Below-average temperatures to last all week, forecasters warn

A cold spell affecting much of the UK is due to continue, with temperatures expected to remain slightly below average into next week, the Met Office has said.

Temperatures will stay in single digits across the UK in the coming days, with rain, sleet and snow expected in parts.

Colder weather is also expected at the end of the month, as sudden warming in the stratosphere moves down into our atmosphere.

Met Office spokeswoman Nicola Maxey told the PA news agency: “This cold spell will last certainly this week and into next week, although we should see a little bit of recovering temperatures as we start next week.

“By the time we get to Friday, we’re starting to see the chance that things might warm up a bit, but we’re still looking at 3C (37.4F) or 4C (39.2F) for London with isolated areas perhaps seeing 6C (42.8F).”

Leeds will see temperatures of around 4C (39.2F), while parts of Scotland will hover around freezing in the daytime.

Ms Maxey continued: “Temperatures are a little bit below average for January. I think by the time we get to mid-month we’re probably going to see those temperatures move closer to the average for this kind of year.”

Persistent rain is expected in the South East, with between 0.2in (5mm) and 0.6in (15mm) set to fall over two days.

Some parts of the UK may also see sleet and snow, though it will largely stay on higher ground.

Ms Maxey said: “We may see the odd flurry down to lower levels, particularly in the North East, maybe the North West depending on what day you’re looking at, but certainly any snow to lower levels will be quite transient really and not last very long.

She added that the South East could also see some snow on Thursday and Friday, but “if it happens, it won’t stay around for long”.

“A half a degree difference in temperature can make the difference between snow and rain, so snow is one of those things that’s difficult to be prescriptive about too far out.”

Winter weather Jan 4th 2021
Winter weather Jan 4th 2021

Met Office meteorologists are tracking two weather events that may affect the conditions the UK faces over the coming weeks – a La Nina, which would likely bring wet and stormy weather, and sudden stratospheric warming, associated with very cold weather.

Ms Maxey continued: “You’ve got the two events happening at the same time so they vie against each other in a sense.

“They’re sort of fighting for influence over the UK, we’re a very small dot in the middle of the ocean.”

Sudden stratospheric warming in 2018 brought the heavy snow termed the Beast from the East; however, Ms Maxey said the event is more likely to bring more cold weather without heavy snow, though it is difficult to predict.

“The feeling at the moment is that we may see some colder weather towards the end of January into February, but probably the sort of weather that we’re seeing at the moment, as opposed to what is popularly perceived as a Beast from the East,” she said.