We look to the USA for so many of our modern influences. But John explains why the winds of change that head out over the Atlantic always feel very different on arrival in the UK.
Like ‘Trick or Treat’ or The Kardashians, it seems we soon end up with America’s exports – cultural or otherwise. And as one version of the old saying goes: “When America sneezes, we catch a cold”.
So, with our prevailing winds from the west, logic would suggest that a parallel conveyor belt applies to our weather. Many a time I’ve heard it rumoured, when New York or Washington are being battered by a blizzard, that it’s “heading our way”.
Not so. Even if the wind is coming straight from the States, you might be surprised how much 3000 miles of ocean can alter the air that blows over it. A freezing zero Celsius in Central Park can be warmed to 15 degrees on arriving in Hyde Park.
Our blizzards tend to come with a Russian accent…
The route by which we eventually get our weather is seldom a straight line. Far from it. Areas of warmth and cold often meander down into the tropics or head high into the arctic, before eventually arriving across our shores. Through the contortions of the jet stream, our ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ bear little resemblance to those that left ‘Uncle Sam’ some days earlier.
In fact, sometimes our weather couldn’t be more different if it tried. New Yorkers have been enjoying Indian Summer weather of late with temperatures into the 20s. This dome of heat is ridging further northwards across Newfoundland and towards Greenland.
Rather like squeezing an inflated balloon, a bulge of warmth towards the Pole inevitably dislodges cold air outwards somewhere else. Or put another way: “Build the ridge and you open the fridge”.
The result? While many will be strolling around Times Square in shorts this weekend, mainland Europe will get a foretaste of winter. Even in the UK we could wake up to a frost on Monday morning. It’s all part of the atmosphere’s energetic balancing act around the globe. The weather works in mysterious, even circuitous, ways.
In fact, sometimes the jet stream gets so tied up in knots that our weather comes from the east rather than the west. So, if it’s bitter cold you’re after, then look behind you. Our blizzards tend to come with a Russian accent, rather than a Yankee one.