2018 British Isles cold wave

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Anticyclone Hartmut
Beast from the East
Satellite view showing Europe, including Great Britain and Ireland partially covered in snow under the lines of the strong cold wave on 27 February 2018
TypeWinter storm, anticyclonic storm, polar vortex
Formed22 February 2018[1]
Dissipated5 March 2018[2]
Highest winds
  • 187 km/h (116 mph)
Highest pressure1056 hPa (31.2 inHg)
Lowest temperature−14.2 °C (6.4 °F) Faversham, Kent[3]
Maximum snowfall
or ice accretion
57 cm (22 in), Gloucestershire, England
Fatalities95 total;[4] 17 in UK[citation needed]
Damage£1.2 billion (2018)[4]
Areas affectedGreat Britain and Ireland; much of continental Europe

Anticyclone Hartmut (dubbed the Beast from the East (Irish: An Torathar ón Oirthear)[5][6][7]) was a storm that began on 22 February 2018, and brought a cold wave to Great Britain and Ireland. Anticyclone Hartmut also brought widespread unusually low temperatures and heavy snowfall to large areas.[8] The cold wave combined with Storm Emma, part of the 2017–18 European windstorm season, which made landfall in southwest England and the south of Ireland on 2 March.

In contrast to usual winter storms, Hartmut was not formed as a normal low pressure area along the jetstream. The initial event was an Arctic outbreak caused by a disordered polar vortex into Central Europe, transporting not only cold air from Siberia to Europe but also - due to the lake effect - sending heavy snowfall into Great Britain and Ireland.

This weather situation repeated itself on the weekend of 17 and 18 March, but was less severe than on the previous occasion, due to the onset of spring. This briefer cold snap was given the name "Mini Beast from the East".

Causes and effects[edit]

Snowfall during the cold wave in Regent's Park, London

The Hartmut cold spell was caused by a large arctic airmass with anticyclonic structure, stretching from the Russian Far East to the British Isles covering large parts of Asia and almost all of Europe. The anticyclone, centred on Scandinavia,[9] was the dominant high pressure area in the weather system and represented its European part. North Asia was covered by other anticyclones that belong to that giant arctic airmass. The anticyclone brought cold easterly winds into Europe and the British Isles leading to snowfall and sub-zero temperatures as a result of freezing air from Siberia.[10][11] Ireland was predicted to experience its worst winter for at least 30 years.[12][13] In the United Kingdom the Met Office issued a red snow warning, meaning a potential risk to life.[14]

Snow-covered street in Bramley, West Yorkshire

The anticyclone was such an intense high pressure system that it evolved into an anticyclonic storm, and was named Hartmut. A gust of 187 km/h (116 mph) was registered in the Øvre Dividal National Park in Norway, relatively near to the anticyclonic centre.[15] Other hurricane-force gusts delivered by Hartmut were registered across Europe, particularly over Scandinavia and the British Isles. Such hurricane-force anticyclonic storms are not extremely rare, but occur less often than cyclonic storms of similar intensity.

Sixteen weather-related deaths include that of a seven-year-old girl in Looe, Cornwall on Thursday 1 March, when she was hit by a car that slid on ice into a bungalow. On Wednesday 28 February, Stephen Cavanagh, 60, died after trying to save his dog from a lake in Welling, South East London. Also on Wednesday, a 46-year-old man died in a crash and a 75-year-old woman was found dead underneath her car in Farsley. A carer from Glasgow died on her way to work and a 52-year-old homeless man was found dead freezing inside his tent. On Tuesday, 27 February, four people died in two separate weather related crashes. A 20-year-old also died after slipping and falling whilst crossing a bridge in Haddington, East Lothian. This followed the death of a man trying to help another driver in the snowy conditions in Bergh Apton, Norfolk who suffered a heart attack. A 70-year-old also died after being rescued from icy cliffs in Torquay.

"Beast from the East" cold wave fatalities
Country Fatalities Notes
Poland 27[16][17][18][19]
UK 17[20][18][21][22] Due to mixed effects of Storm Emma and the cold wave.
Slovakia 7[18][23]
France 7[16][17][18][19]
Czech Republic 6[24]
Romania 6[25][26][16][23][17][19]
Lithuania 5[17]
Spain 3[17]
Serbia 3[23][24][17][27]
Slovenia 3[23][24][17][27]
Italy 3[17]
Sweden 1[28][15]
The Netherlands 1[17]
Germany 1[17]
Denmark 1[24][17]
Bosnia-Herzegovina 1[23][27]
Croatia 1[23][27]
Albania 1[23][17][29]
Bulgaria 1[23]
Total 95

Storm Emma[edit]

Storm Emma brought chaos with heavy snow and strong winds to the South of Ireland, South West England and Southern Wales on 2–3 March 2018 with up to 50 cm (20 in) of snow in some elevated areas.[30] High winds brought disruption to other parts of Great Britain and Ireland. It also brought rail disruption as several trains became stranded, full of passengers, for up to 14 hours.[31] Daytime temperatures were also very suppressed, some places not getting above −12 °C (10 °F).[3]

Mini Beast from the East[edit]

Following a brief spell of warmer weather, a fresh cold snap nicknamed the "Mini Beast from the East" was forecast to bring another covering of snow on the weekend of 17 and 18 March. However, due to the onset of spring, and a higher sun position, it was forecast that the effect would be less severe than on the previous occasion, for the ground was warmer than before, and thus the snow would melt more quickly.[32][33]

Snow showers began to affect parts of Britain and Ireland on 17 March, with north-east England, the North Midlands, and parts of southern England experiencing the heaviest snowfall. The snow was accompanied by strong winds, forecast to be as high as 110 km/h (70 mph), and the Met Office issued an amber weather warning effective from the afternoon of 17 March.[34] Snow showers continued to affect parts of the UK and Ireland on 18 March, with south-west England the most severely affected. The adverse weather conditions forced the cancellation of some sporting events, including the Reading Half Marathon, while Ireland's rugby union team, who had won the 2018 Six Nations Championship, cancelled their homecoming "due to heavy snowfall" with no new date confirmed.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Image 20180222". Institute of Meteorology, Free University of Berlin.
  2. ^ "Image 20180304". Institute of Meteorology, Free University of Berlin.
  3. ^ a b "Snow and low temperatures February to March 2018" (PDF). www.metoffice.gov.uk.
  4. ^ a b "Global Catastrophe Recap" (PDF). Aon. December 2018.
  5. ^ "TÁ AN SNEACHTA AG TEACHT-A". Irish Independent. 28 February 2018 – via PressReader.
  6. ^ "'An Torathar ón Oirthear' nó 'An Sioc ar Buile'? Gaeilge á cur ar 'The Beast From the East'". Tuairisc.ie. 27 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Breacadh, Eag. 42 - Mar a Déarfá!".
  8. ^ Storm, Emma; Calore, Francesca; Weniger, Christoph (2017). Understanding uncertainties in modeling the galactic diffuse gamma-ray emission. 6Th International Symposium on High Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy. AIP Conference Proceedings. Vol. 1792. Author(s). p. 070021. Bibcode:2017AIPC.1792g0021S. doi:10.1063/1.4969018.
  9. ^ "Atmospheric Pressure Chart" (GIF). Met.fu-berlin.de. Retrieved 10 January 2019.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Greenfield, Patrick (26 February 2018). "UK braces for 'beast from the east' as Met Office warns of snow". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  11. ^ Greenfield, Patrick; Rawlinson, Kevin (23 February 2018). "Siberian blast could make southern England colder than the Arctic". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2018. ...Freezing air from Siberia...
  12. ^ Thorne, Peter (26 February 2018). "Q&A: What is causing these severe snow warnings?". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 February 2018. There have been many worse winters in the past, but not in the last 30 years. Met Éireann have a good compendium of historical events available at www.met.ie. ... Peter Thorne is Professor in Physical Geography (Climate Change) at NUI Maynooth and Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit group (Icarus)
  13. ^ LeCouer, Jack (26 February 2018). "Be Ready As Beast Set To Bite". Nova.ie. Archived from the original on 28 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018. Evelyn Cusack from Met Éireann says the winds coming from Siberia will mean it's exceptionally cold, and said it's been more than 30 years since we've seen this kind of weather: "I'm not saying that it's going to be as bad, maybe it'll be worse."
  14. ^ "UK weather: Snow causing widespread travel disruption". BBC News. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Messwerte vom 28.02.2018, 07:00 Uhr – Troms". Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  16. ^ a b c "Deadly storm dubbed 'Beast from the East' pounds Europe". 27 February 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "The Latest: Brussels homeless forced inside amid cold snap | Miami Herald". Archived from the original on 3 March 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d "AFP.com". AFP.com. 16 January 2012.
  19. ^ a b c "Deadly storm dubbed 'Beast from the East' pounds Europe". 27 February 2018.
  20. ^ Duggan, Joe (2 March 2018). "Forty cars involved in huge pile-up as Brits battle home in treacherous weather".
  21. ^ "ABC News". ABC News.
  22. ^ "Ice-Proofing Pays Off as Heathrow Endures Rare London Blizzard". Bloomberg.com. 1 March 2018 – via www.bloomberg.com.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/02/28/latest-cold-weather-kills-mean-in-slovenia-serbia.amp.htm[dead link]
  24. ^ a b c d "The Latest: Cold weather kills mean in Slovenia, Serbia". Fox News. 28 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Two killed as 'Beast from the East' paralyses Europe". ABC News. 28 February 2018.
  26. ^ Onyanga-Omara, Jane. "'Beast from the East' causes death, disruption in Europe". USA TODAY.
  27. ^ a b c d "Deadly storm dubbed 'Beast from the East' pounds Europe – Today World News Online". todayworldnewsonline.com. Archived from the original on 5 April 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  28. ^ "Record-setting cold weather continues to grip Europe". Anadolu Agency.
  29. ^ "The Latest: 'Beast from the East' hits UK with snow, winds | Miami Herald". Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Storm Emma to bring up to 50cm of snow". BBC News. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  31. ^ "What's it like to spend 14 hours stuck on trains?". BBC News. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  32. ^ "'Mini Beast from the East' brings fresh snow warnings". BBC News. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  33. ^ "UK weather: 'Mini Beast from the East' set to grip Britain as Met Office extends weekend snow and ice warnings". The Telegraph. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  34. ^ "Snow and ice sweep across parts of UK". BBC News. 17 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  35. ^ "Travel warnings as snow and ice hit UK". BBC News. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.