06/02/17: Electricity North West weather watch
The weather can have a big impact on the local power network. That’s why we’re slightly obsessed with forecasts here at Electricity North West.
We work hard to make the network as resilient as possible, but there are some things we can’t control. Strong winds can blow branches or whole trees onto overhead power lines and lightning is also bad news for overhead lines. Localised flooding can affect underground cables and substations.
What we can (and do) do is cut back trees near lines, install appropriate flood defences and invest in automatic restoration systems, so that if the weather does cause a power cut, we can get it back as quickly as possible. We also have teams on standby 24-hours a day ready to fix any faults or issues out on the network. Find out more about our winter preparations here.
Oh, and we love our forecasts. Through our partnership with MeteoGroup we’re going to be sharing our North West weather intel with you every month. Let us know what you think, and send us your weather pics, by getting in touch on Facebook or Twitter.
Look back: December/January
As January draws to a close, you might be wondering how winter is shaping up so far. Statistics show that conditions have so far been slightly drier and milder than average across the North West, with high pressure often situated close by.
Of most significance was the unsettled spell of weather around the Christmas period. The 23rd was particularly wet and windy as Storm Barbara passed to the north of Scotland, bringing gusts of over 60mph and rainfall totals of 40mm across Cumbria, with some wintry showers over the hills.
Much of the region saw its first significant snow of the season from 11th-13th of January, and gusts of 60-70mph caused some damage and disruption across Cumbria. Overnight frosts were more frequent compared to December, with air temperatures dipping below zero on around half of all nights. Conditions have been quieter since mid-January, with high pressure shifting to the east. Daytime temperatures struggled to rise much above freezing in places, and the coldest night of the month followed as temperatures dipped to -7.2C at Shap in Cumbria. However, the month ended on a milder, wetter note as high pressure retreated to the east, allowing frontal systems to edge in from the Atlantic. This is a pattern that looks to persist as we move into February.
Look forward: February
As we look ahead to the coming month, a complicating factor for February’s forecast is a sudden stratospheric warming event, which is currently taking place. Such events normally happen once every two or three winters and tend to be triggered by persistent weather anomalies over some parts of the northern hemisphere.
This means stubborn areas of high pressure are more likely to form over northern Europe, while the low pressure track shifts south towards Spain and Italy. These areas of high pressure, sometimes termed ‘blocks’ can prevent prevailing mild south-westerly winds from reaching the UK, increasing the risk of cold air outbreaks from the north and east, as seen during mid-late winter 2013 and 2010.
Weather models can struggle to get a good handle on this kind of weather connection or coupling between the stratosphere and near surface weather patterns. Each event is different and it is often a fine balance as to how much the weather over Europe will be disrupted. We’re seeing some volatility in the forecast model output for the first couple of weeks in February. At least the first week of the month and early into the second week should be on the mild side with frequent spells of wind and rain, as a number of areas of low pressure move in from the Atlantic overhead the UK. During the end of the second week of February there are some signs that high pressure will become more dominant over Scandinavia and Central Europe, suggesting something of a downturn in wind and rain, and a higher chance of drier, but colder weather. Indeed, some weather models are hinting at a spell of cold easterly winds for a few days and some snow showers in the east.
From Meteorologist Billy Payne from MeteoGroup
In the event of an unexpected power cut you can contact us 24/7 on the new free national number 105 or call 0800 195 4141 or let us know on Twitter @ElectricityNW.
If you need extra support, sign-up to our Priority Service Register here. To discover more about the extra support on offer watch our Priority Service video here.
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