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What If......?

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  • Location: Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire
  • Location: Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire

We all know that March very much has a flavour of winter to it and you can get a lot of snow, some very cold temps and easterlies can still be potent.

In November and early December 2010, the early part of the meterological winter (supposed to be less cold and snowy than late winter) and the end of Autumn (like March, can still be wintry but it's often not quite as cold and snowy), saw one of the UK's most notable cold snaps. Some incredible cold temperatures, but most notably, very impressive convection occured during this period - resulting in very impressive snow depths in the NE.

But imagine such a scenario (that occured in late Autumn - a time that isn't quite as renowned as March for wintryness) occured in early March - just after what's know as the coldest month of the winter. Could it possibly be anywhere near as potent, what conditions would be seen from the Shetland Isles down to the Scily Isles, Coud -20C be reached, will it be snow or sleet in Cornwall, could there possibly be a Forth-Clyde Streamer, would everywhere see snow and where would be the hotspot? Questions, Questions, Questions! Can such a period at the opposite end of winter do the same as what happened at the early end of winter in 2010?


In November 2010, this synoptic brought a lot of snow showers to the N and E. But would it for March?


How would the story of such a cold spell in March unravel like the one in November/December 2010?













So let's make November 25th = March 1st, December 8th = March 14th

Out of the following cities, what would be the largest depth during such a spell and lowest max and min temps.

Aberdeen: 23cm, 1C/-5C

Glasgow: 10cm, 0C/-4C

Belfast: 7cm, 1C/-4C

Newcastle: 25cm, 1C/-5C

Manchester: 8cm, 0C/-4C

Birmingham: 8cm, 0C/-5C

Norwich: 15cm, 0C/-4C

Cardiff: 10cm, 1C/-4C

Bristol: 8cm, 0C/-4C

London: 7cm, 1C/-4C

The largest snow depth during this cold snap for me would be 35cm, NE England.

What would be The lowest daily maximum and minimum values in the 4 nations:

England: -2C (-3.3C), -15C (-21.1C)

Scotland: -3C (-3.9C), -20C (-22.8C)

Wales: -2C (-4.4C), -17C (-21.7C)

Northern Ireland: -1C (-1.2C), -13C (-14.8C)

During this period, the synoptic with the most distruptive snowfall would be March 12th (i.e December 8th).

So after such a spell, would the term "Big Freeze" be at all suitable?

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  • Location: Ashbourne,County Meath,about 6 miles northwest of dublin airport. 74m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Cold weather - frost or snow
  • Location: Ashbourne,County Meath,about 6 miles northwest of dublin airport. 74m ASL

In the last week or so i found myself asking the same question if we had the same synoptics in early March as we had in late NOV/early Dec 2010 how cold or snowy would it be. I never expected that cold spell to be as cold as it was considering the time of year being so early in the winter. I would think though that a similar set up in early March would still not be as cold due the much higher sun although on the other hand increased snowfall because of the higher sun creating more convection.

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  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

It could not be because of one simple fact-the position of the sun

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  • Location: Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire
  • Location: Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire

It would be every bit as snowy, but accumulations would probably melt somewhat during the day due to solar heating.

You'd probably find minima quite similar to early December as the shorter nights would be offset by cooler SSTs. Maxima would be higher due to the sun strength and less chance of cold air trapped at the surface under an inversion. You would however have a higher chance of 'home-grown' convection inland so snow amounts there could be even higher.

Latitude would make a difference too, it would be quite severe in Scotland but not so much in Southern England.

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  • Location: Sunderland
  • Weather Preferences: cold
  • Location: Sunderland

Big freeze is never suitable- it is so sensationalist.

Exceptional cold is preferable.

Were such a spell occur in early March- temperatures at night would be very much cold, with colder SSTs allowing less marginal conditions in eastern areas- however slightly less convection would probably occur- unless the sunlight is very strong.

Daytime temps however would hover above 0c, unlike the many ice days that happened in late Nov- early Dec 2010.

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