Belfast Telegraph

Storms batter UK: Blame misbehaving jet stream for chaos

By Amanda Ferguson

It was "another mess of a day". That was the verdict of John Wylie, the Aldergrove-based Met Office adviser for civil contingencies who deals with Stormont, emergency services and local authorities about all things weather-related.

He was speaking about the most recent storm to hit our shores yesterday – the latest in such a long line over the past three months – adding that there had been so many, he had lost count.

As Valentine's Day shoppers in Belfast clung onto bunches of red roses, and their umbrellas were turned inside out by severe gales and wet and wild conditions, Met Office technicians were analysing observation equipment at 15 sites across Northern Ireland.

In most places, it was raining – up to 25mm in some locations – causing localised flooding, and there was also snow in the west.

With two severe weather warnings in place and the incessant rain falling at Aldergrove, the Belfast Telegraph got the opportunity to check out the Met Office computers, revealing a big blue mass of rain, snow and sleet that was engulfing and battering most of our small part of the world.

Mr Wylie explained why it seems to have been raining non-stop since December 2013.

"Wet and windy weather isn't unusual for this time of year, but it's the longevity of the stormy season that we've had that is," he said.

"It's been going on more or less since the start of December. It's all down to a very powerful jet stream across the Atlantic, which in itself is further south than it normally is, so unfortunately that means that the whole of the British Isles is actually in what you would call the reception area for big storms."

Now for the million dollar question – when will the rain stop?

"There probably won't be any significant change in the weather pattern until the jet stream moves," John said.

Unfortunately, the rotten winter weather does not guarantee a summer of wall-to-wall sunshine, but conditions have to improve at some stage.

"Whether that's the spring or autumn, you generally find in any one year the statistics balance out not far from 10% either side of average," said John.

"So, if it's wet now, it will be dry at some point."

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