Highs and lows - weather conditions

This page highlights a few of the typical weather conditions that can be experienced over the UK during periods of high and low pressure. We look at how these systems determine weather conditions in the Summer and in the Winter.

High and low pressure systems have a strong influence over the types of weather that we experience in the UK. As different pressure systems move across the UK they bring varying weather conditions dependent upon the time of year.  For example in summer high pressure tends to bring fine, warm weather, but in winter a high pressure system is associated with cold and dry days and frost.

The below looks at what weather conditions are typically associated with areas of high and low pressure in the Winter and in the Summer.

What weather conditions are associated with areas of high pressure?

Summer High pressure in summer

High pressure in the summer often brings fine, warm weather. It can lead to long warm sunny days and prolonged dry periods. In severe situations this can cause a drought (such as early 2012). Heatwaves can also become a hazard (such as the record breaking hot temperatures across Europe during the summer of 2003). Possible hazardous weather-related conditions include:

  • Heatwaves
  • Droughts
  • Poor air quality
  • High pollen counts

Winter  High pressure in winter

High pressure in the winter often leads to cold, dry days with light winds. Severe night time frosts can develop if skies are clear. Sometimes stratocumulus cloud can become established leading to several days of no sun, which furthermore suppress daytime temperatures. Possible hazardous weather-related conditions include:

  • Droughts
  • Frosts
  • Snow showers
  • Fog
  • Poor air quality

What weather conditions are associated with areas of low pressure?

Summer Low pressure in summer

Low pressure in the summer can lead to periods of prolonged rainfall, which in extreme situations leads to flooding (such as the summer floods in 2007). However, it is still possible to get nice weather in between weather fronts, especially if the cloud clear and the sun comes out. Possible hazardous weather-related conditions include:

  • Heavy rain
  • Flash Floods
  • Storms

Winter When the wind is out the east, tis never good for man nor beast

Low pressure in the winter often signals stormy or wintery conditions. The jet stream is usually positioned further south than its summer track meaning that the unsettled conditions affect more of the UK. Possible hazardous weather-related conditions include:

  • Frontal snowfall
  • Storms
  • Heavy rain
  • Floods

Last updated: 30 September 2013