Major snowstorm paralyzes London

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:39 PM GMT on February 03, 2009

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Heavy snow in London, England yesterday did something the Nazi Blitz could not--stop the city bus system. The heaviest snow in 18 years hit the city yesterday, when eight inches (20 cm) of snow blanketed the city. All five major airports in the region closed, all London city buses were pulled off the streets, and the subway system was nearly paralyzed by the snows. It was the heaviest snow since February 7, 1991, when 25 cm fell. In that storm, wind-driven snow drifts of up to three meters (ten feet) crippled road and rail networks across the country.

Heavy snows are rare in London, due to the moderating influence of the ocean waters that surround the British Isles. The prevailing winds from the west or northwest pass over these ocean waters, which are heated by the warm Gulf Stream Current. This makes rain the usual form of winter precipitation for London. Monday's snowstorm was made possible by a strong high pressure system over Scandinavia, whose clockwise flow pumped cold air from western Russia westward over the North Sea and into Britain. A trough of low pressure that formed in this cold air mass moved over Britain, bringing heavy snow. As the cold air accompanying the trough passed over the relatively warm waters of the North Sea, it picked up moisture and instability, enhancing the snows over England in a manner similar to Lake Effect snowstorms over the Great Lakes of North America. The instability of the air mass within Monday's snowstorm was so intense that several UK locations reported "thundersnow", a very rare occurrence in the British Isles. Monday's snow storm also caused traffic problems in France, Switzerland, and Spain. The storm spawned a possible EF2 tornado in southern Spain, as well.

This winter has been the coldest winter since 1996-1997 for England and Wales. Minimum temperatures were as much as 2°C below average in December in western portions of the UK. A cold air outbreak the first week of January brought some of the coldest temperatures seen in southern England since 1991.


Figure 1. AVHRR visible satellite image of the United Kingdom on February 2, 2009, at 13:28 GMT. A strong trough of low pressure, propelled by a cold arctic flow of air from Russia, is crossing over London, dumping heavy snow. Image credit: University of Bern, Switzerland.

I'll have a new post Wednesday or Thursday.
Jeff Masters

SMUDGE (Chros49)
SMUDGE

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Friday Morning........a little better...
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting TampaSpin:
Tuff 2 nites coming for the Florida Farmers....WOW

Tomorrow Morning.......


Thursday Morning.......

Oh, yes, those are some pretty cool temps for us down here. Hopefully the crops make it through this next round of freezing temps.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tuff 2 nites coming for the Florida Farmers....WOW

Tomorrow Morning.......


Thursday Morning.......

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
no!!..lol
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Morning all: Amazing storm in London. Pretty nice here with a few clouds and possibly more rain.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


I said Tuesday nite......LOL....


Ahh ok :)
still think it might happen?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Orcasystems:


No snow :(, you said snow Tuesday :(

Complete Blog Refresh
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I said Tuesday nite......LOL....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting TampaSpin:
Morning everyone 52deg in Tampa with a 15mph wind......sheeeeeh.....burrrr......


No snow :(, you said snow Tuesday :(

Complete Blog Refresh
Mirror Site
New Section includes Mt Redoubt
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Morning everyone 52deg in Tampa with a 15mph wind......sheeeeeh.....burrrr......
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting KEHCharleston:

I have often felt like taking a bite out of anyone waking me from a winter nap - Good for "Chuck"
How much mayor could a wood chuck chuck if.....


I'd bite him too!
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
I'm interested to see how they will tie this event to global warming.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Morning everyone.. This should have been in the last blog.. NYC groundhog "Chuck" bit Mayor Bloomberg during the ceremony.

I have often felt like taking a bite out of anyone waking me from a winter nap - Good for "Chuck"
How much mayor could a wood chuck chuck if.....
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Yes I believe it is winter now. Good morning all and appreciate the statistics on the English weather this winter.
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Dat's a Wise Groundhog Skyepony..

..seem's Chuck wanted a "Chunk" of Bloomberg.
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3. Skyepony (Mod)
Morning everyone.. This should have been in the last blog.. NYC groundhog "Chuck" bit Mayor Bloomberg during the ceremony.
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Good morning Doc, thanks
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.