Many woke up to another scene straight out of a movie this morning; thick fog and a hard frost. Problematic. Frustrating. Dangerous. Undeniably beautiful.
But how unusual is it? It IS winter, after all and let’s face it, anything chilly would feel exceptional compared to the last couple of winters which were noticeably mild.
The lowest temperature of the season so far is -12.1C in Braemar, Scotland.
Cold, but still some way off the record low of -27.2C recorded there in January 1982.
We had some very cold conditions at the back end of November last year.
But it was the current cold streak caused by a plunge of arctic air on 11th/12th January that gave the first significant snow for the Scottish mountains and a covering fairly widely across much of the UK.
After turning briefly milder, the cold air returned with a vengeance towards the end of last week giving us some sharp overnight frosts,especially in the south with -8C recorded at Writtle in Essex and South Farnborough, Hampshire into Sunday morning.
Love it or hate it, spare a thought (whilst you’re scraping your car windows) for those in central and eastern Europe.
In places they have seen their coldest winter for over a century with significant snowfall and lows approaching -50C!
And just in case you’re wondering, even that is positively balmy compared to the coldest temperature ever recorded; an unimaginable -89.2C in Antarctica, 1983!
So we’re far from record-breaking - but that’s not to say that the current run of things isn’t unusual.
We would expect that central south eastern areas of the UK to be the mildest and northern and western parts to bear the brunt of the harshest winter conditions.
Instead, there have been a number of occasions where the Shetland Isles have been warmer than parts of the Med.
The culprit? The huge and dominating area of high pressure sitting across central Europe.
It’s responsible for the extreme cold there and, when it drifts a little westwards, catches much of England, Wales and eastern Scotland in it’s icy periphery.
Whilst at the same time, blocking the advance of any Atlantic frontal systems that may bring both rain and milder air.
Instead, those advancing frontal systems get stuck on our western shores and the associated (comparatively mild) mid Atlantic air pulls temperatures back up again; occasionally 10C above what eastern areas are experiencing!
You’ll often hear weather presenters refer to a ‘battleground’ between high and low pressure or warm and cold air – and that’s certainly what we’re seeing for the foreseeable future.
The European high drifts a little eastwards in the next couple of days and Ireland, much of Scotland and south east England warm up.
Then by Thursday, that high pressure drifts back westwards giving us all, perhaps, the coldest day of the season so far.
Even so… it’s still a long way from 89.2C!