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April 2013

View our older posts from The AA Special Operations Response Team (AASORT) and expert meteorologist Matthew Hugo.

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April blog posts

Monday, 29 April, 10am

A Mixed Week Ahead

With April essentially done and dusted attention turns to May, a month which often brings the first significantly warm and summer-like weather of the year.

This week will see some fine and settled conditions at times, but the wait continues for any significant warmth in many areas.

The week is forecast to start on a cool and showery note as low pressure situated to the north-east brings a mixture of sunshine and showers across many areas on a cool and blustery north-westerly wind which will be strong across many northern and western areas.

Showers could be heavy into the afternoon with a risk of thunder locally across Scotland and Northern England. Showers will generally be more scattered further south.

By the middle of the week high pressure is expected to become increasingly influential bringing finer and more settled conditions to most areas apart from Scotland.

Further low pressure systems are forecast to move across Scotland between Tuesday and Thursday bringing showers and longer spells of rain at times, with further windy conditions as well.

For the majority of the UK and especially for England and Wales high pressure (1024mb to 1028mb) will lead to a settled period of weather between Tuesday and Thursday with bright or sunny spells by day but chilly nights for early May with a continued risk of frost in rural areas.

Whilst it will feel pleasantly warm in the sunshine, daytime temperatures will still only be around average with highs ranging between 12C and 15C.

Unfortunately the fine and settled conditions won’t last, with the forecast models all signaling increasingly unsettled conditions returning on Friday, setting the scene for a cool and unsettled Bank Holiday Weekend at the moment.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 26 April, 9am

A chilly weekend – rain and showers at times

The final weekend of April will be dominated by winds from not a particularly warm source. During Saturday high pressure located to the west of the UK will combine with lower pressure to the east to produce a rather chilly north or north-easterly wind, before this becomes more west or north-westerly into Sunday as low pressure approaches. So the weekend as a whole is looking particularly cool for late April with maximum temperatures generally ranging between 8C and 12C and often unsettled with it, but let’s take a closer look at both days.

Saturday will begin on quite a chilly note with a potential ground frost across many inland areas, something for gardeners to be aware of. A mixture of sunshine and April showers are expected for many areas on Saturday and some of the showers could remain quite heavy across England and Wales into the afternoon. In contrast a temporary ridge of high pressure building in to Scotland, Ireland and Northern England during the afternoon will lead to a reduction in the frequency of the showers and northern and western areas of the UK are likely to have a mainly dry and bright end to the day, but with cloud increasing from the north-west. Saturday night, especially for central and southern areas of the UK, will be a cold night with a widespread ground and air frost expected with temperatures locally down to -3C or -4C across rural areas of Wales, Midlands and Southern England which is quite low for the time of year.

Sunday starts dry and frosty for many southern areas but a developing area of low pressure to the north of the UK will have an associated weather front associated with it and this is forecast to move down across the UK through the day. As a result a wet and windy start is expected for Scotland, Ireland and Northern England with a spell of rain for a time and this then clearing to sunshine and blustery showers and these perhaps wintry on hills of Scotland. The rain isn't expected to reach southern and south-eastern areas until well into the afternoon, so south-east England for example may well have a predominantly dry day after a distinctly chilly start.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Thursday, 25 April, 14.30pm

Messing around on the river

What a great week for being outdoors on a training course; As many of you will know already the majority of the people in AA SORT are certified swiftwater rescue technicians (SRTs), trained by the same people who train the RNLI and many fire service teams.

We have another group of people going through a training course in North Wales this week and by all accounts they are doing really well and having a lot of fun (sssh don’t tell the management). We put the team through the SRT qualification as this course complies with Defra Module 3 content requirements and for many years has been seen as the ‘benchmark’ training course for swiftwater and flood rescue teams.

AA SORT in Training in Bala

The course includes:

  • Water and flood dynamics and hazards
  • Introduction to technical rescue equipment
  • Hazard identification & risk assessment
  • Introduction to rope systems and equipment
  • Swimming in moving water
  • Medical considerations
  • Basic boat-handling skills
  • Pre-planning and incident size up
  • Conditional & true rescue techniques
  • Shallow water techniques
  • Search operations
  • Casualty management

Wednesday, 24 April, 11am

Unsettled in the north, warm in the south – colder by Friday

Weather map

The changeable weather of late is set to continue throughout the remainder of the week with a variety of weather types forecast to be in evidence. One of the first is a spell of wet weather across Central and Northern areas of the UK, particularly across parts of Southern Scotland and down into Northern England as a series of frontal systems moves across this area of the UK throughout the next 24 to 48hrs bringing some persistent rainfall at times. At the moment a general 10mm to 20mm is possible quite widely within the highlighted region, but up to 20mm to 30mm is possible. Whilst locally over an inch of rainfall may be possible, no severe or widespread disruption is expected from heavy rain.

To the South of these weather fronts quite a warm air mass exists across Central and Southern areas of England with temperatures today (Wednesday) and into Thursday both generally above average with maximum temperatures across South-east England for example ranging between 17C and 20C, so a warm couple of day’s is expected to continue for Southern areas. However, the end of the week then sees a big change in temperatures. Low pressure is forecast to move down into the UK during Friday and into Saturday bringing with it a markedly cooler, if not colder, North or North-westerly wind. As a result temperatures are forecast to drop quite rapidly during Friday and with maximum temperatures only ranging between 8C and 12C generally and with the risk of some wintry precipitation across Northern hills along with the risk of some overnight frosts as well to end the week.

So enjoy the warmth over the next day or so across the South as the end of the week will deliver some very late chilly conditions and a generally cool, if not rather cold theme is currently forecast to continue into the coming weekend. More details on the weekend, as usual, by Friday.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 22 April, 9am

A changeable week ahead

The coming week will produce some rather varied and changeable conditions across the UK as some unsettled conditions are expected across northern areas in particular, whilst more southern areas are often dry and relatively warm, at least for most of the week.

The week starts on a mild and damp note as frontal systems associated with low pressure to the north-west of the UK continue to move across many areas during today (Monday) and produce some outbreaks of rain and drizzle in places, but without producing any significant rainfall. Tuesday will experience similar conditions with a continued mild and moist west or south-westerly air mass across most areas given that lower pressure will be dominant to the north of UK, as high pressure remains influential just to the south. As a result some further patchy light rain or drizzle is possible across western hills and up-slopes, but generally the day is forecast to be dry with some bright spells, particularly for southern and eastern areas of England where it will feel mild.

A general north and south divide then develops during the middle of the week with a set of frontal systems set to cross parts of Ireland, Scotland and Northern England during Wednesday and also into Thursday. This is forecast to bring a zone of wet weather with rain and showers to the areas mentioned. At the moment no extreme rainfall totals are anticipated, but parts of Southern Scotland and Northern England may experience 15mm to 25mm of rain over the course of Wednesday and into Thursday.

The end of the week is then set to see a change nationwide in terms of temperatures. Low pressure is forecast to become dominant across many areas of the UK to end the week at the moment and bringing sunshine and April showers to many areas, these heavy and perhaps thundery at times. However, of significance will be the introduction of a cooler, if not colder, north or north-westerly wind which will also continue into the forth coming weekend. As a result the end of the week will see a drop in temperatures to below average and feeling distinctly chilly for late April with perhaps the risk of some overnight frosts as well.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 19 April, 10am

A weekend of two halves

After some particularly active weather over the last few days from heavy rain leading to some localised flooding and also some very strong winds affecting parts of Northern England in particular, the coming weekend will generally be quieter but also produce two contrasting days.

A ridge of high pressure building into the UK through the rest of today (Friday) will continue to remain influential into Saturday across many areas. With atmospheric pressure set to rise up to and over 1030mb across parts of England and Wales on Saturday, then predominantly dry and fine conditions will dominate. Bright or sunny spells are expected across many areas of the UK, but again particularly so across England and Wales. It should be noted that a rather chilly start to Saturday is expected with perhaps a patchy frost in places.

A change then takes place overnight on Saturday and through into Sunday as the high pressure declines away into the near Continent and once again we look towards the Atlantic for further weather fronts and low pressure systems. A weather front moving into the UK later in the day on Saturday will bring some rain or showers and a strengthening south-westerly wind across many northern and western areas overnight on Saturday and this weather front will then slowly move south and east during Sunday. It should be noted that many south-eastern areas of England are likely to remain mainly dry until very late in the day on Sunday by which any rain or showers will be light and patchy anyway. But for many northern and western areas on Sunday a cool day is to be expected with some rain or showers at times.

So Saturday, for most areas, is definitely the best day of the weekend with some pleasant spring sunshine and temperatures near or perhaps just slightly below average, before increasingly unsettled conditions return during Sunday and also continue into Monday as well.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Wednesday, 17 April, 12.30pm

Rescue 3 Europe Technical Rescue Conference 2013

The AA’s severe weather team, AA Special Operations, are attending the Rescue 3 Europe Technical Rescue Conference 2013 today in Cardiff

AA SORT in Training in Bala

The conference uniquely combines world-class speakers, a trade exhibition featuring manufacturers and distributors of the world's leading technical rescue equipment, and practical instructor update workshops. Amongst other topics, SORT managers Darron Burness and John Seymour will hear presentations on Tactical Flood Management, Water Quality and the Water incident database review (WAID)

The speakers include:

  • Alex Hanson (Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service) - Chairperson
  • Shannon Crofton (NSW State Emergency Services, Australia)
  • Roy Harold (CFOA Water Rescue Lead)
  • Professor David Kay (Aberystwyth University)
  • Stuart Blatston (South Western Ambulance Service HART)
  • David Walker (ROSPA)

Wednesday, 17 April, 10am

Very wet and windy at first – increasingly settled later

Another noteworthy area of low pressure will dominate the weather across many areas of the UK throughout the next 24 to 36hrs. This area of low pressure is forecast to bring not only heavy and persistent rainfall but also some very strong winds as well to parts of the north and west of the UK in particular.

Weather map

Starting with the precipitation and a general 15mm to 25mm of rainfall is expected quite widely across Scotland, Ireland and Northern England throughout Wednesday and into Thursday. However, it is across parts of Ireland and up into west and south-west Scotland that in excess of 40mm to 50mm of rainfall is possible by the end of Thursday, which is 2 inches or perhaps more. As a result there is a risk of flooding in association with these precipitation totals along with the risk of some travel disruption and I have highlighted which areas are at greatest risk of heavy and disruptive rainfall on the associated image in red and with a lower risk across the areas highlighted yellow

Weather map

The second cause for concern is the development of some very strong winds across the southern flank of the low pressure later today and overnight into Thursday across Ireland, Irish Sea coastal areas and across into Southern Scotland, North Wales and Northern England. At the moment a ‘core’ of gale force winds are forecast to develop across these regions this evening and peak between midnight and 6am on Thursday at the present time. Sustained wind speeds of between 35mph and 45mph are distinctly likely, but the wind gusts may well exceed 60mph at times, especially across coasts and hills. Some travel disruption may take place and there may also be a risk of some slight structural damage in places. I have highlighted which areas are at greatest risk of the strong winds this evening and overnight on the associated image

Unsettled and very windy conditions with further rain or showers are then likely to continue well into Thursday, particularly for northern areas. However and fortunately, a building ridge of high pressure is then forecast to bring about a totally different type of weather to end the week and produce far more settled conditions for many areas. As a result Friday and into the weekend for most of the UK will see a rapid improvement in conditions with bright or sunny spells across many areas and some pleasant spells of spring sunshine. So whilst the short term may well be particularly inclement, towards the end of the week a marked improvement in the weather is to be expected.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 15 April, 8.30am

Unsettled week ahead – especially in the north and west

After many weeks of cold conditions the weather has most certainly and finally changed, and we are now experiencing more of an Atlantic influence to our weather, where Atlantic low pressure systems move into the UK off the Atlantic in association with west or south-westerly winds. A theme that will continue through this week.

Weather map

Of particular concern in the short term is the development of another area of low pressure approaching from the south-west later today (Monday) and through into Tuesday. This vigorous area of low pressure is forecast to pass just to the west of Ireland overnight and be centered very close to western Scotland into Tuesday. As a result a spell of wet and particularly windy conditions is forecast for some northern and western areas.  Areas highlighted red are at risk of a general 15mm to 25mm of rain, perhaps with locally higher totals but more significantly winds in excess of 50mph are possible, perhaps with gusts over 60mph across coasts and hills of west and south-west Scotland into Tuesday and with a lower risk of heavy rain and strong winds across the areas in yellow.

The unsettled theme is set to continue for most of the week as well.  Another developing area of low pressure is forecast to move up from the south-west once again during Wednesday and this will bring a renewed risk of heavy rain and strong winds to many northern and western areas – another 20mm to 30mm of rainfall is possible in places across parts of Scotland and Ireland during the middle of the week.  There remains some uncertainty over the details of this weather system, but mid-week does look unsettled for many areas, especially the north and west.

The end of the week is forecast to see a slow improvement in conditions.  Wednesday’s low pressure system is expected to clear away to the north-east during Thursday and leave in its wake a cooler, showery west or north-westerly air mass across many areas.  Some of the showers could be heavy on Thursday and it will remain windy across northern areas in particular.

During Friday a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build into the UK and this will signal an increasingly settled end to the week, with settled conditions expected to continue into the coming weekend.

So, as you can see a very changeable and ‘active’ period of weather is expected throughout this week.

Usual updates to follow through the week.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Thursday, 11 April, 4pm

Turning much milder but also wet and windy

The weather through the rest of the week and into the coming weekend will generally become dominated by low pressure. However, and finally, a significant change in wind direction will lead to the development of much milder conditions across many areas of the UK over the weekend. Before then however the end of the week ends on a rather showery note, with some April showers expected for many areas of England and Wales in particular. Latest model data is showing the risk of some heavy and perhaps localised thundery showers during Friday afternoon across parts of central and southern areas of England. I have highlighted which areas are at greatest risk of thunder, in yellow on the following image.

Weather map

The coming weekend will see a deepening North Atlantic depression become dominant to the west of the UK and this will be quite a vigorous area of low pressure. What the low pressure will do though is combine with higher pressure to the south-east to produce a very mild, if not warm south or south-westerly air mass across England and Wales in particular. At the moment maximum temperatures ranging between 9C and 13C are forecast across northern and western areas of the UK over the weekend, but between 14C and 19C further south and particularly so across south-east England on Sunday. So, finally, some spring warmth will be in evidence, but this is only half of the story. A particularly wet and windy spell of weather is expected for many northern and western areas of the UK over the weekend with some heavy rain and gales likely across Scotland and Ireland in particular. A lower risk of some heavy rain and strong winds extends further east into Northern England and I have highlighted the areas at greatest risk of some heavy rain and strong or gale force winds in red.

Weather map

Within the red area up to and over 20mm to 30mm of rainfall is possible, especially across the hills of west and south-west Scotland and winds gusting up to 50mph to 60mph are possible. So, whilst it may well feel markedly milder this weekend for many, across northern and western areas in particular this will be offset by some particularly wet and windy conditions. For those across southern and particularly south-east England though a real taste of spring is to be expected over the weekend.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Tuesday, 9 April, 4pm

Turning north Wales AA yellow

We are here in North Wales to take part in Exercise Berwyn, a multi agency flooding exercise around the Bala area in Gwynedd.

AA SORT arrive at Canolfan Tryweryn, nr Bala

AA SORT are providing 16 Swiftwater Rescue Technicians, our specially adapted Land Rovers and a water rescue raft. We are a small part of a large exercise undertaking simulated flood rescues in challenging conditions.

Other participating agencies include Wales Inland Water and Flood Rescue Group, including all three Fire and Rescue Services in Wales, North Wales Police, the RNLI, RAF Search and Rescue, Natural Resources Wales, Gwynedd Council, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, the RSPCA, Severn Area Rescue Association, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and North Wales Mountain Rescue Association.

Stay tuned here and on our Twitter account @AASORT for more information.

Darron Burness, Head of AA Special Operations

Tuesday, 9 April, 10am

AA helps ensure best flood response in Wales

  • Major simulated flooding exercise in Wales, 9-10 April
  • Designed to learn from recent flooding incidents and to test emergency response
  • Supported by Welsh Government and featuring emergency responders across Wales
  • AA contributing sixteen flood rescue crew, Land Rovers and rescue raft

The AA’s severe weather team, AA Special Operations, is taking part in a major training exercise designed to test emergency flood response in Wales.

AA SORT in Training in Bala

The event (Exercise Berwyn) takes place in Bala, Gwynedd, today and tomorrow (9-10 April) led by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and supported by the Welsh Government. It involves all the emergency services and other responders, including among others HM Coastguard, Natural Resources Wales, Gwynedd County Council, RAF Search and Rescue, Mountain Rescue and RNLI.

The AA has been involved from the initial planning stages last year and is contributing two eight-crew specialist flood rescue teams, Land Rovers and rescue raft. The exercise will involve dealing with rescuing trapped casualties, carrying out fast-flowing water rescues and deploying an array of flood rescue equipment and personnel.

Darron Burness, the AA’s Head of Special Operations, says: “The consequences of flooding can be huge – threatening homes, livelihoods and even lives – and it’s a growing risk in Wales and across the rest of the UK. After one of the wettest years on record, there’s never been a better time for a multi-agency response working together to help those affected by flooding.”

Monday, 8 April, 9.30am

Increasingly unsettled – remaining rather cold

After many weeks of persistently cold conditions due to high pressure to the north of the UK, a change in weather patterns is and will continue to take place through this coming week. Atlantic low pressure systems will finally get an opportunity to become more dominant and bring a far more unsettled spell of weather across the UK then experienced for some considerable time.

The opening few days of the week will generally experience a north and south split in conditions. Many central and southern areas of the UK will be at risk of overcast conditions with outbreaks of rain or showers becoming increasingly widespread through the rest of today (Monday) and into Tuesday. Some locally heavy rainfall is possible across parts of southern counties of England at times, but at the moment no problems are to be expected from heavy or disruptive rainfall. Many northern areas of the UK will remain somewhat drier and brighter but with a cold east or south-easterly wind developing. Some wintry precipitation does remain possible for Scotland and Northern England at times on Monday and into Tuesday but nothing significant or disruptive is expected.

During Wednesday and Thursday another area of low pressure developing to the south-west of the UK is forecast to make a more significant movement northwards across the UK. As a result during Wednesday and into Thursday more extensive outbreaks of rain or showers are expected to progress northwards into Northern England and perhaps Scotland as well. A rather cold air mass is forecast to persist here so some of the rain may turn to sleet and wet snow across the hills of Northern England during Thursday, but at the moment no significant or disruptive snowfall is to be expected. By Friday, at the moment, a rather cold and showery north or north-westerly wind is forecast across many areas of the UK.

So, in summary, a far more unsettled and ‘typical’ spell of April weather is forecast across the UK with outbreaks of rain and showers becoming increasingly widespread, particularly so by the middle of the week and into Thursday with perhaps some strong winds at times. Given that temperatures will generally remain below average, especially from the Midlands northwards then some wintry precipitation will remain possible across northern hills and there may also be some icy patches locally as well across northern areas of the UK. The wait goes on for some proper spring-like weather.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 5 April, 9.30am

Settled weekend, but remaining cold

The cold conditions are still forecast to continue into the first weekend of April, but it should feel somewhat milder than of late as winds become much lighter across many areas of the UK. Throughout the majority of the coming weekend high pressure is forecast to build into the UK and bring predominantly fine and settled conditions. Some bright or sunny spells are expected by day, but with further frosts by night beneath any clear skies and some localised fog patches may also develop. Again, given lighter winds and some sunshine it should feel a little milder than of late, but still, temperatures remain at least 2C or 3C below average for the time of year at least.

The long awaited change in the expected weather is still forecast to take place into next week as more unsettled conditions (low pressure) move in off the North Atlantic. As a result after some particularly quiet and benign weather of late a progression towards far more unsettled conditions with showers, longer spells of rain and perhaps strong winds are expected into next week. Unfortunately temperatures don’t recovery immediately and as a result an unpleasant start to next week is expected given continued cold temperatures combining with the increasingly wet and windy conditions. However, there are signs temperatures will begin to approach nearer average values the further we progress through next week.

So, if you like the cold and predominantly sunny conditions then make the most of the coming weekend, as next week’s weather will be markedly different as we finally see the arrival of some Atlantic-orientated weather in the form of low pressure systems. More on this on Monday of next week taking the usual look at the week ahead…

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Tuesday, 2 April, 9.30am

Remaining cold, but signs of a change

The start of April hasn’t heralded a change in the weather and many areas of the UK, whilst predominantly dry, remain cold for the time of year. Clearly the data has become official and March 2013 was the coldest March month in just over 50 years with a persistent cold, blocked weather pattern that brought well below average temperatures, frequent frosts and ice and also some significant snowfall at times.

The opening week of April will maintain the cold theme and that is forecast to continue throughout the rest of this coming week. High pressure remains an influential feature just to the north of the UK and will continue to combine with lower pressure to the south of the UK to maintain a cold easterly air mass across most areas. Many areas will continue to be dry throughout the rest of the week with some bright or sunny spells by day but with a continued risk of widespread frosts by night, with some further moderate or locally severe frosts possible across rural areas of Scotland and Northern England. Over the last few days the winds have generally been light, but unfortunately the easterly wind will become fresh or even locally strong to end the week across England and Wales. As a result a significant wind-chill factor will return.

The easterly flow may still bring a few wintry flurries to parts of the east of the UK throughout the rest of the week but as with previous day’s these will not amount to much and no significant or disruptive snowfall is to be expected. The question on everyone’s mind is; When will the weather change?...Well the answer to that is beyond the opening week of April.

At the moment various forecast models maintain the colder theme into the coming weekend, but a complete pattern change is forecast to develop into early next week as we finally, after many weeks, lose high pressure to the north of the UK and it is replaced by lower pressure developing to the west and north-west. As a result a generally more unsettled but milder weather pattern is forecast to develop from approximately the 8th and 9th of April onwards. Precipitation is likely to be heaviest and most frequent across northern and western areas of the UK, whilst southern areas remain drier.

So, after many weeks of persistently cold and wintry conditions, the end is in sight and beyond the forth coming weekend a change in the weather will take place as northern blocking and cold continental winds are replaced by milder, but generally more unsettled conditions from the Atlantic.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

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