A team of climate experts at University College London (UCL) have been studying sunlight, sea temperature and air pressures over the north Atlantic as they try to predict what kind of a winter could be in store for the UK. Their research has suggested the first quarter of 2020 could see the jet stream deflected southwards for weeks on end.
This would mean freezing Arctic air could flow down to Britain and the rest of Europe, bringing conditions harsher than the February 2018 cold spell dubbed the “Beast from the East”.
The cold wave, officially named Antycyclone Hartmut, brought heavy snow and freezing temperatures and resulted in the deaths of 17 people.
They team, led by Professor of Climate Prediction at UCL Mark Saunders, told The Sunday Times: “This would rank the 2020 January-February central England temperature as the coldest winter since 2013.
“It would also rank January-February 2020 as the seventh coldest winter in the past 30 years.”
But they said predictions, four months in advance, are not 100 percent guaranteed, adding “there is a 57 percent chance the central England temperature will be colder than in 2018, thus making it the coldest January-February since 2013.”
The Beast from the East hit Britain and Ireland last year bringing gusts of winds of up to 70mph and temperatures as low as minus 14C to Scotland.
The blast also brought 22 inches of snow to Gloucestershire.
According to the Met Office, the term “Beast from the East” describes a spell of cold and wintry conditions in the UK caused by easterly winds.
It happens when high pressure builds up over Scandinavia which brings a polar continental air mass to Britain and continental Europe.
The predictions come after Britain experienced its hottest day on record, 38.7C recorded in Cambridge in July.
This week the UK is expected to welcome the remnants of Hurricane Dorian which made landfall in the Caribbean last week killing 43 people.
On Tuesday northern parts of the UK will experience gusts of 50mph while 35mph winds will hit the south, according to the Met Office.
Localised flooding is also expected in parts of Britain and areas of Scotland have been warned they could be hit with up to two inches of rain.