Hurricane Irma-like disruption ‘may come this winter’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hurricane Maria even developed while the government was shutting down the one national database

Covidian chaos could be worse than last winter’s worst days without a new lockdown, experts have warned.

Met Office weather forecasters at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) said “excessive extreme weather” is likely to return to the UK this winter.

But they added that air-traffic control and airline suspensions should not be expected during a severe snap of cold weather.

The government has been warned that one of the country’s three major air-traffic control centres will be offline for at least six days from 2 December.

Unintended consequences

CEH researchers, who conduct real-time measurements of rainfall, soil moisture and carbon dioxide, said the government will need to act quickly to make up for air-traffic control.

“By weathering (sinking) the Greenland ice sheet, where the ocean water is warmer than the air, the frost can feed into the atmosphere and make the UK more prone to extreme weather,” says CEH chief scientist Prof Ted MacRae.

“Over the next three years, the UK will also be experiencing extensive wetter weather, so we should prepare for greater airborne fuel and carbon emissions.”

Hurricane Maria even developed in the Caribbean while the government was shutting down the one national database, the CEH said.

“There could be wider ramifications than some of the media has picked up,” the CEH said in its report to the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee.

“It could be possible that we could get with a second proper cold snap, rather than the big extreme burst of weather we’ve had over the last few winters,” it added.

The CEH, which manages the Met Office database, told MPs that it had been down for 25 days in September and 19 days in July as a result of the passage of hurricanes in the Atlantic.

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