Emergency blog archive

February 2013

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

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February blog posts

Wenesday 27 February, 11am

Further fine and settled conditions

Unofficially the first day of spring is now just a few days away and this winter is ending on a particularly quiet and benign period of weather. Briefly looking back over the winter, whilst the data and stats are yet to be analysed it would seem that overall the winter of 2012/2013 will end up being a colder and likely drier than average winter. The second half of the winter in particular has produced some noteworthy snowfall events for some and also some persistently cold conditions, with little in the way of any mild, wet and windy conditions.

So, with that in mind, the outlook for the rest of the week and into the forth coming weekend remains the same and that is for high pressure to remain influential and maintain fine and settled conditions for many areas. As we have experience in the last few days Scotland and Ireland have come out on top in terms of sunshine amounts, whilst many areas of England and Wales have had persistently cloudy days. However, more in the way of sunshine is likely to develop across England and Wales through the rest of the week, but it should be noted that nationwide blue skies are not expected in the coming days.

Cars driving in fog

The primary hazards over the coming few days will remain some hard frosts where skies remain clearer for longest overnight and also the risk of fog. Fog is likely to be most widespread across parts of Southern Scotland and into Northern England over the next few days but also perhaps affecting Ireland as well with some locally dense fog or freezing fog patches likely early in the day. So some travel disruption could be possible more locally where any fog does develop. A full round-up of the weather for the weekend will be available on Friday morning as usual, but expect more of the same for the weekend.

Finally ending on a brief long term outlook, it would seem that high pressure will remain dominant even into early next week (week beginning Monday 4th) but thereafter the further we progress into March it is likely to turn far more unsettled with rain or showers developing, so a change of month and a change of weather looks likely.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday 25 February, 9am

A fine and settled week ahead

The cold and mainly dry conditions of the past weekend were evident due to high pressure dominating the weather and high pressure is forecast to remain an influential feature of the weather through the coming week and even into next weekend.

As a result a relatively benign and settled period of weather is forecast for many areas of the UK through this week. Most areas will experience some bright or sunny spells at times, especially across Ireland and Scotland earlier in the week but I am quietly confident that after a rather cloudy start to the week parts of England and Wales will experience some brighter conditions towards and beyond mid-week.

Many areas of the UK will experience little or no measurable rainfall this week, as a result another drier than average week is expected for many areas. The other significant feature will be the introduction of somewhat milder conditions than of late. As a result the particularly cold and raw feel to the weather will be replaced by still slightly below average temperatures, but in any sunshine it should feel more pleasant than of late.

By night further frost and fog patches will be the primary hazards through this week. Ice is expected to be a limited problem given that many areas and many surfaces are now particularly dry. But beneath any clearer skies then there will be a persistent risk of frost throughout the week and with lighter winds than of late then fog patches may also become a hazard for some reasons.

At the moment the areas at greatest risk of fog this week will be parts of Ireland, Scotland and down into Northern England, so caution may well be required earlier in the day where any fog has developed.

The general theme for high pressure to continue into next weekend, which clearly takes into the first spring month, has high confidence. As a result the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of March is likely to continue a similar trend in the weather with some bright or sunny spells by day in places, but with a likely continued risk of frosts and fog patches by night. So, all in all a particularly benign and settled period of weather is expected for the foreseeable future.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday 22 February, 9am

A cold and wintry weekend

As you have probably noticed, it's cold outside! The predicted air mass from the East has, without question, arrived during the last few days and continues to maintain a particularly cold and raw feel to the weather. That general trend is forecast to continue across many areas of the UK over the coming weekend, but particularly so across England and Wales.

Firstly focusing on Scotland and Ireland and high pressure is forecast to be located across both countries throughout the weekend. As a result some bright or sunny spells are possible after some particularly cold and frosty mornings, but further cloudier conditions are also likely as well. Some localised fog or freezing fog patches may also develop across Scotland in particular.

England and Wales will hold onto the cold East or North-easterly wind throughout the weekend and this will accentuate the cold feel with a noteworthy wind-chill factor likely to continue. With maximum temperatures ranging between 2C and 4C generally, it will feel sub-zero given the wind.

Wintry showers across parts of the east and south of England

The other noteworthy feature is that the wind is likely to bring in a lot of low cloud which will be thick enough at times to produce some scattered snow flurries almost anywhere. As a result sunshine amounts are likely to be limited this weekend with the best of these likely across Wales and North-west England. In meteorological terms what is known as a 'trough' is forecast to move into Eastern areas of England overnight tonight and into Saturday and this will increase the risk of some light snow or snow showers. I have highlighted the areas at greatest risk of some snow flurries this weekend in red with perhaps a few centimeters of lying snow possible in places and with a lower risk extending further west.

So all in all yet another cold and wintry weekend in store for all areas of the UK with further below average temperatures, frosts, localised icy patches and some snow flurries as well, but it should be noted no significant or disruptive snowfall is expected however.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Wednesday 20 February, 10am

Increasingly cold and wintry

As highlighted at the beginning of the week the weather is set to turn increasingly cold as the week progresses and that change is now forecast to take place through the course of today. High pressure is dominant to the north-east of the UK and will slowly introduce a much colder air mass from the east during the rest of the week which will signal a marked drop in temperatures compared with the opening few days of the week, which in the sunshine have actually be quite pleasant.

At the moment maximum temperatures through the rest of the week are forecast to between 2C and 5C generally so only a few degrees above freezing. It will however, feel sub-zero given a significant wind-chill factor in association with a moderate or fresh east or south-easterly wind, so the overall 'feel' of the weather will be markedly different than the opening few days of the week. The risk of overnight frosts will continue and these perhaps becoming locally severe by the end of the week across rural areas of the north and minimum temperatures ranging between -2C and -5C, but locally down to between -5C and -8C across the north.

Wintry showers across parts of the east and south of England

The east or south-easterly wind may also be responsible for producing some wintry showers across parts of the east and south of England. A few snow flurries are possible in places with perhaps slight accumulations, but generally nothing significant or disruptive is expected and most of the country will remain dry. Areas at greatest risk of seeing some wintry precipitation through the rest of the week have been highlighted.

The generally cold and wintry theme will continue into the forth coming weekend with a further risk of wintry flurries for parts of the east and south, but a full round-up of the weekend's weather will be available on Friday.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday 18 February, 9am

Mainly dry but turning increasingly colder this week

The coming week will see predominantly dry and settled conditions dominate the weather as high pressure becomes the influential feature of the weather across the UK. As is often the case at this time of the year, and through the winter in general, if high pressure becomes a dominant feature of the weather and then becomes located in certain places, it could lead to the development of cold or very cold conditions; that is expected to be the case through this coming week.

High pressure is forecast to become dominant across Scandinavia and when high pressure becomes located here this is a notorious position for high pressure to then lead to colder east or south-easterly winds and that is what will develop from the middle of the week onwards. A mainly dry and chilly start to the working week is forecast with bright or sunny spells and slight or moderate frosts by night. However, Wednesday will be the significant day of change as a much colder air mass filters into the UK from the east signaling well below average temperatures.

The theme for the second half of the week is for further mainly dry, bright or sunny conditions for most areas but with perhaps an increasing risk of some snow flurries for eastern, south-eastern and southern counties of England in particular. At the present time no significant snowfall is expected, but some wintry showers/snow flurries are likely in a few places. The other noteworthy feature of the weather will be a significant wind-chill factor as a moderate or fresh east or south-easterly wind combines with maximum temperatures of just a few degrees above freezing to lead to a particularly cold and raw few days. Overnight frosts will persist and become more intense with perhaps locally severe frosts across rural areas of the north with temperatures, here, dropping to between -4C and -8C.

The expected synoptic patterns into the forth coming weekend have high confidence, as a result the weekend of the 23rd and the 24th of February is set to remain predominantly dry across many areas of the UK as high pressure remains influential, but continuing to be cold or very cold. Overnight frosts will continue these locally severe across rural areas of the north at times and some further snow flurries are possible across the east and south of England in particular.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday 15 February, 12.30pm

Mild for now, but colder again next week

The coming weekend will see a quieter spell of weather than we have experienced in quite some time. High pressure is forecast to be influential just to the east of the UK and generally keep Atlantic weather systems at bay and bring about a rather benign spell of weather. Some patchy rain and drizzle may possible across some northern and western areas of the UK on Saturday with quite a lot of cloud, but generally by Sunday many areas are likely to be dry with some bright or perhaps sunny spells. Compared with of late as well it will be markedly milder with temperatures nearer average and ranging between 6C and 10C generally.

However, just when you think the cold weather may well have gone for good, or at least for some time, there are distinct signs and signals that colder weather will return next week. Up to a few days ago there were some uncertainties surrounding this, but confidence is now high that as next week progresses high pressure to the East or North-east of the UK will aid in the development of a cold East or South-easterly wind from the continent. Given the time of year this may well not just be as potent as it could have been if it was in December or January, but despite this next week will once again herald the arrival of another cold spell across the UK.

Man clearing windscreen

Details remain uncertain at this stage, but for most areas it looks like it will be dry and cold, but some wintry precipitation cannot be ruled out and for now the greatest risk of that is likely to be across eastern and southern areas of England in particular. Overnight frosts will make a return and these could become quite harsh, particularly given a likely moderate or fresh East or South-easterly wind and day time temperatures will once again drop below average and it will feel cold with a noteworthy wind-chill factor likely to develop.

So make the most of the next few days, as further wintry weather is just around the corner. Full details on next week’s weather will be available, as usual, early on Monday.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Wednesday 13 February, 4:30pm

Drivers urged to heed flood warnings

Motorists really do need to take notice of flood warnings as two men found out to their cost last weekend. They have reportedly been fined after their 4x4 was swept 60 metres down the River Mole in Devon.

Those two men had a very lucky escape but not only did they put their own lives at grave risk but also those of the emergency services.

But it doesn't have to be a raging torrent. Flood water is deceptive – just one foot of flowing water could be enough to move the average family car. Regardless of the vehicle you're in, stay out of flood water.

Darron Burness, Head of AA Special Operations Response Team

Tuesday 12 February, 9am

Wednesday's snowfall

As highlighted in yesterday's weekly outlook Wednesday was at risk of bringing some outbreaks of snow to many northern areas of the UK as a set of weather fronts, associated with low pressure to the North-west of the UK move across many areas and interact with the cold air located over the UK to bring a risk of snow.

Confidence is now high for this to happen and outbreaks of snow are forecast to move into many areas of Scotland, Northern England and parts of North and West Wales during Wednesday morning and continue to steadily move eastwards during the course of the day.

Initially snowfall is expected to low levels, even down to 100m to 150m, snowfall accumulation of approximately 1cm to 3cm is possible. As the day progresses and milder air begins to move in then coastal and lower lying areas will see a gradual thaw and the snow will turn to sleet or rain. However, higher ground, above approximately 200m to 250m is likely to experience a mostly snowfall event and higher ground of North Wales, Northern England and Scotland are forecast to comfortably experience a general 2cm to 5cm but with quite possibly 10cm to 15cm of snowfall in places and with temperatures struggling to rise above 0C until late in the day.

Wednesday's snowfall

The weather fronts moving into the UK are forecast to be quite active, so the precipitation intensity is forecast to be noteworthy as a result, at times; some of the snowfall could be heavy. A strong south-westerly wind will accompany the snow and bring blowing and drifting snow on higher ground. I have highlighted a broad area on the associated image in yellow which is at risk of some transient snow, but it is within the highlighted red area that some particularly inclement conditions are possible through Wednesday with a distinct risk of some travel disruption as the day progresses.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday 11 February, 3:30pm

Drivers mistake cars for submersibles

As the snow turns to rain, stay out of any flood water as it's just not worth the risk – we had a busy weekend after some drivers mistook their cars for submersibles! Keep your speed down and put your headlights on if visibility is seriously reduced.

sinking car

See our advice on driving in wet weather as well as the dangers of flood water.

Darron Burness, Head of AA Special Operations Response Team

Monday 11 February, 9am

Week ahead – remaining cold

The persistent cold and wintry conditions of late are forecast to continue across most areas of the UK throughout the coming week, despite a trend towards slightly milder conditions later in the week, but with emphasis on the word 'slightly'.

The new working week starts cold for many areas of the UK with the complex synoptic pattern from Sunday still dominating the weather with some residual outbreaks of rain, sleet and snow, but no further significant snowfall is expected through the rest of the day. Despite some brighter intervals in places a generally cold and cloudy day is likely for many even though it is likely to become mainly dry for most areas.

Into Tuesday and some further patchy outbreaks of rain, sleet and snow remain possible across some southern and western areas of the UK, but again without causing too much problem and no significant snowfall is expected. The majority of the UK will maintain predominantly cloudy conditions with a cold East or South-easterly wind and overnight frosts and icy patches are likely. A particularly cold night is possible on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning when temperatures across inland areas may drop to between -3C and -6C so a harsh frost and icy patches may well be evidence first thing.

Further snow possible

The middle of week becomes interesting once again as another low pressure and its associated weather fronts move into the UK from the west. At the moment a spell of transient snow is expected for higher ground of Northern England and Scotland in particular and especially above 200m to 250m then further temporary accumulations of snow are possible. However, milder air filtering in behind the weather front is likely to turn snow back to rain across most areas except across the highest hills and mountains of the north. So further snow is possible for a time mid-week and I have highlighted those areas at greatest risk on the associated image in red and with lower risk further south.

The end of the week does experience slightly milder conditions, as highlighted earlier, given a milder North-westerly air mass becoming established. However, don’t expect a rapid warm-up as maximum temperatures by the end of the week are currently forecast to be between 4C and 8C which is, however, nearer to average for the time of year. Some showers are possible across parts of the north and east otherwise many southern and western areas are likely to end the week on a predominantly dry note.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Saturday 9 February, 9:35am

Weekend weather – snow update

As was a possibility given the complex nature of the weather pattern for Sunday and Monday, there have been some changes in the synoptic evolution which have changed the forecast. The primary change is that the developing low pressure has been nudged further south-west on the majority, if not all of the various higher resolution forecast models. The result of this is as follows:

The risk of more significant snow now looks to be less for northern England given that the bulk of the heavier precipitation totals now seem to be further south. Northern England does remain at risk of snow however and a general 2cm to 5cm of snow remains possible, especially across parts of south Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester as an example. However, the potential for up to and over 10cm of snow across these areas now looks highly unlikely.

Snow forecast - for the weekendSnow forecast - for the weekend


The heaviest precipitation with this event now looks to be across parts of Wales, Midlands and down into southern counties of England. As a result the greatest risk of more significant snow (2cm to 5cm, locally >10cm) now seems to be restricted to parts of north Wales and across into the Midlands and perhaps down into some south-eastern areas of England and I have highlighted this on the associated graphic. However, the overall risk of a disruptive and major snowfall event has reduced. Some heavy rainfall may be an issue across some southern areas of Wales and into south-west England.

Into Monday and attention turns towards wintry showers moving into eastern areas of Scotland and England given an east or south-easterly air flow. The risk of snowfall for southern areas on Monday is much lower than expected yesterday, but the risk of some accumulations remains possible across East and South-east Scotland and down into north-east England in particular, as highlighted on the second forecast image, with a lower risk extending further south.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday 8 February, 9am

Weekend weather – risk of significant snow for some

Another weekend is upon us and the weather still hasn't changed its 'tune' with a cold and wintry theme set to continue, not just over this weekend, but also well into next week as well. Within the last blog I highlighted the initial risk of some significant and perhaps disruptive snowfall for some areas of the UK during the course of Sunday and into Monday of next week.

The coming weekend see's a synoptic pattern that has occurred in recent weeks where low pressure and weather fronts try and move across the UK and remove the colder conditions. An attempt will be made to remove the colder air on Sunday and it is this 'attempt' that will bring the risk of some significant snowfall in places.

Snow forecast - Figure One

At the moment a developing area of low pressure and associated weather fronts may well initially bring rain or sleet to parts of England and Wales early on Sunday. However, as Sunday progresses the risk of snow increases markedly and at the moment, given latest model guidance, the risk of snowfall is likely to be greatest across parts of East Wales, the Midlands and up into Southern areas of Northern England. It is across this zone that some significant snowfall seems possible towards the end of Sunday and with a lower risk extending further North and also South-east. As highlighed on the forecast graphic.

Snow forecast - Figure Two

The developing area of low pressure is then forecast to move South across England and Wales into Monday and as it does so introduces a cold feed of air from the East or South-east across most areas. As a result the risk of snow on Monday is likely to extend further South into some central and Southern areas of England. Not only that an unstable South-easterly air flow could well bring some significant snow showers to parts of East and South-east Scotland and down into North-east England. I have highlighted which areas are at greatest risk of snow on Monday on this additional graphic.

The overall snowfall amounts do remain uncertain, but for parts of the Midlands and Southern areas of Northern England in particular than a general 2cm to 5cm of snow is possible, but with totals up to and over 10cm quite possible on higher ground. The risk of these similar snowfall totals may then also apply to parts of east and South-east Scotland during Sunday.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Wednesday 6 February, 10am

Remaining cold – perhaps significant snow this weekend

The generally cold theme to the weather is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. The remainder of the week will maintain a risk of some wintry precipitation, particularly across Northern and Eastern areas of the UK today in the form of sleet and snow showers, especially away from coastal areas. A particularly cold and frosty night is then expected tonight into Thursday with a risk of some icy patches as well.

Sleet and snow across Northern areas of England, Ireland and into Wales

A renewed risk of some further rain, sleet and snow then develops from the West during Thursday, as a weather front pushes into the UK. Some slight or locally moderate accumulations of snow are possible above 200m in particular across Scotland, Northern England perhaps across some Eastern areas of Ireland and across into Wales as well. I have highlighted the areas at risk on the associated image as Thursday progresses, but it should be noted no significant snowfall totals are forecast.

A quieter day, but still a cold one, is forecast on Friday after some overnight frost and icy conditions slowly clears. At the moment a highly complex situation is developing for the weekend as the cold air across the UK combines with a further, but more substantial, area of low pressure attempting to move into the UK. This low pressure is likely to combine with the cold air across the UK to bring the risk of some potentially disruptive snow during Sunday and perhaps into Monday. There are considerable uncertainties over the details at the moment and this initial prediction is subject to change, but further updates will be issued before the weekend to highlight and advance on this particular snowfall threat.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday 4 February, 3pm

'Water' joke – 14 swamped on Watery Lane

We are urging drivers to heed road closure signs on a flooded road in Hullbridge, Essex, called... Watery Lane.

In the last six days, we have attended 14 cars, including two this morning, that have come to grief after ignoring the warning signs.

Photos of Watery Lane

Local AA patrol and flood rescue team member Allen Childs says: "The clue's in the name, Watery Lane. It's closed for safety reasons but unfortunately some drivers think they know better and have got stuck, even though they see other cars in trouble.

"The road is a popular short cut and some have admitted they were just blindly following their sat-nav.

"The air intake on a modern car is often lower than you might think, just behind the bumper, and it only takes a tiny amount of water entering the engine to wreck it.

"As well as the dangers posed by flood water, your insurer would take a dim view of this irresponsible behaviour and may well reject any claim, so just don't risk it!"

Monday 4 February, 10.30am

Another cold and wintry week ahead

Cars driving in snow

All latest forecast model data continues to signal a cold and wintry week ahead as initially North-westerly winds become more northerly through and beyond the middle of the week. At the moment the North-westerly winds will bring frequent and often heavy showers to Scotland, Ireland, North West England and Wales in particular on Monday and into Tuesday and these will turn increasingly wintry, especially above 200m where up to 2cm to 5cm of snow is possible and perhaps up to 10cm above 300m in particular.

Some travel disruption is possible, especially across higher level routes of Northern England and Scotland as blizzard-like conditions are possible at times given very strong winds. As the wind becomes more Northerly during the middle of the week the risk alleviates for more Western areas of the UK but increases for more Eastern areas and I highlighted this situation in my previous blog and there is currently no change to the areas at greatest risk.

The latter half of the week is forecast to maintain a general Northerly air mass across the UK so further wintry showers (rain, hail, sleet and snow) are possible across Northern and Eastern areas of the UK particular with perhaps some further snow accumulations in places. More Southern and Western areas are likely to be drier with some bright or sunny spells. Many areas will be cold or very cold with temperatures below average and there will be frequent frosts and icy patches by night.

Latest medium and longer term forecast data is showing a possibility that the cold and rather wintry conditions will continue into next weekend (9th/10th) as well. As a result prepare, once again, for quite a sustained period of cold and wintry conditions across the UK throughout the next 5 to 7 days.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday 1 February, 9am

It's been a busy week

The recent weather has kept us very busy this week. Two incidents that stand out include a car stranded near an airport, which was taking in substantial water. We were able to pull the car to safety, then get it running in well under an hour. The other involved a member and her young baby who were stranded in a car while water was seeping in. One of our patrol colleagues, Stuart Tollhurst took control of the situation and SORT team member Andy Clarke cancelled his night off to help and they were able to rescue them.

The dangers of water can catch anyone out. Check the Environment Agency website for details of the areas affected. It's also best to avoid entering flood water – the ground is soft so you can never tell how deep the water is until it's too late. Here's our advice on how to stay safe.

Matt's predicting a colder week ahead, so watch this space for more news on that.

Darron Burness, Head of Special Operations

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