Strange scenes inside the jet stream

Fierce weather in regions across the globe is connected by a meandering band of wind that can reach 400km per hour.


    There are some strange things happening with the weather on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Consider events such as huge wildfires and record-breaking heatwave across the United States, to unprecedented rainfall for many parts of the UK, not to mention the devastating storms that have hit the Black Sea coasts of both Russia and Turkey.

    Despite the vast distances between these regions, there is a common link – the jet stream.

    The jet stream is the band of wind, blowing at up to 400 kilometres per hour that lies high up in the atmosphere. It marks the boundary between warm air to the south and colder air to the north, and it tends to move northwards in the summer and southwards in the winter.

    It doesn't move in a straight line, though. Because of the rotation of the Earth beneath it, it tends to meander much like a river.

    In a typical summer, the jet stream lies across North America and heads out across the Atlantic, going well to the north of the UK.

    This summer, however, the pattern is very different.

    It has been far further to the north across North America. This has pushed warm air across the south and east and the consequences are clear – huge wildfires in the Midwest and day after day of 40 degree celsius temperatures in the east.

    On the other side of the Atlantic, the jet stream has dipped well to the south of the UK and Western Europe, driving cold air and wet weather with it.

    Everything from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, to tennis at Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, have been hit by exceptionally wet weather. In fact, this is the wettest start to a British summer in more than 100 years.

    But that's not the end of our story. The jet steam has turned sharply and brought about heatwave conditions across much of Eastern Europe.

    Those high temperatures have been the catalyst for some massive thunder clouds, known as supercells. These have brought serious flooding and deaths to the Black Sea coastal regions of both Turkey and southern Russia.

    Will the pattern change? Are we stuck with extreme weather for the rest of the summer?

    If past experience is anything to go by, we usually see these patterns change over a period of weeks, and the heatwave over the US looks to be on its way out.

    Whether or not a change will come in time to save the Olympic Games in London, only time will tell.



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