The weather phenomenon known as a ‘Sudden Stratospheric Warming’, makes air above the North Pole incredibly warm, pushing bitter conditions southwards
A PROLONGED period of “wild” freezing conditions is set to hit Scotland and the US later this month because a polar vortex is pushing incredibly cold air away from the arctic.
The phenomenon associated with wintry weather, is known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW), during which air above the North Pole becomes incredibly warm.
SSW conditions triggered the month long Big Freeze in December 2010 where Brits were forced to endure a month of severe snow showers.
During the season, temperatures in Manchester reached record lows of -16.4C, and in Scotland the mercury plunged to -22C.
Over the last few days, the polar vortex split in two, sweeping bitterly cold air from Siberia, leaving south, eastern and central regions of the UK bearing the bitter conditions.
This year’s SSW event, will see chilling conditions engulf the latter part of February and through into March, leaving a chance of heavy snowfall.
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Professor Adam Scaife from the Met Office Hadley Centre said: “Signs of this event appeared in forecasts from late January and in the last few days we have seen a dramatic rise in air temperature, known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming, at around 30km above the North Pole.
“This warming results from a breakdown of the usual high-altitude westerly winds and it often leads to a switch in our weather: with cold easterly conditions more likely to dominate subsequent UK weather.”
The Met Office said temperatures could plunge as early as Wednesday, and overnight temperatures could settle around -3C.
A spokesperson added: “From Tuesday to Thursday there is still a lot of uncertainty. There are two different tracks, one that we retain that mild westerly feel and continual warm weather, interspersed with colder periods.
“The other possibility is cold conditions coming in from the east.”
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