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Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Wednesday, 1 December 2010
November's snow in the South East

By Kaye Forster
BBC South East weather presenter

Road and rail networks across north Kent were badly affected
Road and rail networks across north Kent were badly affected

Much of the UK has been in the grip of a very cold and wintry spell over the past couple of weeks with large snowfalls and freezing conditions dominating for several days.

Minimum temperature records for November were broken in parts of Wales and Northern Ireland where the mercury fell as low as -18C in the Welsh mountains on the 27 November.

So it was only a matter of time before the South East also bore the brunt of the wintry weather, and heavy snowfall turned many areas of Kent, Surrey and Sussex into an early winter wonderland.

For many, it is the first snowfall of the season and as much as six inches of snow covered parts of north and west Kent.

Bands of snow

However, the snow was forming in bands - as it tends to do during this time of year, so the amount has been very localised, with some areas receiving several inches and others, close by, only getting a slight dusting.

One such band of snow developed along the Thames Estuary and soon spread into the north and west of the region during Tuesday.

Once in position, it was reluctant to move and continued for several hours as the snow began to mount up. Reports suggested areas such as Bexley, Sevenoaks and Maidstone received the greatest amounts.

Unusually cold?

The average maximum (daytime) temperature we can expect in the South East during November is around 10C with an average minimum (night time) temperature of plus 5C.

In the past two weeks temperatures have struggled to get above freezing during the day with a daytime high of just -1C being reported in Tenterden.

Why is it so early?

Over 10 inches of snow was lying in Istead Rise near Gravesend
Over 10 inches of snow was lying in Istead Rise near Gravesend

It is all to do with the direction of the wind. The autumn months of September, October and November are usually known for bringing wet, windy and fairly mild weather to the South East.

This is due to the persistence of south-westerly winds which tend to dominate during this season.

The lowering of the jet stream during the autumn months (a fast-flowing ribbon of air high in the atmosphere) steers low pressure systems across the UK and brings us south-westerly winds and milder air from the Atlantic.

Was snow inevitable?

However, during the last two weeks of November the winds shifted around to an east or north easterly direction bringing in much colder air from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

The cold north-east winds have persisted for several weeks bringing in colder and colder air and allowing the temperatures to plummet day by day.

It was only a matter of time before the snow arrived to give us the very wintry, but rather early, winter wonderland scene.

When will it end?

It looks as though we shall have a slight thaw this weekend with temperatures reaching a whopping 5C on Saturday.

Aylesford Village, photo by Dan Nickells
Aylesford Village





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