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Claims of 630-mile 'ice bomb' that will blanket UK in snow dismissed by Met Office

BUXTON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 08: People walk through the snow in Pavilion Gardens on February 08, 2024 in Buxton, United Kingdom. The Met Office issued two amber warnings for snow and ice, coinciding with rain and sleet, as cold air streams in from the Arctic into northern parts of the UK. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
The Met Office has dismissed reports that the UK will be blanketed in snow. (Getty)

The Met Office has dismissed claims that a '630-mile ice bomb' is set to hit the UK, saying the uncertainty of long-range weather forecasts means it can't accurately predict such weather events.

Recent reports using maps taken from weather charts for the coming weeks have suggested that the UK would be "covered in snow".

The reports, in publications including the Express and the Mirror and originally sourcing maps from WXCharts, said an Arctic freeze would "grip the nation", suggested that "large swatches of the country are set to be blanketed by snow".

But the Met Office has dismissed the reports, issuing a 'FactCheck' via X, formerly Twitter, in which it referred to the headlines, saying: "Here's our latest #FactCheck on the reports, and a reminder that a single weather chart for weeks away isn't representative of a fully-formed long-range forecast, which would include some uncertainty.", adding: "#WhenAccuracyMatters."

It also included its forecast, which said snow this week would be largely confined to high ground in the north, and said it was due to get milder from the south this week with periods of heavy rain. It added that while cooler conditions could come later in February, it was too early to determine details.

Channel 4 News weather presenter Liam Dutton was even more critical, tweeting: "Since early winter, there have been silly tabloid headlines of 'snow bombs,' 'walls of snow' etc. Yet away from northern hills, most of us have had no snow, or snow that lasted little more than a day or so. Same nonsense every winter. Do they think people don't remember?"

It is not the first time the Met Office has felt the need to point out the uncertainty in long-range forecasting. At the start of the month, forecasters pointed out how confidence levels vary depending on conditions and how long-term the forecasts are, emphasising that people shouldn't put too much emphasis in one map.

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The Met Office has also described how forecasting snow in the UK is quite complex in comparison to other countries on the same latitude. Spokesperson Stephen Dixon told Yahoo News UK that forecasts are informed by "hundreds of model runs" with meteorologists then analysing them and making the final forecast.

January warmest month on record

Regardless of what happens later this month, scientists have said that January 2024 was the warmest January ever recorded globally - following on from 2023 being the warmest year since records began.

The global mean temperature for last year was 1.52C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average, missing targets that aimed to keep warming below 1.5C.

Last month's records followed on from that, showing the warmest January on record.

The average surface air temperature on Earth in January was 13.14C, above the previous record, set in January 2020, according to a report released by Copernicus, the European Union's climate change service.