Met Office releases statement on ‘snow bomb’ threat in the UK?

The UK in the midst of a prolonged cold snap, with temperatures plunging below freezing and many areas seeing heavy snow in the past week.

A series of Met Office warnings were in place on Sunday over freezing fog, which carried the risk of increased air pollution and difficult driving conditions.

While the colder conditions are forecast to lift in the week ahead, some news outlets have reported that the UK could then be hit by a “snow bomb” at the start of February – here’s everything you need to know.

Will a ‘snow bomb’ hit the UK?

It might sound incredibly ominous, but “snow bomb” isn’t a recognised meteorological term.

Dr Matthew Box, Senior Operational Meteorologist at the Met Office, confirmed it “is not an official Met Office term and it is not one that we use”.

While again not an official term, the idea of a “weather bomb” – such as the recent “bomb cyclone” which wreaked havoc during storms in the US – is more concrete.

The Met Office describes a “weather bomb” as “an unofficial term for a low pressure system whose central pressure falls 24 millibars in 24 hours in a process known as ‘explosive cyclogenesis’”.

While it might not be a “snow bomb”, Dr Box did indicate that another cold spell could be coming to the UK in February, although it would still be a few weeks away.

He said: “Currently some models are predicting that a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) event will occur through late January or early February.

“SSW events take a few weeks to have any effect on surface weather, but when they do occur they increase the likelihood of outbreaks of cold arctic air affecting the UK.

“So at present we wouldn’t expect any increase in the probability of a cold spell initiated by the forecast SSW until the middle of February.”

What is the latest weather forecast?

A Met Office weather warning for fog has been issued for a large area of central and eastern England on Monday, from quarter past midnight until 11am.

It warns: “Freezing fog will lead to difficult driving conditions and could cause travel delays in some areas on Monday.”

Commuters are warned to expect slower journey times, with delays to bus and train services possible and the potential for flights to be delayed or cancelled.

The Met Office yellow warning for fog in place on Monday morning (Photo: Met Office)

However, Met Office meteorologist Craig Snell said the worst of the cold spell is over, with temperatures expected to climb next week across the whole of the UK.

Mr Snell said: “Next week, looking at the severe front, it’s looking pretty benign. We’re starting to lose the risk of fog and temperatures are generally around where they should be.

“We’ll probably lose the really hard frosts. In terms of ice and snow, it certainly looks like we’re over the worst.

“We’ve got to keep an eye on the risk of fog generally this cold spell, although the main hazards from it look like they are beginning to diminish.”

He added that temperatures would be lower in the South – which is often warmer than other areas of the country – because of a change in wind direction in the North West.

The change will see the Arctic blast that swept across the UK over the past week giving way to warmer air from the Atlantic, but will take longer to reach southern areas.

Looking further ahead, Dr Box said: “The forecast for early February is broadly for high pressure to be centred near to the south or the southwest of the UK bringing often settled conditions to these parts.

“Northern areas of the UK should be quite changeable with some spells of wetter and windier weather. Temperatures are likely to be milder than average overall, although this does not preclude brief, colder spells and overnight frosts.”