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May 2013

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

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May blog posts

Friday 31 May, 9am

Increasingly fine and settled

The coming weekend will see a gradual progression towards increasingly fine and settled conditions as high pressure builds up into the UK from the south-west. It will be a rather slow process and for northern and western areas of the UK Saturday is forecast to remain quite cloudy and cool through the day with some rain or showers at times, but without producing any significant or heavy rainfall. Many southern and south-western areas of the UK and Wales will be predominantly dry though with some bright or sunny spells and feeling pleasantly warm despite a rather cool north or north-westerly wind.

Into Sunday and the high pressure builds further across many areas of the UK with pressure ranging between 1028mb and 1032mb. Some weak frontal systems may bring further cloud to parts of the north and west of Scotland with perhaps some patchy rain or drizzle at times, but for most areas of the UK Sunday is forecast to be dry with some bright or sunny spells and these prolonged at times. Given light winds it will feel pleasantly warm in what will be particularly ‘strong’ sunshine, with high UV levels expected this weekend.

As I mentioned within the last blog, earlier this week, the weather is set to settle down now as high pressure becomes dominant into early June. As a result, even into next week high pressure is forecast to be influential leading to further dry and settled conditions and it will become warm or very warm with temperatures reaching 20C to 22C at the moment into next week. So, as hard as it is to imagine, a sustained period of fine, settled and increasingly warm conditions is to be expected as we move into early June.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Tuesday 28 May, 9am

Unsettled at first – drier and warmer later

The remainder of the coming week will produce some varied conditions once again as low pressure and rather cool conditions dominate within the short term.

Tuesday and Wednesday

Over the next 24 to 36 hours, through Tuesday and into Wednesday some heavy and persistent rainfall is possible across parts of England and Wales with a general 15mm to 25mm of rainfall possible, but perhaps with locally higher totals. This may bring some localised flooding in prone areas.

A set of weather fronts are then forecast to move down into the UK from the north-east during Wednesday and as a result maintain the unsettled theme across many areas with some heavy rain possible across Eastern England during the middle of the week. 

So expect a particularly wet few days ahead, particularly for England and Wales in general.

Thursday and Friday

The end of the week does see a slow improvement as low pressure declines away to the south-east of the UK and a ridge of high pressure begins to become more influential. As a result Thursday and Friday are forecast to be drier and brighter with some sunny spells at times, despite some showers as well.

A weak frontal system moving into Scotland and Ireland on Friday may bring more persistent light or moderate rain or drizzle at times, but this front isn’t expected to produce any heavy rain at the moment. It will also be a pleasantly warm end to the week with temperatures across England and Wales reaching 18C to 21C on Friday and whilst turning cooler into next weekend at the moment, it still looks quite dry and bright.

Longer term

With June, the first summer month, just around the corner the indications are that high pressure is likely to be an influential feature at the moment as we move into the opening week or more of the month. Whilst there are uncertainties over the details at this range, the broader weather patterns at the moment are expected to orientate around high pressure. As a result, at the moment, early June is likely to be predominantly dry across many areas of the UK with some bright or sunny spells and it could also be quite warm at times as well.

So, some positives within the longer term as well, with the start of summer likely to produce some summer-like weather, which after last summer is a welcome expectation.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Thursday, 23 May, 10am

Bank holiday weather outlook

After a particularly changeable week with some early warmth giving way to markedly cooler and also windier conditions the second Bank Holiday of May is upon us and excluding Bank Holiday Monday for northern and western areas, the weekend as a whole is look pretty good!

The week is forecast to end on a particularly cool and unsettled theme as an area of low pressure, initially in the North Sea, moves down into eastern and south-eastern areas of England during the course of Friday bringing a spell of wet and windy conditions for a time. Fortunately this area of low pressure doesn’t want to hang around and it is forecast to move southwards quite quickly into France by the end of the day. At the same time a ridge of high pressure building across Ireland and Scotland through Friday will become an important feature into the weekend.

The ridge of high pressure (1016mb to 1020mb) will become located over the UK into Saturday and also Sunday and this is forecast to signal a predominantly settled couple of days. At the moment both Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be predominantly dry with some prolonged bright or sunny spells, especially through central areas of the UK. Given that winds will also be markedly lighter than compared with the end of the week it will feel very pleasant in the sunshine despite temperatures still being slightly below average really for late May.

There are a few exceptions, as usual, and some parts of Ireland and north-west Scotland may become cloudier with some rain or showers later on Saturday and by Sunday a few showers may also develop across some eastern and south-eastern areas of England, but generally speaking the weekend, for many, will be dry, sunny and pleasantly warm in that sunshine. Bank Holiday Monday is expected to become more unsettled at the moment as a weather front, initially across the north and west, moves south-east through the day. So Scotland, Ireland and eventually Northern England are expected to become cloudy and wet through the day with some rain or showers, whilst southern and south-eastern areas remain driest and brightest for longest through the day.

So, not a bad weekend at all for firing up the BBQ and fortunately the worst of the weather this week will be out of the way just in time for the weekend. It is worth noting that the sun is particularly ‘strong’ at this time of year and given a likelihood of some prolonged spells of sunshine into the weekend, UV (Ultraviolet) levels are forecast to be quite high.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday, 20 May, 8am

Changeable week ahead

The coming week, in a word, will be changeable. High pressure is forecast to be an influential and persistent feature of the weather just to the west and south-west of the UK this coming week. Whilst it will influence the weather at times, it is not expected to build into the UK in a more significant way, with the result that lower pressure to the east of the UK will also have some influence on the weather at times as well.

The week is forecast to start quite warm as well with pressure still relatively low. Through the day today (Monday) some bright or sunny spells are forecast to develop, but this may well be responsible for producing some locally heavy and thundery showers into Monday afternoon and early evening across parts of Scotland and Northern England. I have highlighted the areas at risk in yellow, but it is likely to be more inland areas of Southern Scotland and possibly down the Pennines as well.

Weather Map

During Tuesday and Wednesday pressure is forecast to rise from the west with pressure up to 1020mb to 1028mb across many western areas of the country in particular. The combination of high pressure to the west of the UK and low pressure to the east will be to gradually introduce a cooler north or north-westerly air mass around the middle of the week.  This is likely to bring a further mixture of sunshine and showers but despite this, some brighter, drier and even sunnier conditions are expected as well.

The end of the week does have some uncertainties present at the moment, but it would seem the low pressure systems to the east of the UK may well move into some eastern and southern areas of England and bring a more significant risk of rain or showers to this area of the UK, whilst it remains somewhat drier and brighter further north and west.

The other noteworthy feature will be a particularly cool, if not rather chilly end to the week for late May. The north or north-westerly air mass by Thursday in particular is likely to signal below or well below average temperatures with perhaps rural frosts by night as well.

So as you can see the week is set to produce some early warmth, along with perhaps some thunderstorms, a cooler and drier mid-week period, before turning rather chilly and potentially wet for some to end the week.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 17 May, 3.30pm

AA SORT - The week ahead

The end of another busy week for the full time members of AA SORT, but what do we do when the weather is not causing the nation problems? Well, we hope to give you an insight into our unique part of the business.

This weekend the AA are:

  • Saturday - The final day of the Devon County Show. AA Members get free soft drinks from Stand 59, near White Gate and overlooking the main ring.
  • Saturday Evening- The prestigious road employee awards night in London. AA SORT will be in attendance and are pleased to welcome distinguished guests from the emergency services and rescue training providers. A number of SORT trained staff are short listed for awards and reigning AA Patrol of the Year and SORT crew Andy Smith will be there to congratulate his successor.

Next week looks like another busy one for the three full-time SORT staff. Amongst other items we will be attending a meeting planning The AA's presence and activities at Glastonbury Festival. This includes;

  • All the traffic signs guiding the thousands of people safely to the festival
  • Car park greeters handing out useful information to drivers
  • The full compliment of breakdown support functions, including SORT Land Rovers just in case it rains

We will also be putting 4 of the team (including yours truly) through a recertification of their 4x4 qualification. This includes;

  • 4x4 driving best practice
  • Winching best practice
  • Use of kinetic ropes

So, once again a busy week ahead, more than just storm chasing. Have a great weekend all!

Ian, your man on Twitter at @AASORT

Friday 17 May, 2pm

AA SORT take to the road, 1st stop - Devon

AA Stand at Devon County Show

You may not know this but here at AA SORT we are about more than just responding to the impact of the UK’s extremes of weather. Yes, we do have a tendency to wear our pants on the outside and rescue those stranded by snow, floods and festival muds. It is not all we do though; in the summer we pack away the tight fitting superhero clothing, drop the rugged, oil stained macho image and take on a more wholesome, welcoming tone. Think Paul Hollywood in the Great British Bake Off.

We head up the AA’s presence at a whole host of summer events, from county shows, to classic car events and of course support at big music festivals. This week has seen the first of the big events in our summer calendar, The Devon County Show. On the first day yesterday, we gave out nearly 500 complimentary soft drinks to AA members, their families and friends. A good start in our bid to beat the 2012 total of 10,000 free drinks given to AA Members. Check out this list of where you might see us this summer, pop along, say hello and if you are an AA Member grab your complimentary drink with a chance to sit down.

Another little known fact is that we look after The AA’s Historic fleet of vehicles. You can see many of these at events around the country. Everything from the 1904 Renault model VB, to the original BSA motorbikes and a selection of patrol vans from the 60’s onwards. Personally the cream of the crop though is this 1952 Land Rover.

Hopefully we’ll see some of you over the summer, for your sake I hope you’re greeted by a Paul Hollywood clone brandishing a cuppa, but if you and your car find yourselves in need of a Landy driving super hero, we’ll be there in a hurry, there’s no need to worry.

We wish you all a splendid weekend.

Ian, Your man on Twitter @AASORT

Friday 17 May, 10am

Remaining unsettled – further heavy rain

Weather Map

The unsettled conditions through this week have brought a mixture of heavy showers, thunderstorms and also some heavy and persistent rain at times and unfortunately that trend is set to continue into the coming weekend. The week is expected to end on a showery note, with attention on the heaviest showers being focused across SW England (Devon and Cornwall) through this (Friday) afternoon. Showers are forecast to develop through the day and some heavy and slow moving thundery downpours are anticipated into the afternoon with the risk of some large rainfall totals locally within a short space of time leading to a risk of some localised flooding

Weather Map

Focus for the weekend, in terms of heavy precipitation, is across parts of S Scotland, N England and eventually across into Ireland. A developing area of low pressure approaching from an usual easterly direction is forecast to move across Central areas of the UK through the course of Saturday. Confidence is high that this low pressure and its associated frontal systems will bring some persistent and heavy rainfall at times. I have highlighted the areas in red which are at greatest risk of seeing some particularly large rainfall totals on Saturday and it is within these areas that a general 20mm to 30mm is possible, but perhaps with rainfall totals up to 40mm locally. Given recent heavy precipitation there is a risk of flooding in places, especially prone areas through the day on Saturday. A lower risk of heavy precipitation is expected across the areas highlighted yellow

Sunday should see a gradual improvement in conditions compared with Saturday, but low pressure is still forecast to remain the dominant feature of the weather. As a result whilst some bright or sunny spells are to be expected through the day, a scattering of showers are also expected. There is also a growing risk, given latest model guidance, for some moderate or heavy rain perhaps moving back into southern and south-eastern areas of England through the day as well. This potential development has some uncertainties surrounding it, but the risk is now increasing for perhaps longer spells of rain to develop through Sunday across southern areas.

Looking a little further ahead and fortunately somewhat drier and more settled conditions are expected to develop into next week, so at the moment some better weather is likely, especially across northern and western areas of the UK where pressure is set to rise.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday 13 May, 9am

Unsettled week ahead – rain and showers at times

The weather has once again become ‘stuck in a rut’ and unfortunately that ‘rut’ is an unsettled one. The coming week and the middle of May in general is expected to be unsettled as low pressure dominates the weather across many areas of the UK bringing showers or longer spells of rain at times. Some heavy precipitation is to be expected along with the possibility of some thunderstorms as well around the middle of the week.

So starting with today (Monday) and many areas are being affected by a particularly chilly west or north-westerly wind as low pressure dominates to the north-west of the UK. This is set to bring a mixture of sunshine and showers across many areas of the UK but these most frequent across Scotland, Ireland and Northern England where some heavy and thundery showers are possible locally. Also the air mass is particularly chilly, as I mention, and as a result some of the showers are likely to be wintry across hills and mountains of Scotland above 350m to 400m in particular. More central and southern areas of England and Wales are expected to be drier and brighter despite a few showers.

Weather Map

Into Tuesday and a complex situation is developing where many northern and western areas of the UK including Scotland, Ireland and Northern England will continue to experience sunshine and showers and perhaps longer spells of rain. Equally a developing low pressure is forecast to move up into England and Wales from the south-west and bring a spell of very wet weather to the areas I have highlighted on the associated image. At the moment a general 15mm to 25mm of rainfall is possible quite widely, but within the regions highlighted red up to 30mm to 40mm of rainfall is possible by the end of Tuesday which may lead to a risk of some localised flooding

Wednesday and Thursday then maintain low pressure over the UK but with winds becoming much lighter than previous days and this is then likely to lead to a further mixture of sunshine and showers across many areas. Given the time of year there is a good possibility that some slow moving, heavy and thundery downpours will develop across parts of the UK and given the light winds then these may well lead to some large rainfall totals locally and regionally. A somewhat quieter end to the week is then expected as low pressure eases away into the near Continent leaving behind a drier and brighter day for many, but still with the risk of a few showers at times.

So all in all another unsettled week is expected across many areas this week with Tuesday’s rainfall of some concern for parts of England and Wales and with some heavy and slow moving thundery downpours leading to some locally large rainfall totals in places during the middle of the week.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday, 10 May, 3pm

More than just flat batteries

The end of another busy week for the full time members of AA SORT, but what do we do when the weather is not causing the nation problems? Well, we hope to give you an insight into our unique part of the business.

This weekend the AA are:

  • Saturday - Supporting Jap Fest at Castle Combe providing breakdown support for the event. Any car trouble please call our dedicated line 0800 072 3642
  • Sunday – Supporting the Wiggle Jurassic Beast Sportive cycling event. AA members receive a free High 5 Nutritional Pack, worth over £10, on registration at the event – simply show your AA Rewards or membership card

Summer Support

The SORT team are also responsible for the organising the AA’s attendance at a whole host of summer events, from county shows to large music festivals and everything in between. A full list of where you might spot us this month is available here.

This week includes the Devon County Show in Exeter from 16-18th – AA members can enjoy refreshments, plus the chance to win a Virgin Experience thrill ride. There is also the added bonus (cough) of meeting John, the SORT team manager who will be happy to answer questions about the team.

Whilst John is enjoying the spring sunshine in Devon. Darron will be on the road;

  • Visiting the suppliers of our mobile CCTV – a service that has proved invaluable on many levels; from monitoring the health and safety of crews around water, to traffic management at large events and has been utilised in Gold and Silver command posts during major incidents.
  • Then, clocking up the miles, Darron is in Scotland for meetings about the AA Special Operations Response Team’s response north of the Border.

So, a busy week ahead, proving we are More Than Just Flat Batteries. Have a great weekend all!

Ian, your man on Twitter over at @AASORT

Thursday 9 May, 2pm

Wet and windy weather ahead

The change to far more unsettled and cooler conditions than compared with earlier in the week is continuing to take place and as highlighted in the last blog a particularly wet and windy day is expected today (Thursday). The outlook, unfortunately, is one of further unsettled conditions.

The broader scale weather patterns are signaling a likely spell of persistently unsettled conditions, not just for days but for perhaps well over a week or more now. High pressure is forecast to have little influence on the weather and remain well to the south-west of the country, but low pressure, dominant to the west and north-west of the UK will become the influential feature for several days.

As a result the week is forecast to end on an unsettled theme as low pressure and weather fronts cross the country bringing further spells of wet and windy conditions. Unlike last weekend which was clearly predominantly fine, settled and warm, the coming weekend will be more akin to early spring rather than late spring as further low pressure systems develop from the north-west and then move down into the UK with their associated weather fronts bringing spells of rain and showers at times and also further windy conditions. With the air mass generally originating from the west or north-west then the end of the week and over the weekend will be cool with temperatures slightly below average and with maximum temperatures generally ranging between 10C and 15C, which is considerably lower than earlier in the week

Weather Map

At the moment no extreme of disruptive rainfall totals are expected given that the weather fronts associated with the low pressure systems are forecast to move across the UK quite quickly. However, a cumulative affect may well begin to take place across some northern and western areas of the UK in the days ahead and I have highlighted, in yellow, which areas may well experience up to 25mm to 35mm of rainfall by the end of the weekend.

So after a taste of early summer earlier this week we are sort of back to square one, as low pressure now becomes and remains the dominant feature of the UK’s weather. As I highlighted at the start of this blog this setup does look as though it will be persistent and at the moment I have quite high confidence to suggest that unsettled conditions with spells of wet and windy weather and cool temperatures will now continue up to and beyond the 18th and 19th of May at least.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Tuesday 7 May, 10am

Increasingly wet, windy and unsettled

The rest of the coming week will experience a marked change in conditions as the settled and warm weather over the Bank Holiday and also into today (Tuesday) will be quickly swept away by a noteworthy low pressure system that is set to bring a very different middle and latter half of the week.

Weather Map

The low pressure in question is currently developing to the south-west of the UK and is forecast to move up into the UK overnight tonight and through into Wednesday. Initially some heavy rain is forecast to move up into Ireland and South-west England this evening and overnight before steadily moving north and east through the course of Wednesday itself. Some heavy rainfall is possible from this low pressure system along with the risk of some embedded heavy showers and thunderstorms. This area of low pressure is then forecast to remain slow moving over Ireland through Thursday in particular bringing further showers or longer spells of rain circulating around the area of low pressure. As a result there is forecast to be a gradual increase in precipitation totals across western areas of the UK throughout the rest of the week with between 25mm and 50mm of rainfall possible in some places, especially across Ireland. I have highlighted which areas are at greatest risk of heavy and perhaps disruptive rainfall in red and with a lower risk across areas in yellow.

Weather Map

Also of particular concern, for the time of year, is the development of some very strong winds across parts of Ireland, Wales, Midlands and South-west England into Thursday. Latest model guidance is highlighting a zone of strong winds and gales across these areas through the day. At the moment wind speeds up to 50mph to 60mph are possible, especially across coasts and hills which may well lead to some travel disruption as well. Again I have highlighted the areas at greatest risk of strong winds and gales into Thursday in red and with a lower risk across the areas in yellow;

So all in all the highly pleasant warm and settled conditions of the last few days are forecast to come to an abrupt end through the rest of the week with heavy rain, showers, localised thunderstorms and also a risk of strong winds and gales all possible. Some travel disruption is possible in places, particularly so across the areas that are both at greatest risk of experiencing significant rainfall and strong winds during Wednesday and into Thursday

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday 3 May, 1pm

New SORT crew complete training

Team and Raft

Eight new recruits to the AA's Special Operations Response Team (AA SORT) are completing their training this week. The training is organised into three modules. The first, accredited by RoSPA, trains them in 4x4 driving and use of the specialist Land Rover kit - winches, kinetic ropes and other specialist recovery equipment.

The second, delivered by Rescue 3 (UK), qualifies crew members as Swiftwater Rescue Technicians, rendering them capable of undertaking rescues in a flood environment.

This week, the third and final course brings together the knowledge and capability of the two previous modules. It tests their ability to operate within the AA's defined Safe System of Work, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their key skills, including the ability to make appropriate dymanic risk assessments and to operate safely.

Welcome to the team!

Thursday, 2 May, 10am

Unsettled at first but an improving outlook

With the first May Bank Holiday weekend now fast approaching the weather, for the most of us, should be improving leading to a pleasantly warm Bank Holiday Monday in particular. However, before we move into the weekend the weather is forecast to remain unsettled to end the week and particularly so across Scotland.

Risk of rainfall across Scotland and Northern Ireland

Frontal systems, associated with low pressure, are forecast to affect many areas of Scotland throughout today (Thursday) and also into the majority of Friday as well. As a result there is a risk of a general 20mm to 30mm of rainfall quite widely across Scotland, but particularly so across Western and South-western areas. Here, particularly across the hills of South-west Scotland up to 50mm of rainfall is possible which may well lead to some localised flooding by the end of Friday. I have highlighted which areas are at greatest risk of some large rainfall totals and localised flooding in red on the associated image and with a lower risk across the areas highlighted yellow.

So, once we get Friday out of the way the Bank Holiday weekend should see a gradual improvement in conditions. At the moment a bright and breezy day is expected on Saturday with a mixture of sunshine and showers across northern and western areas of the UK in particular, whilst England and Wales is generally dry after early rain clears away from the south-east. More prolonged spells of rain may affect Scotland and Ireland for a time on Saturday as well, but no heavy or disruptive precipitation is expected.

A real improvement in conditions then takes place during Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday in particular as pressure begins to rise across most areas and some increasingly warm spells of sunshine develop. At the moment both Sunday and Monday are likely to be cloudier across Scotland and Ireland with perhaps some residual patchy rain or showers possible at times, but for England and Wales in particular then it should be a pleasant end to the weekend with maximum temperatures by Sunday and Monday ranging between 15C and 20C and with light winds it will feel pleasantly warm.

So quite a variety of conditions in the coming days and as usual there is always an exception to the rule and that is likely to lead to overall a disappointing few days ahead for Scotland and Ireland, whilst England and Wales see an improvement in conditions in particular with no doubt a few BBQ’s being enjoyed by Bank Holiday Monday.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Wednesday, 1 May, 10am

May 2013 – thoughts and information

With the second spring month nearly done and dusted attention now turns towards May and the final spring month, meteorologically speaking. It should be noted that long range forecasting is not an exact science and the information within this blog is here to provide a potential insight as to how the weather may develop through May and it should be used as such.

Analysis: As is often the case when summarising a month ahead the first half of the month usually has higher confidence regarding the likely weather and with the second half of the month a period of greater uncertainty. At the moment the first half of May is forecast to be a period of transition. After what is likely to be quite a cool and unsettled start to the month into the opening week of May, a likely trend towards higher pressure is currently anticipated into the second week of the month bringing a more sustained period of settled conditions across the UK. The problem with this is where the exact position of any high pressure will become located, as the North Sea, for example, remains distinctly below average temperature wise and any high pressure that may allow for a wind direction that passes over the North Sea could lead to some particularly chilly conditions across parts of UK. The current thinking is that high pressure will be the dominant feature of the weather through May and particularly so during the second week and also around the middle of the month. Towards the third and fourth week confidence does drop away markedly, but at the present time a possible return to more unsettled conditions later in the month seems possible.

Temperatures: There has and continues to be a persistent signal from various forecast models that temperatures over the space of May as a whole are forecast to be near or slightly below average, so a generally cooler than average month is possible. There has been little evidence to support any significant warmth or hot weather developing through the month, despite it likely feeling pleasant away from coastal areas during any periods of high pressure and more settled conditions. But overall I expect the month to be average at best temperature wise, if not trending slightly below average leading to a rather cool month.

Precipitation: Precipitation totals may start off quite high during the opening few days of the month but the trend, as a whole, is for May to produce generally below average precipitation totals. With high pressure more influential than lower pressure through the month then the trend for below average precipitation totals is likely to continue through May. There is little evidence to support a wet or very wet month at this present time.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

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