Holidaymakers planning to visit beaches and festivals in the south of the United Kingdom this August Bank Holiday weekend have been warned by weather forecasters that unseasonably bad weather could ruin their plans and cause travel chaos on English and Welsh motorways, according to a new report out today by The Guardian newspaper.
The Meteorological Office (Met Office), the U.K.’s national weather institute, is predicting cold and damp weather to cover most of southern Britain, possibly impacting visitors to the Notting Hill Carnival in west London, as well as sunseekers traditionally heading out to popular beaches like Brighton, Great Yarmouth and Shoeburyness. The Met Office has also issued a ‘yellow’ weather warning for southern England on Monday. The rest of the British Isles will escape the worst of the rainy weather, but will still feel cold despite spells of sunshine. On Monday itself, Scotland and northern England will feel cold to start off with, but average midday temperatures are predicted to reach 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Ironically the Bank Holiday for August is only marked in England and Wales and is not being observed in Scotland. The precipitation and likelihood of ruined holidays and unsafe driving conditions could temporarily dent the British tourism industry, which usually sees record numbers of ‘staycation’ tourists taking advantage of an extra day off work and the long weekend to go on short breaks to the seaside and other places of interest. The tourism body Visit England is expecting five million Britons to plan an overnight holiday trip this weekend.
A short spell of heavy rain was reported yesterday in the east London area at around 6:00 pm and lasted for approximately twenty minutes according to one observer, despite much of the day having fine and sunny weather. The Met Office expects heavy rain and winds to roll in across the south on Monday, ruining the last long Bank Holiday weekend of 2014. Their yellow weather alert could spell disaster for people using motorways as they return from weekend breaks as surface water on the tarmac will make driving conditions more hazardous. Overnight temperatures, which are already considerably low for this time of year, will plummet to freezing point during this weekend with the first frosts appearing in the north of the UK since the summer weather dissipated. Monday’s weather warning will apply to parts of Wales, London, south-east England, as well as the south-west and East Anglia regions, where temperatures will be at an unseasonal average of 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Met Office said: “Heavy rain is expected to affect many southern areas of Britain at times during bank holiday Monday, with strong winds a possible additional factor close to southern coasts. The public should be aware that there may be some impacts to holiday traffic and other outdoor activities.
“A complex area of low pressure looks like bringing an unpleasant day’s weather to much of the south on Monday. Rainfall amounts look like exceeding 20mm quite widely, while a few places might see around 40mm, so there will be a lot of surface water and spray on roads.
“The spray will probably be made worse by strong winds across some southern areas; gusts to around 40mph may occur at some coastal locations although this will depend on the exact track of the low pressure.“
The Met Office uses a weather warning system consisting of colours, rather like traffic signals. There are three colours used for what the Office terms as ‘severe weather’ and five in use for instances of ‘extreme weather’. The basic colour scheme used by the Met for communications with the public and media outlets consists of light green for ‘no severe weather’ (normal meteorological conditions); yellow for ‘be aware’ (some unusual and impacting weather to be expected); orange for ‘be prepared’ (bad weather expected, people are advised to be vigilant and check weather forecasts) and red for ‘take action’. Red warnings are the most severe and the public are advised to be extra vigilant, to follow orders from authorities and to be prepared for ‘extraordinary measures’. Orange alerts are usually in place for localised flooding, while red alerts are actioned during periods of intense flooding and extreme weather such as hurricanes.