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Wales faces big chill as weather systems battle it out.

Byline: By SALLY WILLIAMS Western Mail

The big chill that has frozen much of north-east Europe could potentially be heading for Wales, forecasters are warning today. Computer models show that the icy conditions which plunged Moscow down to minus 30C yesterday - the lowest temperature there since 1947 - might move westwards next week, bringing hard frosts, snow showers and sub-zero daytime temperatures. At least 24 people have reportedly died of exposure throughout Russia, where householders have used a record amount of electricity to keep warm. And an overcrowded minibus attempting a short cut across a frozen Russian river fell through ice, killing six people and injuring the nine others on board. Now there is growing speculation that the big freeze could affect Wales and the UK. According to PA WeatherCentre, from next Thursday the wind is expected to turn easterly, which could result in sub-zero temperatures by day and hard frosts overnight, plus a risk of snow showers, especially in the east of the UK. There appears to be a battle between systems - so the cold snap's arrival depends on how much of the Atlantic influence is going to come in from the west and how far west the high pressure will come across from the east. Paul Knightley, a meteorologist with PAWeather, said, 'The computer models are hinting that the cold air that has come down from the Arctic Circle into Russia will head into central Europe including the Italian Alps, so it could come here. 'In Russia, the cold snap has stagnated where there is snow on the ground, the air is cold and there isn't much sunlight so it could continue to linger there for several days. 'The big question is whether or not easterly winds are going to develop. That would push that cold weather here - some forecasters think it will, some think it won't. 'But we know a cold front from Canada is now heading to Wales and could result in overnight frosts in the next couple of days and during next week. 'The weekend should be bright and frosty. 'But it won't result in freezing pipes or lives being put in danger from hypothermia, although there could be ice on the roads.' Mr Knightley said most of Wales could expect daily temperatures of 7C (45F) to 9C (48F) on Saturday and 5C (41F) to 7C (45F) on Sunday, with a colder spell settling in at the start of the week. PA Weather says that across much of northern Europe, including Finland and the Baltics, there is a blocking pattern building up so that the normal westerly winds from the Atlantic are currently being stopped by an anti- cyclone. BBC weather presenter Derek Brockway said that according to his computer data the Russian cold snap was heading to the usually warmer climes of Greece and Turkey, where Welsh sunseekers traditionally head to try to escape our cold winters.

But he stressed he wasn't ruling out the possibility of the extremely cold snap heading to Wales in the long term. Mr Brockway said, 'It isn't coming here over the next several days, but all we need is a high pressure and an easterly wind to drag it across. 'Our temperatures look as if they will be dropping in Wales over the next few days from the above-average mild ones we have just had.

'Although it should be nothing to worry about. 'But, who knows what February is going to bring? 'That is the coldest month of the year!': Taking the plunge into icy depths:The cold snap coincided with the Russian Orthodox holiday of the Epiphany, which tradition says ushers in a cold period - the Epiphany Frosts. Hardy Russians celebrate Epiphany by plunging into rivers and ponds to cleanse themselves with water deemed holy for the day. But authorities advised against following that ritual this year.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 20, 2006
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