Parts of the UK hit by snow storms

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On 1 February 2019 a depression lay to the west of the Bay of Biscay, a trough and associated front stretched east over the south of England. A small low developed at the base of this trough, bringing snow to southern England.

Date & Time
01 February 2019 00:00 UTC–02 February 12:00 UTC, 3 February 12:00 UTC
Airmass RGB, High Resolution Visible, Snow RGB

By Ian Mills

The Airmass RGB animation from Meteosat-11, 1 February 00:00–21:45 UTC (Figure 1) shows the front as a white band of cloud stretching across southern England. The development of the low can be seen centered over Wiltshire and moving slowly east.

On the afternoon of 31 January the snow started to fall in Cornwall and by the evening parts of the A30 were closed and more than 100 motorists were stuck on the Bodmin Moor stretch. The local pub, The Jamaica Inn, and even a local supermarket stayed open to accommodate all the stranded people.

Figure 1: Meteosat-11 Airmass animation, 01 Feb 00:00–21:45 UTC

In the Bristol area snow began falling at around 21:00 UTC on 31 January (Figure 2, left) and it was still snowing at 12:00 UTC the next day (Figure 2, right).

Figure 2: Snow in the Bristol area, 31 Jan 21:58 UTC (left) and 1 Feb 10:45 UTC (right). Credit: Sancha Lancaster

Although light and intermittent for most of the time, there were periods of moderate snow leading to accumulations of 15–20 cms in the Bristol area. As a result many schools and Bristol Airport were closed.

The following day, 2 February, the skies were mainly clear over the British Isles. The extent of the snow can been seen in the high resolution visible (HRV) (Figure 3) and Snow RGB (Figure 4) images from Meteosat-11.

Figure 3
Figure 3: Meteosat-11 HRV, 2 Feb 12:00 UTC

It is difficult to distinguish the snow from the cloud in the HRV image, but in the Snow RGB the snow appears in an orange colour, whereas the cloud is white. Further areas of snow can be seen over parts of Northern England and Scotland.

Figure 4
Figure 4: Meteosat-11 Snow RGB, 2 Feb 12:00 UTC

The following day, cloud associated with a warm front moved across Scotland, but the Snow RGB image from 12:00 UTC (Figure 5) shows the extent of the snow in the south was little changed from the day before.

Figure 5
Figure 5: Meteosat-11 Snow RGB, 3 Feb 12:00 UTC

However, on 4 February maximum temperatures over England ranged from 8 to 11 °C and that was the end of the snowy period.

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