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On This Day: 1953 East Coast Flood

Image: 160,000 acres of land, up to 2 miles inland, was flooded and unusable for several years afterwards (Source: The Royal Society)

On night of 31st January 1953 Britain suffered one of its greatest peacetime disasters: a fatal combination of extreme weather conditions, high spring tides and an inability to warn people meant that huge numbers of people were unaware of an imminent storm surge that was about to inundate low lying areas of East Anglia and the Thames Estuary, as well as parts of Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

On This Day: Burns Day Storm 1990

Image: Highest gusts of over 60 knots (69 mph) recorded on 25 January 1990 (Source: Met Office)

On 25th January 1990 - otherwise known as Burns Day to the Scots, the day marking the birthday of their national poet, Robert Burns - an intense depression tracked across southern Scotland bringing severe gales and storm force winds to many parts of England and Wales.

2016 Hottest Year on Record

Analysis from the Met Office and WMO show that 2016 was the warmest on record. The Met Office’s provisional full-year figures for global average near-surface temperatures showed that last year was one of the warmest two years on record, marginally exceeding the record temperature of 2015. The analysis used the HadCRUT4 dataset, produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre and University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, which estimated global temperature. When compared to the 1961-1990 long-term average, this is +0.77±0.1 degC, compared to +0.76±0.1 degC for 2015.

Mysterious lightning

Sprites are more than just mythical creatures — they are an electrical phenomenon that occurs high above active thunderstorms at altitudes above 50km (30 miles).

Sprites are rarely observed, however when they do appear they are a large but faint, reddish-orange flash that is nearly impossible to witness with the naked eye. The phenomenon is best viewed at night and also from a distance of at least 150km away. Despite it being a challenge, sprites are best captured on camera using highly-sensitive equipment, and although difficult, it is not impossible as this image shows.  

How does hoar frost form?

Under clear, cold nights in winter, a hoar frost can form.

A hoar frost forms in a similar process to that of dew; the difference being that ice crystals are deposited, as opposed to water, because the temperature of the surface is below freezing.

Hoar frosts most commonly attach themselves to the branches of trees, leaves and grasses, but can also be seen on objects such as gates and flowerpots. Sometimes the deposits can be so thick that it may even look like a dusting of snow has fallen, creating a typical winter wonderland day.  

Dreaming of a white Christmas

Now it’s December, one of the questions we are often asked as meteorologists is “Will it be a white Christmas?” The first thing to clarify, is what exactly is being asked – do you want to know if anywhere in the UK will see a single snow flake or are you envisaging streets and roofs with a dusting of the white stuff when you wake up on 25 December.