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UK Storm Case Study - Beast from the East

Extreme weather event in the UK – The BEAST from the EAST

Key words
Extreme weather - This is when a weather event is significantly different from the average or usual weather pattern, and is especially severe or unseasonal. This may take place over one day or a period of time.
Immediate responses - The reaction of people as the disaster happens and in the immediate aftermath.
Long term responses - Later reactions that occur in the weeks, months and years after the event.


  1. The Beast from the East (25 February) was caused by a change to the northern polar jet stream, which twisted its direction unexpectedly, drawing in cold air to the UK from the east.
  2. This bending was caused by a jump in temperatures high over the Arctic, known by meteorologists as sudden stratospheric warming (During the winter, a blob of extremely cold air spins clockwise in the stratosphere above the Arctic. It is particularly cold due to the total lack of sunlight hitting the Arctic at this time.If the cold blob starts to spin slower, the air will rush back inwards. Think what happens when you are stirring a cup of tea very fast, and then stop. As it slows down, this air sinks through the atmosphere, becomes warmer, and then even starts to spin the opposite way. Reversing the Uk's normal westerly winds with an easterly. Source)
  3. This unexpected warming weakened the jet stream that brings warm air in from the Atlantic to Ireland and Britain, this allowed COLD air in from the East
  4. So cold air from thousands of miles away is dragged over to us, bringing a severe chill – though the air is a lot warmer when it arrives at our doorstep, having risen from -50°C.
  5. This air picked up moisture over the North Sea bringing SNOW
  6. This affected mainly the East coast and dumped a huge amount of snow on the UK
  7. Then on the 1st of March a depression called Storm Emma started to move in from the SE (from the Atlantic) across Cornwall causing even more snow as it hit the cold air sat over the UK.  This caused the Met Office to issue Red weather warnings.

Causes Beast from east

Primary effects
1. A man died in London after being pulled from a frozen lake, whilst there were 3 other reported deaths
2. Huge amounts of snow where dropped on the East coast of the UK and in the Scottish Borders
3. Up to 50cm (19 inches) of snow in parts of Dartmoor, Exmoor and uplands parts of south-east Wales accompanied by gales or severe gales in exposed areas.
4. Gusts of 60-70mph in parts of northern England and Wales.
5. Rural areas experienced temperature lows of -12°C
6. Snow drifts were as high as 7m in places
7. Many coastlines were also issued with flood warnings

Secondary effects
1. British Airways cancelled hundreds of short-haul flights from Heathrow, and London City Airport also cancelled many services.
2. Hospitals in Glasgow, Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole cancelled all outpatient appointments while Harrogate hospital asked staff who can walk to work to go in to cover shifts
3. Thousands of schools were closed
4. Scottish Premiership postponed its games
5. Police in Macclesfield said they arrested two suspected thieves after tracking their footprints through the snow
6. Hundreds of people were trapped in their vehicles for hours, on the A31 for example
7. There were many lorries that crashed or jack knifed
8. The weather cost the UK millions. The AA estimated that there were 8,260 collisions on Britain’s roads from the snow chaos in just three days, with the insurance cost  above £10m. Two thirds of them due to snow and ice.
9. Some supermarkets saw a rush of customers. There were reports of shelves being stripped of bread, milk and soup.
10. A baby was born on the A66 near Stockton-on-Tees after the parents failed to make it hospital as a result of the snow
11. There were multiple accidents on Britain's roads, including major incidents on the A1 in Northumberland
12. Major shopping centres and businesses closed early.
13. There were worries the UK could run out of Gas

• Stranded drivers were given foil blankets
• The Army were called in to help people when Storm Emma hit
Councils had to send out gritters and snow ploughs to clear the roads
Drivers of a Greggs Devlivery van, stuck on the A1 near Newcastle, gave out free food to stranded drivers
• The Met Office issued "red Warnings" for several areas, including the belt between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and
• Public Health England (PHE) urged people to plan ahead to ensure they have enough food and medicine.
• Rail passengers were warned to avoid travelling to or from Scotland on Thursday while in Kent 50 stations closed.
• Cleveland Mountain Rescue took district nurses around rural elderly patients in East Cleveland and North Yorkshire Moors. They also ran NHS staff into James Cook at Middlesborough to keep services running
• Army and Royal Air Force personnel were called in to ferry health workers through blocked roads in Lincolnshire and in Scotland. Ten RAF 4x4 vehicles with 20 airmen began transporting health staff from dawn in Lincolnshire after an urgent request from local police.

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