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No repeat of 'Beast from East' but it's cold comfort

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Northern Ireland is set for more very cold weather, but fears have been eased of a repeat of 2018's 'Beast from the East'. (David Cheskin/PA)

Northern Ireland is set for more very cold weather, but fears have been eased of a repeat of 2018's 'Beast from the East'. (David Cheskin/PA)

Northern Ireland is set for more very cold weather, but fears have been eased of a repeat of 2018's 'Beast from the East'. (David Cheskin/PA)

Northern Ireland is set for more very cold weather, but fears have been eased of a repeat of 2018's 'Beast from the East'.

The sub-zero blast was down to what meteorologists describe as a sudden stratospheric warming event, which causes the wind direction to change.

The Met Office stressed, however, that even though the UK would experience a repeat of this change in weather system, it did not necessarily mean that a second 'Beast from the East' was on the way. The change, which can take around two weeks for its effects to be shown in forecasts, is expected to take place overnight on Saturday and into the start of next week. At that point, the wind direction could change for the British Isles from the Atlantic to the colder north or north-easterly direction.

The 'Beast from the East' brought chaos to much of the UK in 2018, with schools and travel disruption caused by heavy snow and sub-zero conditions.

A snow warning was issued as the sub-zero cold snap hit Northern Ireland for a week. Around 25cm of snow was recorded in Glenaan, Co Antrim.

Meteorologist Alex Burkill said on Friday: "It is unlikely that we are going to have a return of the 'Beast from the East' in the immediate future. What we are likely to see is a change in our wind direction. At the moment, it's coming from the north, a very cold direction, from the Arctic to more of a north or north-easterly direction next week.

"With that in mind, it could bring some wintry weather from the east, but it's not quite the 'Beast from the East' direction.

"It doesn't look like we will get that quite yet."

The weather expert said as the month continues there is some uncertainty about the impact of the wind direction on the UK and it's "definitely one to watch".

"There are signs we could have some very cold weather, but there's no guarantee that it will occur," he added.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland can on Saturday expect scattered, frequent showers coming in from the north and some possible sleet and snow over higher ground. The mercury will also drop across the country, with highs of three degrees Celsius that, when accompanied by a northerly breeze, will feel much colder.

"Sunday itself will be quite a bit drier than Saturday. It will be sunny but still cold," said Mr Burkill. The meteorologist explained that when the north or north-easterly wind direction does happen, Northern Ireland will be a "bit more sheltered from it".


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