Thunderstorms replace record mild New Year’s Eve

Heavy rains and strong winds hit parts of England and Wales as thunderstorms replaced the mild, record-breaking New Years weather.

The Met Office, which had issued a weather warning for thunderstorms for Sunday afternoon, said heavy showers and gusts of wind had moved along the south coast.

Heavy downpours also resulted in difficult driving conditions in the southern Pennines.

Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said: ‘The warning was triggered because we had a band of very heavy thunderstorms which started from the Isles of Scilly and passed through the southern third of the UK.

“There was heavy rain in the middle and very strong winds with gusts of 40 to 50 mph along the south coast.

“There was also lightning, not a great deal, along the south coast.”

Heavy rains and strong gusty winds are said to have led to “very difficult driving conditions”.

Mr Partridge said there had been a thin band of rain but “if you were driving on the road you would have probably had probably about 30 minutes of really dangerous driving conditions, it was certainly pretty intense”.

Forecasters had said the rapid thunderstorms could lead to flash flooding, lightning and possible “localized disturbance” in areas such as eastern England, London, the south-east, the south-west and some. parts of Wales.

This followed a period of unusually warm weather in the New Year, due to warm subtropical air coming in from the Azores, which pushed temperatures to around 16 ° C, rather than around 7 ° C, for this time of year.

Cameron Holmes flies through the air on his jet ski in Blyth in Northumberland as Britain enjoys the hottest New Year on record (Owen Humphreys / PA)

The Met Office said 16.3 ° C had been reached in St James’s Park in central London, meaning it is “likely to be confirmed” as a record high temperature for New Years Day .

It came after nighttime temperatures hit 16.5C in Bala, Gwynedd, North Wales, tentatively making it the hottest New Years Eve on record.

Forecasters also said the hot weather would not last beyond early next week.

A temperature of 12.7 ° C, well above average for the time of year, was reached on Sunday in Writtal, Essex, but that will “change everything” for the first week of the new year, according to Mr. Partridge.

Daytime temperatures are expected to drop to 4-6C in Scotland by Tuesday, while they will be 8-9C in the southern half of the UK.

The force of the wind will make it cooler than these numbers and northern Scotland will need to be prepared for “strong northerly winds which will be gales or even severe gales” as well as the possibility of seeing strong winds. snow storm.

Winter weather Jan 2, 2022
People walking on Cromer Pier in North Norfolk (James Manning / PA)

Wind and snow warnings are also in place for the north of Scotland on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mr Partridge said: “The combination of gales and snow showers is why there is a warning for this part of the world.

“The driving conditions will be really dangerous because you won’t see much if you have wind and snow. “

Forecasters say showers and strong winds can lead to difficult driving conditions on higher roads.

Bus, ferry and train services could be affected, with longer trips or even canceled.

The Met Office warning reads: “Frequent snow showers and strong gale force gusts are expected Tuesday, causing travel disruption, especially for higher routes.”

Angus, Grampian, Highlands and Eilean Siar, as well as Orkney and Shetland are among the areas which could be affected.

Areas above 200 meters could be among the most affected, with snowfall reaching 10 to 15 cm in places.

The weather warning adds: “In combination with gusty winds of 50 to 60 mph, maybe 70 mph on exposed peaks, temporary blizzard conditions and snowfall on higher grade roads are likely. .

“Gusts of around 70 mph on the exposed coasts will generate big waves and dangerous coastal conditions in a few places.”

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