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Is Storm Emma about to get worse or are we going to be OK?

We asked the experts

Is Storm Emma about to get worse or are we going to be OK?
02 March 2018

Hand up who’s over the snow. Yep, yep, yep, everyone. It was cute on day one, and now it’s just still there, slippery and cold and full of dog eggs, and there’s probably loads of cats dying all over the country from being stuck in it, and it’s just stillllll therrrrrrrre

Storm Emma is responsible for it apparently, and despite having a name that, when switched around to ‘Emma Storm’, sounds like a six-foot blonde super-spy who models between adventures, Storm Emma seems to be a jerk, a total jerk. 

How much longer is she going to continue to be like this though? How knackered is Britain for the next week or so? We reached out to the people who know more about weather than anyone else in the world, the Met Office. A very helpful man there named Grahame Madge filled us in on why it’s so GODDAMN COLD.


How bad is it?

“The conditions that we’ve had are among the worst since five years ago when we had a similar incident. We had very cold air flowing in in March 2013 which led to very cold conditions. We’ll have to look at the records before we can make any announcement about where this ranks in terms of severity, but we’ve had a flush of red, amber and yellow warnings out covering the whole of the UK. This week we’ve issued two separate red warnings for snow, and only three have ever been issued since the current system came into place in 2011.”

What’s actually going on?

“The conditions that we’ve had creating this environment are that we’ve had an area of high pressure sitting above Scandinavia which has encouraged a flow of very cold air coming in from Arctic Russia. That has brought the temperature across the whole UK down to where sites have struggled to get above freezing on several days this week, even as a daytime high. 

“That has brought in snow showers from the east, affecting everywhere from Kent right the way up into Scotland. What we’ve seen over the last 24 hours has been Storm Emma working its way up the western seaboard of Europe from Portugal up into Northern France, and we’ve had weather fronts extending out, bringing moisture into contact with that cold air, and that’s resulted in heavy snow falling.”

How’s the weekend looking?

“Certainly there is snow and ice in the forecast for tomorrow, but as we go into Monday, the snow and ice warnings will only be in force in very northern England and Scotland. We are expecting conditions to change due to that milder air coming from the south, brought up by Storm Emma, but we’ll see temperatures start to rise above freezing in the south west, which will hopefully bring a thaw. 

“We’re expecting conditions to improve, but northern Scotland could still be in the grip of this into the middle of next week. Beyond the next few days it’s hard to see. These conditions could remain in place for some time, so we could see colder conditions return. However, it does look like conditions will slowly improve. But that improvement will mean it might take some time for the places in the north. It’s going to be a slow transition rather than overnight change.”

This happened five years ago as well - is there a pattern?

“If you’re wondering about climate change or bigger disturbances in weather patterns, this is well within the boundaries of what meteorologists would refer to as natural variation. Generally winters have trended towards being a little bit milder, but variation can sometimes take things the other way.”


Thanks Grahame! Also, talking of the Met, this thing is really good fun. It gives you the weather everywhere in three words. It’s a bit, er, samey today (“SNOW” “SHIT” “SCARY” etc), but on a less-extreme day is really fascinating.

[Image: Char Beck / Unsplash]