The Weather Review

Weather Update - March

February continued the windy start to the year; 3 major storm systems hit the UK last month, bringing strong gales and heavy rain. This also led to the month being the wettest February on record, with major flooding affecting large areas of the country.

The disruptive weather is all related to the jet stream. Due to a high temperature differences across North America, the pressure differences higher in the atmosphere are speeding up the stream, which hit speeds of 265mph. This is a lot higher than normal and is accelerating the rate at which the jet stream creates low pressure areas below it, which in turn leads to more rapid development of cyclonic circulation: the process that creates storms. This phenomenon is known as explosive or rapid cyclogenesis and kept us with surplus wind power from our many generators.

The storms have of course brought rain, with those heavy grey clouds keeping solar generation low. Temperatures were above average for most of the month, but as the jet stream has buckled and meandered, we have also experienced short-lived high-pressure systems. This created low temperatures due to the high pressure stopping clouds from forming and allowing more heat to escape overnight.

The changeable conditions have caused issues with energy supply. As previously mentioned, the storms caused problems for LNG deliveries, while the higher speed winds also caused maintenance issues for some turbines. As storms came and went, National Grid worked to ensure there was enough power – even calling on coal plants on some calmer, colder days.

Towards the end of February we saw a low pressure system move over the UK, which in turn drew colder air masses from the Arctic and Russia. This brought further rain, but the colder air meant it snowed at some higher altitude places and caused a higher demand for gas, which was needed for heating.

Looking ahead to the rest of March, early weather models have suggested above average wind, though not quite at the levels we have seen recently. Temperatures should also continue to be well above average for this time of year, with the picture remaining unsettled with low pressure systems.