The past week has seen the highest temperatures of the year so far, thanks to a combination of high pressure initially and then a south-easterly flow feeding in warm air from the continent.
The UK’s prevailing wind direction is south-westerly, which given our geographical position on the north-east side of the North Atlantic, means a temperate climate compared to similar latitudes in the continental interiors, where annual temperature extremes are much greater.
Our winds can blow from any direction, however, and the changeable nature of our weather and particularly day to day temperatures is due to this variability in where our air originates.
A month or season’s weather is determined by the dominance of a particular wind direction during that period. For example, the mild, wet weather at the start of the year was thanks to persistent south-westerlies, whereas the cold and snow in March 2013 was due to a mainly north-easterly flow.
Winds from a particular direction may have a different effect depending on the time of year. South-easterlies from the European continent in summer can lead to very high temperatures, but in winter often result in our coldest conditions, with the moderating influence of the North Atlantic lost.
Many countries or regions name winds from a particular direction, these winds bringing certain weather characteristics.
A famous example is the Mistral in the western Mediterranean, a strong and squally, cold northerly wind, particularly frequent in the Rhone valley in SE France. Other well-known winds include the Sirocco, which brings hot air from North Africa into southern European countries bordering the Mediterranean, the Bora, a cold northerly wind on the eastern side of the Adriatic and the Levante, a warm easterly wind that affects the Strait of Gibraltar.
Back home and with low pressure close by, the outlook is mixed with heavy and thundery showers likely during the rest of the week, as well as over the weekend.
There will be brighter periods too though and it will continue to feel fairly warm in any sunshine, although much cooler than last weekend.