Blizzard as bad as 2013 could hit us on Thursday

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A storm system – already named Storm Emma by the Portuguese meteorological service – is expected to move in from the Atlantic on Thursday and collide with the freezing air which has plunged down across the British Isles from Siberia.

Although there is some uncertainty over the storm’s track, forecast models showed it is likely to bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions.

Temperatures are expected to rise no higher than 2°C, and it will feel more like minus 5°C in the strong easterly wind.

The Airport, Infrastructure Department and parishes are already making plans to deal with any disruption, and the Education Department is advising parents to monitor news reports on Thursday morning, as it hopes any school closures will be announced before 6 am.

If the storm hits as current models suggest, forecasters say it is likely to be similar to the blizzard of 11 March 2013, which made roads impassable, brought down trees and power lines, and left several people in hospital with serious injuries.

Jersey Met forecaster Joanna Chambers said: ‘The computer models have been consistent in showing that an area of low pressure containing a lot of precipitation will move in off the Atlantic later this week.

‘As the air over us is so cold, that precipitation is likely to be of snow and as the ground is so cold it is likely to stick.

‘This has the potential to be quite a significant and disruptive snow event.

‘There could be a lot of snow, it will be cold and this low pressure system has the potential to bring gale force winds, so we could have blizzard conditions.

‘It has the potential to be a disruptive event similar to what we saw in March 2013.’

Computer models forecast the snow arriving shortly before dawn on Thursday. The snow is expected to become patchy during the day and eventually turn to rain as milder air pushes in from the south-west.

In a statement, the Education Department said: ‘We take advice from Jersey Met, the Department of Infrastructure and other agencies. If schools are going to close we aim to let parents know as early as possible – hopefully by 6 am if we can.

‘The first place to get an update would be the Jersey Education Facebook and Twitter feeds, the States website and local media. Schools will also inform parents and we will advise local media.’

The Parish of St Helier is to roll out its severe-weather plan to help keep town moving.

In a tweet on Monday, it said: ‘We’re ready! If snow does arrive, the parish will adopt its severe-weather plan which involves reallocating teams to salt-spreading and snow-clearance duties. Our truck-mounted salt spreader is prepared and ready to go, with teams working in shifts to cover parish roads.

‘Small teams will be clearing snow and salting pavements, and several satellite snow stations are fully equipped with snow shovels, salt, gloves and buckets. We’ll be working closely with the DfI.’

Ports of Jersey say the weather in the Island and the UK this week could impact upon departures and arrivals on Thursday.

‘Ports of Jersey is liaising closely with Jersey Met in relation to the current weather situation both in the Island and UK, which could lead to disruption to air services in and out of Jersey Airport.

‘Ports of Jersey have contingency plans in place, including de-icing of the runway, stands and aircraft.

‘For passengers due to travel this week, the advice from our airline partners is, unless advised otherwise, to check in on time as planned. Jersey flight status is available to view online via our website,’

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