Beast from the East: Swansea Edition

by Nicola McAndrew

You all know by now about the Beast from the East (no, I don’t mean Ivan Drago). Amidst Tesco’s deserted shelves, persistent weather warnings and one entire centimetre of snow threatening to fall, it’s no surprise that people are preparing for the apocalypse! Considering the earthquake not so long ago, Swansea is becoming something seemingly straight out of a disaster film.

But in all seriousness, it has been pretty unpleasant. Granted, not as bad as anywhere else in the UK. Amber warnings were issued for Thursday, and firmly stayed in place until 8 o’clock on Friday morning, when they became Yellow alerts. The MET office has currently issued a warning for “patchy freezing rain”, which is unsurprising given the Arctic temperatures outside. The main hazard Swansea now faces is ice, which makes for dangerous roads and slippery pavements, so do be careful! Luckily for us, the university made the decision to close on Thursday and Friday, which gave everybody a couple of extra days to complete those ‘forgotten’ assignments (you know who you are!).

So, where did the storm come from? What’s the difference between the ‘Beast from the East’ and ‘Storm Emma’? When is the next season of Peaky Blinders? So many questions.

The ‘Beast from the East’ occurred due to a polar vortex. This is basically an area of low pressure normally situated at the North/South poles. Underneath a polar vortex lies dense Arctic air. The northern polar vortex has split in two and weakened, meaning a mass of dry Artic air managed to migrate from Siberia across to Eastern and Western Europe.

At the same time, Storm Emma, swept in from the south-west, bringing with her powerful winds and overall stormy conditions. As the two collided, the freezing temperatures and high winds and stormy conditions caused vicious blizzards, heavy snow, and sub-zero temperatures. (I don’t know about Peaky Blinders though, sorry!).

You may be pleased to hear that the worst of it took place on Thursday, and there will be a rise in temperature over the next week. Which I think is great, as I’d say Swansea’s had enough excitement to last the next 20 years! But although it will be a tad warmer, it’s not completely over yet, *groan*.

There are still weather warnings in place, and it is important to remember there are still awful conditions across many parts of the UK. There have already been many weather-related accidents, and the majority of rail, coach and bus lines have been, and are still being, disrupted. But rest assured, as Swansea’s already over the worst of it!

With temperatures reaching -6 degrees Celsius in Swansea, it’s important to know what to do (for future references also), if you spot a homeless person suffering through these types of severe weather conditions. There is an organisation called StreetLink, who operate across England and Wales. They have an app, a website, and a 24-hour call service. All you need to do is report the person in need of assistance, and StreetLink will refer them to a local organisation that will come to their aid as soon as possible. You can visit https://www.streetlink.org.uk/ or call them on 0300 500 0914. If you’re able, save the link or number on your phone or write it down – you never know when you may need those details!

So, well done Swansea for surviving both the storm, and an earthquake! I’ve never seen a city deal with a dusting of snow quite so heroically and also…dramatically. Admirable stuff, really. One thing is for certain though, I’m definitely looking forward to summer!

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