Let’s take a look at the extraordinary cold weather coming our way this year.
What is the Beast from the East, and when could it snow?
Forecaster Mark Wilson said the Contingency Planning Forecast – which is used by the government to prep for extreme weather – was predicting the first three months of 2019 were likely to be much frostier than normal.
And Met Office spokesman Simon Partridge said when a similar three-month forecast was issued at the start of last year, those predictions came starkly true.
Last winter, winds from Siberia pushed in from the east, causing the mercury to plummet – with even daytime temperatures struggling to rise above zero.
Partridge said: "Last year there was widespread snow across many parts of the UK and temperatures were well below average.
"There's a higher chance of seeing colder spells, and given that, as a result, there's a slightly higher chance of snow across the UK.
Weather forecasters believe that the snowstorm could hit Britain in late January, although they doubt it will be as severe as last year's cold weather.
The first snow of the year was forecast for northern parts of Scotland last night.
What is a polar vortex?
A polar vortex is a mass of desperately cold air that sits above the Earth’s north and south poles.
This dense, cold air is controlled by a large pocket of low pressure, which rotates in an anti-clockwise direction at the North Pole and clockwise at the South Pole.
The strength of a polar vortex varies from year to year.
When it is strong, the vortex is concentrated over the Arctic or Antarctic area.
But when it is weak – which is more frequent – it can split into two or more freezing vortices.
The phenomenon associated with wintry weather is known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming.
These cover a larger area and can move south to Canada, the USA and Europe, increasing the risk of air temperatures decreasing to potentially dangerous levels.
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