Very early forecasts last weekend may have suggested up to 12 inches of snow could fall over the next few days but any hopes for a winter wonderland must now be replaced with wellies and an umbrella as the rain continues.
Heavy showers have been forecast on Friday afternoon through to the early hours of Saturday, with more on the way. It’s a far cry from the white stuff that early forecasting models had been showing – and many of us wanted.
Instead, the snow looks set to fall elsewhere and may be short-lived as temperatures are expected to rise again next week.
Although snow optimists will be feeling disappointed that the early forecasts come to nothing down South, there has been heavy snow falling in Scotland. The country’s ski resorts have enjoyed a bumper winter as the white stuff continues to fall.
With more rain coming to the South, the Environment Agency has once again placed parts of the Thames Valley on flood alert, just hours after the Met Office declared January as the wettest on record.
Southern England – which the Met Office counts as East Devon to Kent up to the Midlands – has seen 175.2mm of rain fall so far. That’s twice the average for January and beats the previous record set in 1988.
Maiden Erlegh School’s excellent weather station has been keeping tracks of how much has been falling this month.
On its Twitter feed, it has noted that the last dry day was on December 28, 2013 and that during January, so far, rainfall on the’s school roof is currently 185% of the 30 year average. If another 6mm falls between now and the end of the month, it will have seen 200% of normal rainfall.
It’s even been wetter down South than it has in Scotland – parts of the country have seen just 83% of its average rainfall. The rain has seen the average temperature rise, making it a mild winter. It has been 1.2ºC above average this month.
Amazingly though, despite the constant rainfall that has seen many rivers flooded, England has seen the average amount of sunshine. Met Office records show that the region has had 56.4 hours over the past month.
The Met Office forecast for the weekend sees daytime temperatures hitting around 8ºC, but with windchill it will feel barely above freezing. Hopes of snow are dashed as heavy rain is forecast in its place. The first showers will start from 3pm on Friday and will continue through to the early hours on Saturday.
Saturday and Sunday should be dry and cold, with wind chill making it feel below freezing. On Monday, the rain is forecast to return from 3pm.
Despite the wet predictions, some forecasting models still show an outside chance of snow on Saturday. Weatherweb.net suggests 1cm could fall – although this now seems incredibly unlikely and even if it did, ground temperatures mean it would be unlikely to stay for long.
The Environment Agency (EA) offers regular updates on rivers that are extremely high and at risk of flooding and a number of them across the region are filling up – although the warnings are in place, the EA is not saying that flooding will result.
The River Thames is high in a number of places across the Thames Valley and the EA has issued several localised flood alerts. Although the rain won’t help water levels, they are expected to remain stable and no property flooding is expected – although roads and low lying land may flood.
Warnings are in place for Dorchester and Overy, Shillingford, Benson, Ewelme, Wallingford, Winterbrook, East Hagbourne, South Moreton, North Stoke, Moulsford, South Stoke, Goring and Streatley, Henley, Remenham and Medmenham, Skirmett, Hambleden, Shiplake, Lower Shiplake, Wargrave, Pangbourne, Whitchurch, Purley, Sonning, Mapledurham, Caversham and Playhatch.
Previous flooding on the River Thames forced the closure of Sonning Bridge, causing traffic chaos across the Reading area.
The River Loddon remains high and out of banks around Twyford and Wargrave although no warnings are in place.
The River Kennet from Thatcham to Reading has already burst its banks and the water levels may rise again due to the rain forecast. Warnings are in place for Burghfield, Colthrop, Woolhampton, Aldermaston, Theale, Calcot and Southcote.
In the same area, the River Pang and Sulham Brook are also rising. The EA warns: ” River levels on the River Pang and Sulham Brook are slowly rising in response to recent rainfall. River levels remain high and are sensitive to forecast rainfall today and tomorrow. Flooding of low lying land and roads adjacent to the river is possible.”
Thankfully, it says property flooding is not expected.
Regions affected are Compton, Hampstead Norreys, Frilsham, Bucklebury, Stanford Dingley, Bradfield and Tidmarsh, Theale, Pangbourne and Sulham.
A warning is in place around Basingstoke and Sherborne St John areas as groundwater levels are high and continuing to rise. The EA warns: “Due to the nature of groundwater behaviour, this situation could continue for several weeks or longer and impacts are expected to be similar to the flooding during the winter 2000/01.”
The situation may change according to weather conditions.
For more details, call Floodline on 0845 988 1188.
Local weather forecasters
The Met Office also issues its own five-day forecast for Reading area, which can be found by clicking here.
For more weather related information, alternative forecasts and blogs on our national obsession, log on to www.weatherweb.net.