Through the rest of today the picture is pretty much as per yesterday’s prediction i.e. rather windy with scattered showers of rain, hail, sleet or snow, these mainly affecting Lancashire and Cumbria. Any sleet/snow within the showers is likely to descend to increasingly lower levels as the day progresses with slight accumulations possible at higher levels. A Yellow Warning for snow is already in force until 0300 tomorrow morning for the whole of the region http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/
Our main period of concern in the next 24 hours will be later this evening and overnight when an area of more persistent rain, sleet and
snow looks set to transfer eastwards across a good part of Cumbria, accompanied by strengthening west to southwesterly winds which could gust up to 60-70mph along exposed coasts and on higher level routes.
Some of the precipitation could turn heavy for a time this evening and with snow potentially descending to quite low levels (100-200m) and settling for a time, particularly this side of midnight, some disruption to travel may ensue. Add in the winds and there exists the potential for something approaching blizzard conditions for a time on the higher trunk routes (M6, A66, A6) as well as other key high-level roads (A686, A592, A689 etc.) as well as the Lakeland passes. With this in mind the Yellow snow warning is being upgraded to Amber across much of inland Cumbria. I will update Cumbrian responders as and when the revised warning is issued.
Conditions should improve later tonight as the precipitation dies away and slightly milder air encourages any low-lying snow to thaw.
And so to Wednesday and Thursday which look like being broadly similar with a mixture of bright/sunny intervals and occasional showers. By this time wintry precipitation should be confined mostly to land above 300m hence no major resilience issues are anticipated on these days.
Now to developments for Thursday night and Friday. Yesterday I commented how problematic predicting the track and intensity of this system was proving to be. So it continues. The latest Met Office forecast has now come much more into line with the other computer models that we routinely compare ours against (the Americans, French, Europeans, Japanese) and has dramatically altered its prognosis by taking a less intense low pressure system on a track much further south than previously. At this point pretty much all the forecasts are ‘singing’ from the same hymn sheet which increases our confidence somewhat in the eventual outcome. This would be good news for the northwest with a much-reduced likelihood of any damaging winds and much less rain in to the bargain too. However, there is still time for the forecast to ‘flip’ back and for the low to revert back to a more northerly path, hence a strong note of caution is urged but the latest signs are at least encouraging. One knock-on effect of the revised forecast is that today’s Flood Guidance Statement no longer has Lancashire and Cumbria at Yellow (low flood risk) for Thu/Fri.
Beyond Friday there is a consistent signal for colder northwesterly winds to set in for much of the weekend bringing wintry showers to a
good part of the region (risk of some snow settling, mainly but perhaps not exclusively at higher levels) and an ongoing overnight risk of ice, especially inland. Hence still the potential for some winter resilience issues as we hit the weekend.
Updated: The Amber Warning for snow has now been placed on the website, valid till 10:00 tomorrow morning and suggests accumulations of 10cm+ possible at higher levels later this eveving with risk of temporary blizzard conditions as winds strengthen.
Regarding the Thursday night/Friday situation, the Yellow Alert for wind is being maintained across the region for the time being so as not to induce a false sense of security, bearing in mind what I said earlier about the possibility of the forecast flipping back to a more
It will be reviewed again tomorrow in the light of the latest forecast.
Alan Goodman; Met Office Regional Advisor – NW England