Emergency blog archive

December 2012

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

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December blog posts

Monday 31 December, 12pm

A happy New Year from the AA SORT team

Happy New Year

With flood warnings having been a constant theme over the past few weeks, it's reassuring to hear the UK's on track for drier if colder weather early into the New Year.

For the latest weather advice, see Matt Hugo's blog.

For the latest information, follow us on Twitter (@AASORT). If you're travelling tonight, tips can be found on our festive travel advice page.

Enjoy the celebrations and from everyone here at the AA, we wish you a very happy New Year.

The AA SORT team

Monday 31 December, 9am

A change of year and a change of weather

Well there goes 2012 and without question it will remembered, primarily, for the amount of rainfall that has fallen across the country throughout the year and the distinct lack of any summer weather.

Christams weather

The last day of 2012 will follow suit right to the end with further wet and windy weather spreading across the country.

This is then forecast to be followed by a change to colder and showery conditions on New Year’s Day with perhaps some wintry precipitation and icy patches in the north.

I have highlighted which areas are at risk of further heavy rain and flooding through today on the images, and also the areas at risk of some wintry precipitation and icy patches into New Year's Day, Scotland being at primary risk.

Opening week of January

As we progress into the opening week of January a marked change in the weather is then set to take place as high pressure becomes increasingly influential.

As a result the risk of heavy rain and flooding is forecast to decrease markedly as generally drier than average conditions develop. This doesn't mean it will be dry everywhere and some patchy rain and drizzle remains a possibility across parts of the north and west of the UK.

However the trend into the first week of 2013 and also beyond the opening week of the New Year is for predominantly settled, dry but rather cloudy and mild conditions to become dominant.

Happy New Year to all readers!

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 24 December 2012, 11.30am

Merry Christmas from the AA SORT Team

Merry Christmas

So, 2012 has thrown just about every extreme of weather at us at some point. From spring snow in the Peak District to gale force winds and month upon month of heavy rain and floods.

It's been a very busy year for the company and specifically AA SORT.

We've assisted hundreds of people at the roadside, trained up more people in swiftwater rescue/4x4 operations and worked alongside other agencies as part of multi-agency responses to flooding and mountain rescue searches.

It's been a busy but enjoyable year and we look forward to the challenges and developments of 2013! We'd like to wish you all a VERY merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year!

For the latest on our actions over the festive break follow us on Twitter over @AASORT

The Special Operations Response Team

Monday, 24 December 2012, 9am

Christmas weather – what’s in store?

The Christmas period is always a busy time for travelling and clearly with the heavy rain and floods that are predicted, this could be a difficult time for travelling. However, there are subtle signs of a change in conditions which may bring a brief respite from the persistently wet conditions.

With Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just around the corner the weather does look as though it will remain unsettled, but with subtle differences. Through the course of Christmas Day in particular an area of low pressure is forecast to become located to the north or north-east of the UK and allow for the development of a colder North-westerly air mass across the UK and this trend continues into Boxing Day. As a result after somewhat milder conditions of late and over the coming weekend, the trend is for colder and more seasonal temperatures to develop during Christmas and through the final week of the year, but also with some temporary drier and brighter conditions as well.

At the moment no widespread wintry precipitation is expected, but some sleet and snow showers, particularly on higher ground may develop across parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England later on Christmas Day and into Boxing Day, but these shouldn’t cause too much problem. What may be of concern is that as the colder conditions develop there is then likely to be an increased risk of frost and also some icy patches for the northern half of the UK in particular. Highlighted on the image (in red), the risk of wintry precipitation and icy patches is greatest from Christmas Day until approximately the 27th of December and with a lower risk across the areas shaded yellow.

Christams weather

To end 2012 the weather looks set to remain unsettled with rain and showers never too far away so further flooding may become an issue once again before New Year, but it looks quite cold with it, so some further wintry precipitation and icy conditions may also be of concern for northern areas of the UK in particular.

Have a Merry Christmas to all followers

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 21 December 2012, 3pm

AA breakdown update - weather and transport

  • So far today (as at 15:00), the AA has attended 108 cars driven through or stuck in flood water and around 8,000 breakdowns nationally, currently around 1,000 every hour
  • Potential for significant weather disruption affecting Christmas getaway over weekend
  • Drivers should keep tuned to traffic and weather updates and heed any road closures

The AA’s flood rescue Land Rovers have been kept busy today dealing with the aftermath of yesterday’s flooding. Although the volume of flood-related work is significantly less than yesterday, the AA is braced for a weekend of weather-related disruption with tomorrow (Saturday) being the main concern.

To read more visit our newsroom

Darron Burness, AA's Head of Special Operations

Friday, 21 December 2012, 10.30am

Severe weather alert – Further heavy rain and flooding

As predicated earlier this week a spell of very wet and windy conditions moved across many areas of the UK through Thursday with some large rainfall totals and a subsequent risk of flooding, particularly across parts of Southern and South-western areas of England and parts of Scotland where up to 40mm to 50mm of rainfall was recorded and with locally higher totals.

Unfortunately the coming weekend is forecast to deliver further wet and windy conditions as the weather patterns remain distinctly unsettled. As a result the weekend in general for many areas will often be wet and windy and particularly so on Saturday, of which is the primary cause for concern. At the moment latest forecast model guidance is signalling a widespread risk of precipitation totals between 20mm and 30mm across the UK, this in itself is enough to bring the risk of some localised flooding almost anywhere.

Further Heavy Rain and Flooding

However, of particular concern is the risk of up to 40mm to 50mm once again across parts of Ireland, Wales, Southern and South-western areas of England and also across parts of South-east Scotland and North-east England. These areas, highlighted in red, are at the greatest risk of the largest rainfall totals and which are likely to experience further flooding.

It is of worth to highlight that whilst other areas may not experience such extreme rainfall totals there is still a risk of localised flooding almost anywhere given the broader risk of precipitation totals reaching 20mm to 30mm through Saturday and into Sunday which will combine with particularly saturated surfaces.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Thursday, 20 December 2012, 4pm

AA breakdown update - heavy rain and flash flooding causing widespread disruption on roads

Almost 300 people so far today will now be asking Santa for new cars this Christmas after taking theirs into flood water.

It can take just an eggcup full of water in the combustion chamber to wreck an engine. Why, because water doesn’t compress. So the piston effectively hits a wall when it tries to push down on it, which could bend or break a con rod.

Even if you think your car’s above the flood-line, driving fast through standing water could cause your car and others around you to take in water. That’s because the engine's air intake is low down at the front on many cars.

We’re urging people not to enter flood water at all. As a proportion of our flood-related workload today, the number of vehicles still stuck in water is very high. Please don’t risk your safety and a very expensive repair bill for the sake of using a quick route.

To read more visit our newsroom

Deluged by jobs

Darron Burness, AA's Head of Special Operations

Thursday, 20 December 2012, 12pm

Deluged by flood-water jobs

As of midday today, on top of our normal breakdown workload we have had to help a number of people who have been stranded or stuck in water as part of the floods sweeping up through the south and south-west into the Midlands. Please stay safe and be prepared. See our advice on what to do in heavy rain and floods.

Deluged by jobs

Wherever possible, it's best to avoid going out because:

  • Two feet of standing water will float your car
  • Just one foot of flowing water could be enough to move the average family car
  • Just an egg cupful of water in the combustion chamber could be enough to wreck an engine

Darron Burness, AA's Head of Special Operations

Thursday, 19 December, 6am

Flooding – be prepared

AA SORT crews have been deployed to the south and south-west of England and to south Wales, along with to the central belt of Scotland, in line with all amber warning areas issued from the Met Office today. We will be on hand to assist those caught out by localised flooding and to assist partner agencies where necessary.

Please follow our wet weather driving advice. Do not drive into flood water. It only takes a small quantity of water sucked into the engine to cause serious damage. All engines are affected, but turbo-charged and diesel engines are the most vulnerable.

If your vehicle does cut out in water, please phone your breakdown provider as normal. If, however, you feel there is a danger of risk to life for yourself or any occupants of the vehicle, then contact the emergency services immediately.

Please familiarise yourself with the dangers of flood waters so that you can be best prepared if your area is affected.

Darron Burness, AA's Head of Special Operations

Tuesday, 18 December 2012, 9am

Severe weather alert – Heavy rain and localised flooding

A spell of wet and windy conditions is forecast to develop across many areas of the UK during the middle of the week and into Thursday as an area of low pressure dominates the weather.

A large area of the UK is at risk of experiencing up to 15mm to 25mm of rainfall through the course of Wednesday and Thursday with perhaps more localised flooding in prone areas.

However, there is a clear signal that parts of the south and south-west of the UK and also east and south-east Scotland will experience more significant rainfall totals with a heightened risk of flooding across these areas.

Heavy Rain and Localised Flooding

I have highlighted which areas I believe are at greatest risk of flooding through Wednesday and into Thursday on the map. These areas may well experience up to 40mm to 50mm of rain within 36 to 48hrs through Wednesday and Thursday. Particularly poor driving conditions are expected at times, especially where any localised flooding occurs.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 17 December 2012, 1pm

Special weather statement – increasing risk of flooding

As you may have noticed there has been a recent change in the weather patterns with the recent sunny, cold and dry conditions being replaced by somewhat milder, but also more unsettled conditions.

Taking into account the medium and long-range forecast, the outlook throughout the rest of December is now expected to be focused around low pressure and unsettled conditions across many areas of the UK.

Whilst temperatures may generally be relatively mild, if not very mild at times with little risk of any significant and disruptive winter-related weather, there is however, a increasing risk of flooding.

A cumulative effect is expected to take place that over the next 7 to 14 days as a series of frontal systems and low pressures are forecast to affect the UK bringing spells of wet and windy weather. While it is very difficult to say how much rainfall will fall 7 to 14 days away, the persistent signal for low pressure and unsettled conditions is likely to bring a growing risk of flooding to parts of the UK over the Christmas period and perhaps into the New Year.

Further updates and information will be issued accordingly and specific events will also be discussed where appropriate. But for now get ready for a particularly unsettled latter half of December with often frequent spells of unfortunately wet and windy conditions.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 17 December 2012, 9am

Mixed week ahead

Monday and Tuesday's weather summary

The coming week will generally see a mixed and varied weather type across the UK as some drier and brighter intervals are mixed with showery conditions early in the week, before a particularly wet and windy day develops on Wednesday.

Further showers or longer spells of rain are forecast to affect many areas to end the week, but for now, attention is being focused on the first half of the week.

One primary concern is the risk of some icy patches and also fog on Monday and Tuesday night across more northern areas of the UK. Scotland in particular is at risk and I have highlighted this risk on the image above. A lower risk extends further south into parts of Northern England where again some icy patches and fog may cause some travel disruption locally and this risk may also extend into Northern Ireland.

Monday and Tuesday's weather summary

The other cause for concern is the development of a particularly wet and windy day on Wednesday. An active Atlantic low pressure system and its associated weather fronts are forecast to move north and east across all areas during the day.

At the moment a general 15mm to 25mm of rainfall is possible almost anywhere across the UK on Wednesday, but parts of the west and south-west of the UK may experience up to 40mm with a subsequent risk of flooding.

The areas I believe are at greatest risk of flooding at the moment are in red and with a lower risk across the areas shaded yellow.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 14 December 2012, 2pm

Heavy rain and black ice

"We had monsoon-like rain at times this morning, which has made for some pretty hazardous driving conditions. Black ice compounded problems in many areas as rain fell on frozen ground.

"Before you head off, take a couple of minutes to clean and check all your lights. Either you can get someone to help or reverse up to a wall to check the rear lights.

"While on the road, keep your speed in check, drop back from the vehicle in front and watch out for standing water. If the steering becomes unresponsive due to the rain, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.

"Also if there is any localised flooding, stay out of flood water."

Those in areas at risk of flooding should check the Environment Agency website for the latest information and sign up for free flood warnings on the Environment Agency's website or by calling the Environment Agency Flood Line on 0845 988 1188.

Darron Burness, AA's Head of Special Operations

Thursday, 13 December 2012, 11am

From cold and dry to mild, wet and windy

A marked change in the weather is on the way through Friday and into the coming weekend, with the recent and quite persistent cold and wintry conditions coming to an end. Low pressure within the North Atlantic is forecast to become the driving force of the weather for the foreseeable future.

While temperatures recover to nearer average, a persistent spell of unsettled conditions is likely to deliver rain, showers and strong winds at times.

Friday will be the day of change, with a band of heavy rain and strong winds moving north and east across the UK. At the moment a general 10mm to 20mm of rainfall is possible widely across the UK, but some west, south-west and also north-eastern areas of the UK are at risk of 30mm to 40mm of rainfall through Friday with a localised risk of surface flooding.

I have highlighted the main areas at risk of the heaviest rain on the map. A windy day is forecast as well with strong or gale force winds accompanying the rain which, whilst heavy, should move north quite quickly.

Friday and the weekend's weather summary

The weekend is then dominated by a much milder south or south-westerly air mass, which is forecast to bring a mixture of sunshine and showers to many areas. The most frequent and heaviest showers are expected across northern and western areas of the UK, whilst southern and south-eastern areas generally experience some prolonged drier and brighter intervals. However, no severe or heavy precipitation is expected over the weekend.

All areas of the UK will have temperatures at or slightly above average by the weekend, with the risk of any wintry conditions becoming restricted to the mountains of Scotland.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 10 December 2012, 11am

Sub-zero temps and freezing fog

In association with the weekly overview, it is of worth to place emphasis on the expected overnight temperatures throughout the next few days and also the risk of freezing fog.

Many inland areas of the UK on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night are at risk of temperatures falling below freezing and with parts of the Midlands, northern England and Scotland at risk of temperatures falling below -5C with a subsequent risk of a hard frosts, with potential driving hazards on each morning in particular.

Friday's weather summary

Also of concern is the development of fog and freezing fog over the forthcoming nights. Given the localised and regional nature of fog development it is difficult to say specifically which areas are at risk. However, the graphic highlights where freezing fog is likely to develop on Monday night and into Tuesday.

Similar regions are forecast to be at risk as well in the coming days. Where any fog does develop then very poor visibility is expected and some of the fog may linger all day in places, where this occurs then temperatures are unlikely to rise above 0°C.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 10 December 2012, 9am

A week of two halves

The coming week will definitely be a week or two halves for many areas of the UK. Between Monday and Wednesday further cold conditions are forecast as high pressure influences the weather. Some particularly cold overnight temperatures are forecast with perhaps temperatures in rural areas dropping between -5C and -10C, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday night with a subsequent risk of severe frosts. A few wintry showers, perhaps sleet and snow, are possible parts of northern and eastern Scotland and also eastern England. At the moment however no significant or disruptive snowfall is expected from these showers.

The second half of the week sees a change as more unsettled conditions attempts to move north across the UK. This expected development is likely to lead to a risk of transient snowfall for some parts of the UK later in the week, something which is being monitored and further details will be released as the week progresses. The week is forecast to end on an unsettled theme with low pressure to the west of the UK bringing rain, showers and potentially strong winds to many areas. Attention, as a result, may then be focused on localised flooding in parts depending on how much rainfall develops.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 7 December 2012

Widespread ice tonight

Friday's weather summary

Outbreaks of rain, sleet and snow continue to clear away to the South and South-east of the UK through the rest of Friday whilst a scattering of showers affects some Northern and Eastern areas.

Overnight tonight with winds becoming lighter another cold and frosty night is expected, but particularly across areas affected by recent precipitation then by Saturday morning there is a widespread risk of icy conditions, this is represented by the regions highlighted in red.

A lower risk extends into some Central-Southern and South-western areas of England where temperatures aren’t forecast to drop as far. Overnight lows across Scotland and Northern England are likely to range between -2C and -5C, but locally down to -7C to -10C across any snow cover in Scotland in particular, so prepare for a cold and icy Saturday morning if you are planning an early journey.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Mixed weekend ahead

The coming weekend is forecast to see a mixed weekend, but generally a brief respite from the more significant cold and wintry conditions is expected. However, a particularly cold and frosty start is expected on Saturday away from Scotland which will be experiencing thicker cloud and perhaps some rain, sleet and snow, but only on highest ground.

The rest of the UK will experience a mainly dry, bright day but still remaining rather cold. A milder day than of late is expected on Sunday as some rain and showers move down across the UK and at the moment temperatures are forecast to range between 4C and 9C on Sunday.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Drier but remaining cold for the weekend

A progression towards more settled conditions is forecast during Friday and into the start of the weekend as high pressure becomes more dominant. This is likely to lead to increasingly fine and settled conditions, but it will remain cold with overnight frosts and also perhaps some fog or freezing fog patches as well which may effecting driving conditions locally across the UK.

A particularly cold Friday night is expected, but perhaps becoming a little milder by Sunday. There is little or no risk of any travel disruption from snowfall into the weekend.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sleet and snow for the north

A cold and frosty start across many areas on Thursday is forecast to give way to more unsettled conditions as weather fronts move down into the UK from the northwest. As this takes place the weather fronts are forecast to interact with the cold air over the UK to bring a risk of sleet and snow, particularly across higher elevations of northern England and Scotland, as highlighted within the below graphic.

Some travel disruption is possible across higher level routes for at time during late Thursday morning and into Thursday afternoon.

Thursday's weather summary

Risk of transient snow anywhere within the yellow highlighted area. Any accumulations minimal and temporary though.

Areas within the red highlighted area and especially above 250m to 300m likely to experience more significant accumulations with perhaps up to 5cm in places, particularly Pennines and Central Scotland.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Snow and ice

SORT land rover in snow

The home counties and Essex in particular have experienced problems with snow fall this morning with AA Special Operations’ Landrovers moving to Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex.

The snow is expected to move away through the morning and any lying on the ground to thaw. However, with sub-zero temperatures forecast for overnight, we could see further problems with icy conditions tomorrow morning, so drivers should listen to local traffic and weather reports and stay aware.

Breakdown update

At 11:30 this morning the AA had attended nearly 5,000 jobs with a peak around 08:00 of 1300 jobs an hour being reported.This is now starting to slow as conditions improve.

Darron Burness, Head of Special Operations