assume it’ll stay cold into next weekend.

2016-01-10_19-18-11

 

2016-01-05_20-38-55

GEFS cool dip mid January

A cold snap looks more likely next week from around 13 January. Nothing extreme, just a long-overdue “normal” wintry feel is on the cards.

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12Z gefs and ecm ensembles show more distinct dip in temps

 

2016-01-05_20-52-09

ECMWF upper air goes cold

Temperatures are due to take a dip below the seasonal norm.  It’s still a way off so details will change but here’s the current idea moving ahead.

2016-01-05_21-19-27

The current run of wet Atlantic westerlies (above) that has brought flooding to many parts of the country, is due to weaken as pressure rises over the Atlantic and further north over the Pole.   As the persistent Atlantic LOW pressure gradually moves East this week it will bring more rain across the UK.  As it moves further east over the weekend it is forecast to draw down cooler northerly winds from the Arctic next week, at least for a while. (see below). (update: “Atlantic block” noted on chart below is probably overstating it a bit … as HIGH is likely to give way fairly promptly)

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2016-01-05_21-04-00

Arctic Oscillation goes negative january 2016

The cause of this Arctic outbreak is indicated by the Arctic Oscillation (AO) going negative.  The AO is a measure of air pressure over the Pole relative to mid-latitudes.  It has been positive for most of the autumn and winter so far and this usually means a strong jetstream and mild wet westerlies for the UK.

When the AO goes negative it indicates building pressure over the Pole and more likelihood of Arctic air “leaking” into mid-latitudes.  The chart below shows the 500mb mean heights for 8-10 days time.  Spot the anomalously high pressure over the Pole relative to the mid-latitudes.

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8-10 day mean 500mb heights (ecm and gfs models)

The negative AO has been predicted by many expert long range forecasters for a long time partly because of a lack of sea ice in the Kara Sea (part of the Arctic Ocean near Siberia).  This is a long-term indicator for potential pressure rises in this region.

2016-01-05_21-50-05

In addition, the recent enormous pump of warm air, courtesy of the Storm Frank, will have encouraged tropospheric height rises over the Pole.  The result is an inflating balloon of relatively cold air waiting to pop into the populated mid-latitudes!

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surface temperature anomalies Jan 14 2016

As well as a push of cooler Arctic air, pressure is also due to rise over the UK.  With increased pressure we can thankfully expect a drier period.

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wintry pressure rise

A classic winter high might be expected to bring dry, bright clear days with cold nights with views of the stars.  On the other hand, frost, fog and icy conditions might also be expected too.  In the SE huge dumps of snow look most unlikely next week from current model runs but lows can move south in the Arctic flow and cause unexpected events. The duration of the cold snap doesn’t look long** as the Atlantic HIGH is swept away by more westerlies.  However, this is uncertain so stay tuned for more regular updates on twitter.  Of course, seek professional forecasts for decision making purposes.

update 06/01 **looking potentially more prolonged now. cold snap turning into a spell.2016-01-05_20-55-31

January 2016 cold snap

2015-16 winter forecasts have long considered the possibility of cold weather in the latter stages from Jan thru to feb. This was explored in a post here

https://rgsweather.com/2015/12/29/winter-is-nigh/

2015-09-18_19-00-43

run reigate weekend wins out for a great day

The second annual Run Reigate half marathon and 10km race on Sunday is a major event for the town.  Happily the weather looks PERFECT for both runners and spectators!

A ridge of HIGH pressure is building in as the trough which brought a few sharp showers this afternoon moves off NE. So we expect no rain at all this weekend.

A beautifully settled early autumn weekend is expected.  Cool nights at Tmin 10C with some autumnal mist early morning are likely.  Days will brighten up in sunshine to reach possibly Tmax 20C in the afternoon.

Light winds and little cloud will be appreciated by runners and spectators. The outlook is for unsettled cooler than average conditions to gradually return on Monday and into next week with rain at times as Atlantic fronts progress across the country with low pressure. Further ahead there is a chance of a warmer and drier end to September as a Scandinavian high builds to the east.

2015-09-18_18-50-09

outlook shows a fortunately settled weekend for Run Reigate