London weather: What is the Beast from the East and will it hit London?

This weekend will remain cold in London, but don’t expect any of the white stuff.
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Our tortured relationship with the weather on these islands means that everyone gets very excited by talk of the ‘Beast from the East’, but will likely complain the moment it hits. As it stands, Londoners should expect to be chilly this weekend with peak temperatures of around 7-8C according to the Met Office, but there’s no snow on the radar.

There is a chance we will get a severe cold spell at the beginning of March across the UK.

What is the Beast from the East?

The Beast from the East is the name given to a cold spell in the UK as the result of a polar continental air mass. When Scandinavia experiences periods of high pressure, that normally means cold conditions for the UK when air is drawn from the Eurasian landmass (hence the ‘Beast from the East’ moniker),

The original Beast from the East hit the UK in February and March of 2018, lasting for a period of around 10 days. It brought unusually cold and snowy conditions for what is normally the start of spring, with the lowest UK temperature being recorded in Faversham, Kent, where the mercury hit -14.2C.

Beast from the East brought heavy snow to the UK in 2018. Picture: Getty ImagesBeast from the East brought heavy snow to the UK in 2018. Picture: Getty Images
Beast from the East brought heavy snow to the UK in 2018. Picture: Getty Images

It cost a total of £1.2bn in damage when it first struck in February 2018, with a milder mini-Beast returning on the weekend of March 17-18 of that year.

Will it return to London this year?

While it will be quite cold in London this weekend for the end of February, we won’t be seeing the kind of consistent freezing temperatures that the Beast from the East brought. Friday (February 24) is set to be a dry but cold day, with temperatures peaking at around 8C in the afternoon according to the Met Office.

Saturday (February 25), will see similarly cold conditions with the mercury reaching 7C in the afternoon, with again the chance of rain low at around 5-10% for much of the day.

Sunday (February 26), will also see a max temperature of 7C, but the Met Office says this will “feel like” more in the 3-4C range.

Although the Beast from the East won’t hit this weekend in London, the long range Met Office forecast for the whole of the UK says there’s a chance of snow showers in March, so the cold conditions could be with us for some time yet.