When was the last Beast from the East? Met Office explains winter weather event
There have recently been predictions of the return of a similar storm to the Beast from the East, the 2018 storm that brought freezing temperatures, heavy snow strong winds to the UK along with power cuts and travel disruption.
A combination of a meteorological phenomenon known as sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) and a polar vortex brought the 2018 Beast from the East, and there has been speculation the same thing is about to occur again.
Last month, on February 16, another sudden stratospheric-warming event took place.
By Tuesday next week (March 7), the whole of the UK is expected to experience a cold wave with the return of overnight frost.
From Sunday evening, as the cold air moves in, sleet and snow showers will begin to pepper the northern isles and north Scotland, before pushing southwards through Monday and into Tuesday.
There is some good news: the Met Office said there is the possibility it may become milder in the south through the middle of March and beyond.
But what exactly was the Beast from the East and what was its impact?
What is a Beast from the East?
The Met Office says the Beast from the East is a phrase “used to describe cold and wintry conditions in the UK as a result of easterly winds from the near continent”.
It occurs when pressure is high over Scandinavia and the UK experiences a polar continental air mass. When this happens in winter, cold air is brought in from Eurasia, or from the east.
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If the cold air comes over the North Sea, it becomes unstable and usually results in rain or snow, particularly on the east coast of the UK.
The polar continental air reaches the UK between November and April.
When was the last Beast from the East?
The UK was hit by a Beast from the East in February 2018.
From February 24, 2018, until March 4, 2018, Anticyclone Hartmut hit the UK, bringing with it unusually low temperatures and heavy snow.
Now known as the 2018 British Isles cold wave, the storm caused widespread disruption across the UK, while a red-weather warning for snow was issued for south-west England and south Wales.
Hundreds of people were stranded in their cars for hours, with the military called in to help rescue drivers and passengers. A major incident was declared in parts of south-west England over concerns medical staff could not reach hospitals.
Train companies operated reduced services and airports cancelled or delayed flights.
Some people died in the storm, such as in car accidents caused by icy conditions.