Fears of new 'Beast from the East' as cold snap predicted

Bury St Edmunds after being hit by the Beast from the East Picture: GREGG BROWN

Could the Beast from the East 2021 be heading to Suffolk this January? This was Bury St Edmunds during the 2018 storm Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: GREGG BROWN

Snowy weather, freezing temperatures and harsh frosts could hit Suffolk and north Essex during January in what forecasters fear may be a second coming of the 'Beast from the East'.

Heavy snow battered the region during a cold snap in February 2018 sparking travel chaos, closing hundreds of schools, and cutting off entire communities. 

Now experts are predicting a similar weather pattern to the phenomenon which swept the Beast from the East into Suffolk three years ago.

Met Office forecasters say a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) could be about to begin, where the temperature of the air high up in the stratosphere soars.

The Beast From the East covered Ipswich Waterfront in a blanket of snow. Picture: EMILY TOWNSEND

Ipswich Waterfront during the original Beast from the East, as forecasters predict a cold snap for January 2021 Picture: EMILY TOWNSEND - Credit: EMILY TOWNSEND

It means winds in the polar vortex could change direction and bring cold air from Siberia into the UK.

Such a storm could take two weeks to develop and there is no guarantee the warming will have any impact, with one out of every three SSW events bringing no cold weather at all. 

Dan Holley, a meteorologist at East Anglian service Weatherquest, said it was too early at the moment to predict the outcome.

"We haven't even had the sudden stratospheric warming event yet, that's due in the next 10 days or so," he added.

"Then the question is will that influence the troposphere, where our weather takes place?

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"If it does, then that may bring an increased risk, but not a guarantee, of cold weather in late January. If the SSW doesn't influence the troposphere then it may have little impact on us.

"Either way, we'd be looking at late January for any influence from the SSW."

Meanwhile, meteorologists at the Met Office are predicting widespread frost, sleet and some snow across most of the UK by mid-January.

Gritters are heading out across Suffolk on Saturday evening as temperatures are predicted to plunge below zero.

Next week, a strong easterly wind is expected to develop with a chance of wintry showers from Monday to Wednesday.

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