How did the Beast from the East come to rage across the UK?

How did the Beast from the East come to rage across the UK?

The Beast from the East is certainly over the UK

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Please note: If you see anyone sleeping rough in tonight's freezing weather, StreetLink can help connect them with local services. Go to or download the app to pass on the info.


The Beast from the East has hit the UK and it's already achieved the seemingly improbable feat of wiping Brexit from the nation's lips. 

The storm has brought chaos and frustration, with the army put on standby, schools closed and British Airways flights grounded. Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few days (and if you have, we hope you've got some kind of portable heating system in there) you'll no doubt have been talking of nothing else.

But what do we actually know about this blast of icy weather? We've heard it's arrived from Siberia - but how exactly did it get here?

Well it was caused by something called a “sudden stratospheric warming" - which might seem surprising, given how brass monkeys it is outside.

Usually at this point in the year there is a polar vortex, which is a mass of cold air sitting above both the North and South Poles of the earth in the upper atmosphere, which is also called the stratosphere. It is this which means the air normally moves from the west to the east.

The vortex is kept in place by a huge amount of low pressure, going around in an anti-clockwise direction in the north and a clockwise direction in the south. The stronger the vortex the closer it will stay to the poles, but the weaker it is the more it will spread.

The vortex can be broken up by an increase in temperature at the North Pole, which is what appears to have happened in this case as it has broken into two. The breaking up of the vortex means cold winds can blow from east to west instead of the opposite direction.

So it appears that the Beast is from the East actually began in the north. If we only knew who came up with these names, we'd give them a call.

Again, you might be surprised to hear the wind has dramatically increased in temperature on its journey to the UK. If you're shivering as you read this, just think on: the wind was around -50 degrees celsius when it started in Siberia.

Unsurprisingly, our friends in Russia have borne a fair brunt of the weather themselves (serves them right really, it's come from their backyard).In Moscow it is thought temperatures could be as low as -24 degrees celsius and in other areas -35.

It won't get as bad as that in the UK, but forecasters reckon the Beast from the East could cause the coldest period of time we've seen in the last 27 years. Temperatures have already been as low as -9 degrees celsius in some areas, and it is thought that between 5cm and 10cm of snow will fall in most UK areas - and this will rise to a frankly ridiculous 40cm in Scotland.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for the majority of the UK until midnight tonight, but the yellow warning is the lowest, with amber and red being the higher alerts. It usually means forecasters expect light snowfall. However this morning, up until midday, the South East, East Midlands and North East of England were under an amber warning for heavy snowfall.

The North East of England and Scotland also has an amber warning in place from 6am tomorrow (February 28) to 12pm on Thursday (March 1). Forecasters believe the high pressure over north-eastern Europe and Scandinavia will determine the weather in the UK for the next couple of days.

However, if you thought this would mean an end to the freezing conditions, you'd be wrong.Storm Emma is then set to meet the Beast from the East, a match made in meteorological hell which will bring snow and strong winds on Thursday (March 1) and Friday (March 2). Suffice to say we won't get the Arctic monkey off our back for a while yet.

But then, as everyone knows, we Brits love talking about the weather. Whether we're moaning about it, or writing funny quips on social media about it, it's a topic of endless national fascination. So perhaps, deep down, we're all slightly grateful for this Siberian interruption - and, as we said, it's great to finally be talking about something other than Brexit.