This week’s weather watch column: “Fairly benign February gloom”

Weather warning ENGPPP00720131223174730 ENGPPP00720131223174730

Weather warning ENGPPP00720131223174730 ENGPPP00720131223174730

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Here in the UK, we are just emerging from a notably cold spell, which saw easterly winds drag bitter continental air across our shores, bringing outbreaks of sleet and snow amid the fairly benign February gloom. In stark contrast, the southern hemisphere summer has been bringing scorching heat to parts of Australia, with records being broken in recent days.

Large swathes of Australia have sweltered in heatwave conditions so far this month. A high of 47.2C was recorded in Thargomindah over the weekend, marking Queensland’s hottest February day on record.

Further south, in New South Wales, Sydney’s February record was broken on Friday, when it reached 42.9C.

The sheer persistence of the heat is also breaking records; the South Australian capital, Adelaide, exceeded 40C on three consecutive days last week, the first time this has happened since 1914.

Back home, as we reach the middle of February, it’s always very tempting to wonder whether winter has been and gone, or if there could still be another sting in its tail. Of course, meteorologically speaking, winter ends in two weeks’ time, but if you cast your mind back four years, winter 2013 hadn’t even reached its coldest at this point in the season. March 2013 was the coldest month of that (somewhat-extended) winter, the first time since 1975 that March was the coldest month of winter. The mean temperature then was just 2.2C, which is 3.3C below the average for March. Needless to say, such extreme and prolonged cold so late in the winter is rare in the UK. Certainly over the next week or so, temperatures are expected to hover around average or above, with rain moving in from the Atlantic at times.