The weather review: February

The start of 2020 we saw relatively mild conditions for the time of year, with the temperatures every now and then peeked above 10 degrees but will mostly hovered around the 8- or 9-degree mark. Wind speeds were relatively high and solar was high(ish, for the time of year at least!).

As we arrived into 2020 you may have seen people on social media joining the #10yearchallenge (mostly just pictures of people from around 2010 with bad haircuts); the Met Office did one for the UK - you’ll see from the image below the stark difference from 2010 – 2020. The snowy conditions of 2010 occurred because the Polar Vortex split in December 2009 and sunk down over north-western Europe, bringing with it the cold we would normally expect (just like the Beast from the East in 2018). This year however, the PV is strong and remains anchored in its normal location at the pole. This isn’t to say that it won’t split and bring prolonged cold later this winter, but what it does show is that the wider climatic drivers of weather are changing, making it harder to forecast.

Mid-January brought a return to December’s high winds, with Storm Brendan blowing in from the Atlantic. Trees were uprooted, wind turbines were spinning and wheelie bins toppled across the nation.

As we moved into the second half of the month, weather conditions were driven by a storm system brewing over the north east USA. As it drifted out into the Atlantic, it buckled the jet stream around it. This meandering causes lower pressures to develop around Greenland. The jet stream can act a bit like a vacuum, sucking air up nearby and intensifying low pressure systems. And as it moves away from us, it allows high pressure to build up over the UK. Got to have a high to have a low.

Typically, high pressure systems bring clear skies and sun, as moist surface air can’t rise to form clouds and this is what we saw: cold mornings and frozen windscreens. This also resulted in lots more solar generation than we would usually expect – good for our FiT customer base.

Looking at February, current weather models are forecasting a mild month with short-lived periods of cold. The start of the month may well be unsettled, particularly in the north of the UK, but winds will not be especially high.

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