Spring has sprung

5 03 2014

Warmer, drier weather is on the way for parts of the country.  As we move through the week a north–south divide develops across the UK with Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and parts of Wales being changeable and windy. However in the south high pressure will dominate  bringing dry weather for the weekend, with the best of the weather in the Southeast.

Temperatures are expected to reach mid to high teens in the South this weekend (8th – 9th March), while northwest England and Scotland are likely to see spells of strong winds and rain and there is a risk of overnight frosts.

This is in sharp contrast to the record breaking winter we have just experienced.  It was the wettest winter for the UK, England, Wales and Scotland, and the second wettest winter for Northern Ireland in the record series dating from 1910. It was the stormiest UK weather for 20 years with at least 12 major winter storms affecting the UK in two spells from mid-December to early January, and again from late January to mid-February.

For a time early next week the temperatures are expected to return to nearer normal, or slightly above, the average for the time of year (9 °C).  High pressure is again expected to dominate through next week leaving largely settled conditions it should continue to feel “spring like” with some sunshine around and light winds.

When does Spring start?

Meteorologically speaking spring stretches from 1 March to the end of May. Astronomically, spring typically starts on the day of spring equinox, around the 20 March in the Northern Hemisphere.

Weather in spring is often calm and dry with temperatures rising in the day but staying cool at night.





2013: Average figures mask some notable highlights

31 12 2013

Provisional statistics for 2013 suggest it has been a very average year – but those annual figures mask a year which features some significant weather highlights.

Using figures up to 29 December and then assuming average conditions for the last two days of the year, statistics for 2013 show temperature, rainfall and sunshine amounts have all been very close to the 1981-2010 average.

The mean temperature for the UK is currently 8.76C, which is just 0.08C below the annual long-term average, rainfall stands at 1079.8 mm, which is about 94% of the average, and sunshine is at 1425.7 hours, which is 104% of the average. All in all, it seems like a very ‘normal’ year.

However, a closer look at individual months and seasons shows a different picture.

The coldest spring for more than 50 years

This year’s spring was the coldest since 1962. Temperatures were well below average in all areas, but particularly England and Wales, and it was the coldest spring in the Central England temperature series since 1891.

The cold season was mainly due to the very cold March (the coldest month of the extended winter) – but April and May also saw well below average temperatures. Winds were often from the east or north, with notably low temperatures and some unseasonably late snowfalls in places extending into April and May.

A fine summer and autumn’s St Jude’s Day storm

However, after a mixed June, July kickstarted a period of relatively fine weather which led to the warmest, driest and sunniest summer since 2006. The season itself isn’t that remarkable in its own right, but becomes so when put into context of the last few years which have generally seen disappointing weather.

Autumn was fairly average in terms of its numbers, with temperature, rainfall and sunshine close to average, but October featured the St Jude’s Day storm. This storm is judged to be ranked within the top 10 most severe storms in the autumn across southern England in the last 40 years, but is not in the same category as the ‘Great Storm’ of October 1987.

A mild but stormy December

After a fairly dry November to finish the autumn, we moved in to what has become a very unsettled and stormy December. The first major storm came through on the 5th and 6th, then another followed on the 18th and 19th, with another storm tracking past the UK on the 23rd and 24th.

While there have been strong winds during December, rainfall has seen marked regional differences. For example, parts of southern England have seen around double the amount of rain they would normally expect while some spots along the east coast of the UK have only seen around half of their December average.

Other than the generally unsettled conditions, this December has also been mild – it is currently ranked as the seventh mildest December in our records dating back to 1910, although this ranking could change when the final figures come in.

You can find a wealth of information about the UK’s weather and climate throughout 2013 on our climate pages.

Some 2013 extremes:

Max temp – 34.1C at Heathrow, London 1 August

Min temp – -13.6C at Buntingford, Hertfordshire 22 January

Max wind gust – 142mph, Aonach Mor, Invernesshire 5 December

 

Keeping the UK informed

It has also been a notable year for the Met Office. Throughout 2013 the Met Office’s forecasts and warnings have provided timely advice during the periods of severe weather we have seen, helping the UK stay prepared and minimise impacts.

Our Get Ready for Winter and Get Ready for Summer campaigns saw many different companies and organisations working with us to help people prepare for the ever-changing UK weather.

We’ve continued to work in partnership with others around the world to develop the understanding of weather and climate science, helping to drive forward accuracy.

A year of achievement for the Met Office

Met Office staff have again received a high level of recognition for their work. In October Dr Nick Dunstone was named Outstanding Young Scientist for Climate Sciences by European Geophysical Union, while Dr Peter Stott was recognised as one of the ‘Global Thinkers’ of 2013 by Foreign Policy magazine.

Very recently, the Met Office’s Chief Executive, John Hirst, and Chief Scientist, Professor Julia Slingo, were recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.

Other Met Office highlights include:

  • The launch of Europe’s Space Weather Prediction Centre helping protect the technologies our day-to-day lives rely on from severe solar flares, space storms and solar wind which can disrupt them.
  • The launch of Climate Service UK marking a step-change in the provision of services to assess how a changing climate might affect business and society.
  • Retaining our position as the leading operational forecaster in the World.
  • The number of weather reports received by our Weather Observation Website passing 100 million.
  • A celebration of the centenary of the pioneer of modern day weather forecasting, Lewis Fry Richardson, taking up his post as Superintendent of Eskdalemuir Observatory.




Overnight minimum temperatures

11 12 2013

As forecast, last night Scotland saw warmer temperatures than any other part of the country, with overnight maximum temperatures of 16.2 °C recorded in Ross and Cromarty. In fact, many parts of Scotland saw warmer temperatures overnight than they did during the daytime.

Maximum overnight temperatures Tuesday 11 December 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Achnagart Ross & Cromarty 16.2
Kinlochewe        Ross & Cromarty 15.2
Altnaharra No 2   Sutherland 14.6
Kinloss  Moray 14.3
Lossiemouth Moray 14.2
Cluanie Inn No 3  Ross & Cromarty 14.2
Drumnadrochit Inverness-shire 14.1
Aultbea No 2      Ross & Cromarty 14
Resallach    Sutherland 13.8
Skye, Lusa Western Isles 13.7

Not everywhere was so warm with some areas in the southern part of the UK recording several degrees below freezing.

Lowest minimum temperatures Tuesday 11 December 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Pershore Hereford & Worcester -3.1
Shoreham Airport West Sussex -3.1
Goudhurst Kent -3.0
Wiggonholt West Sussex  -2.9
Frittenden Kent  -2.6
Hurn Dorset -2.2
Kew Gardens Greater London  -2.0
Northolt Greater London -2.0
Charlwood Surrey -1.9
Odiham Hampshire -1.9

More mild temperatures are forecast in Scotland over the next few nights, before it becomes slightly more unsettled, particularly in the North of the UK. See your local forecast and temperature range on our website.





July starts dry, sunny and warm

17 07 2013

Early Met Office figures for the first half of July show that it has been warmer, drier and sunnier than usual so far this month.

We’ve now had 11 days with temperatures over 28 °C somewhere in the UK, making it the longest hot spell since 2006.

The UK mean temperature up to the 15th July is 16.1 °C, a degree above the long term average for the whole of the month. The days have been particularly warm so far, with the average maximum temperature for the UK being 21.3 °C, 2 degrees above normal.

Rainfall for the UK from 1-15 July was 9.2 mm. At this stage we would expect to have seen about 48 % of the full month average, however we have only seen 12 %. We have seen less than 5 mm widely across much of England and parts of eastern Scotland (many locations with only 1 or 2 mm).

Up to the 15th we have seen 132 hours of sunshine across the UK, which is 77 % of the full month average. Again, we would have expected to have seen about 48% at this point in an ‘average’ month.

Looking at the individual countries, Scotland’s mean temperature has been 14.4 °C (1.2 °C above average) and Northern Ireland’s has been 16.3 °C (1.7 °C above average). England’s has been 17.0 °C (0.7 °C above average), and Wales’ has been 16.3 °C (1.1 °C above average).

Wales had the most sunshine with 155 hours, which is 86 % of the full-month long-term average.

England has seen the least rainfall for the first half of the month with 4.0 mm, just 6 % of the long term July average. Scotland has seen the most rain with 16.8 mm, but even that is only 17 % of the full-month average.

To put this in context, the driest July on record across the UK was in 1955 when there was 30.6 mm of rain. With only 9 mm of rain so far in the UK this July, this is likely to be a very dry month but – with two weeks to go – it’s too early to say where it will end up in the national series dating back to 1910.

For the longer running England and Wales precipitation record which dates back to 1766, the record driest July was in 1825 with just 8 mm of rain. England and Wales have seen just 4 mm so far this month, but – again – it’s too early to judge where it will end up in the records.

With regards to sunshine hours, 1955 is the sunniest July on record with 256 hours of sunshine, with 2006 close behind with 253 hours.

The warmest July on record is 2006 with a UK mean temperature of 17.8 °C; this is also the warmest month in the national record which goes back to 1910.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
1-15 July Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 16.1 1 132.1 77 9.2 12
England 17 0.7 147.2 76 4 6
Wales 16.3 1.1 154.7 86 8.7 9
Scotland 14.4 1.2 104.1 74 16.8 17
N Ireland 16.3 1.7 114 81 15.7 19

The reason behind this very warm weather is an area of high pressure which has been sitting right above the UK since the start of the month.

This dry weather is in sharp contrast to last year’s wet weather and follows on from a dry June this year.

The Environment Agency measures water resources in England every week to assess how dry the soils are and how much rain they can soak up, the amount of water flowing in rivers, stored below ground in aquifers and above ground in reservoirs, and the outlook for the coming months.

Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency, said: “Last year’s exceptionally wet summer and autumn has left us in a fairly good water resources position, with most rivers, reservoirs and underground water stores around normal for the time of year. Some river levels are dropping as a result of the hot, dry spell that we are enjoying, and we would urge everyone to continue use water wisely, to protect water supplies and the environment.”

More information can be found in their latest water situation report.





What is a heat wave?

4 07 2013

This weekend and into next week temperatures are expected to reach the high twenties Celsius in southern England. This is certainly warmer than we would expect at this time of year – the average maximum temperature for July in England is 20.9 °C – but does it constitute a heat wave?

How hot is a heat wave?

There’s actually no official definition of a heat wave in the UK. In America, where high temperatures are more likely, the official classification is based on the Heat Index. The Heat Index temperature is a ‘feels-like’ temperature calculated by combining the temperature and relative humidity.

Depending on the local climate, an excessive heat warning is issued when the Heat Index is expected to exceed 105 °- 110 °F (40 °C – 43 °C) for at least two consecutive days.

Australia also has variable definitions depending on the state. In Adelaide, a heat wave is defined as five consecutive days at or above 35 °C, or three consecutive days at or over 40 °C.

Heat health watch

Working in association with the Department of Health, the Met Office provides a heat health warning system for England.

The Heat-health watch system comprises four levels of response based upon threshold maximum daytime and minimum night-time temperatures. These thresholds vary by region, but an average threshold temperature is 30 °C by day and 15 °C overnight for at least two consecutive days.

When was the last time we had a prolonged spell of hot weather in the UK?

The last time we saw a long spell of warm weather was in July 2006, where temperatures were above 28 °C in many areas for a fortnight. We have had shorter spells of warm weather since, however, such as the 23 – 26 July last year, when temperatures peaked at 30.7 °C.

How hot will it get this weekend?

You can see the expected maximum temperature range for your area on our website. Temperatures are not currently expected to exceed the heat health watch threshold, but keep up to date with warnings on our website.

temprangelondon

Visit our summer pages for activity ideas for hot and sunny weather.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrBuD9eAmsk





March is joint second coldest on record

2 04 2013

Provisional full-month Met Office figures for March confirm it has been an exceptionally cold month, with a UK mean temperature of 2.2 °C.

This is 3.3 °C below the 1981-2010 long-term average for the month, and ranks this March as joint second coldest (with 1947) in our records dating back to 1910. Only March 1962 was colder, with a record-breaking month mean temperature of 1.9 °C.

In an unusual turn of events, this March was also colder than the preceding winter months of December (3.8 °C), January (3.3 °C) and February (2.8 °C). This last happened in 1975.

Looking at individual countries, the mean temperature for England for March was 2.6 °C – making it the second coldest on record, with only 1962 being colder (2.3 °C). In Wales, the mean temperature was 2.4 °C which also ranks it as the second coldest recorded – with only 1962 registering a lower temperature (2.1 °C). Scotland saw a mean temperature of 1.3 °C, which is joint fifth alongside 1916 and 1958. The coldest March on record for Scotland was set in 1947 (0.2 °C). For Northern Ireland, this March saw a mean temperature of 2.8 °C, which is joint second alongside 1919, 1937, and 1962. The record was set in 1947 (2.5 °C).

This March was also much drier than average for the UK, with 62.1mm of rain falling during the month – just 65% of the 95.1mm average. Scotland was particularly dry, seeing 49.5mm of rain which is 35% of its long term average for the month.

Sunshine hours were also slightly down compared to average, with 82.9 hours for the UK notching up 81% of the average.

The cold and dry conditions seen in March were largely due to high pressure dominating UK weather patterns, allowing cold and relatively dry air to move in from the east. While this pattern is set to continue through the first week of April, milder and more unsettled conditions are expected to move in for the start of next week. You can stay up to date with the latest information with the Met Office’s forecasts.

March 2013 Actual Difference from average Actual % of average
Regions °C °C mm  %
UK 2.2 -3.3 62.1 65
England 2.6 -3.6 64.4 101
Wales 2.4 -3.4 86.2 74
Scotland 1.3 -2.9 49.5 35
N Ireland 2.8 -3.1 74.1 78
England & Wales 2.6 -3.6 67.4 95
England N 1.8 -3.7 56.4 75
England S 3 -3.5 68.6 118

March – top five coldest in the UK

1 1962 1.9 °C
2 2013 2.2 °C
2 1947 2.2 °C
4 1937 2.4 °C
5 1916 2.5 °C




Met Office figures show we are on course for coldest March in over 50 years

28 03 2013

This March is set to be the coldest since 1962 in the UK in the national record dating back to 1910, according to provisional Met Office statistics.

From 1 to 26 March the UK mean temperature was 2.5 °C, which is three degrees below the long term average. This also makes it joint 4th coldest on record in the UK.

The table below gives details of statistics up to the 26 March for broken down by the counties used to compile climate statistics.

  mean temperature precipitation
  Actual  (deg C) Difference from 1981-2010 average (deg C) Actual (mm) Percentage of 1981-2010 average (%)
Regions        
UK 2.5 -3.0 62.2 65
England 2.9 -3.3 63.4 99
Wales 2.8 -3.0 86.2 74
Scotland 1.6 -2.5 50.3 36
N Ireland 3.0 -2.9 78.9 83
England & Wales 2.9 -3.3 66.6 94
England N 2.0 -3.5 54.0 72
England S 3.4 -3.2 68.4 118
Historic Counties        
Aberdeenshire 0.6 -3.1 67.9 86
Anglesey 3.9 -2.9 79.8 100
Antrim 2.9 -2.8 68.9 75
Argyllshire 2.5 -2.1 47.2 22
Armagh 3.1 -3.1 96.8 125
Ayrshire 2.0 -2.9 53.8 41
Banffshire 0.8 -3.1 56.4 76
Bedfordshire 3.0 -3.5 50.1 119
Berkshire 3.4 -3.2 78.5 157
Berwickshire 1.6 -3.2 65.0 108
Brecknockshire 1.9 -3.1 100.5 74
Buckinghamshire 3.1 -3.4 66.6 137
Buteshire 2.7 -2.3 58.0 36
Caithness 2.3 -1.9 45.5 52
Cambridgeshire 3.2 -3.5 40.0 102
Cardiganshire 2.8 -2.8 62.5 54
Carmarthenshire 3.4 -2.7 87.0 69
Carnarvonshire 2.8 -3.0 96.1 64
Cheshire 2.9 -3.5 42.1 72
Clackmannanshire 1.7 -2.7 65.3 57
Cornwall 5.1 -2.3 102.0 109
Cumberland 1.6 -3.3 42.1 37
Denbighshire 2.1 -3.4 66.2 75
Derbyshire 1.9 -3.7 58.8 81
Devon 4.0 -2.7 112.9 118
Dorset 4.0 -2.7 96.8 132
Down 3.2 -3.0 158.4 193
Dumfriesshire 1.3 -3.1 65.6 53
Dunbartonshire 2.1 -2.7 49.4 25
Durham 1.6 -3.4 61.9 99
East Lothianshire 1.9 -3.2 55.4 100
Essex 3.5 -3.3 44.2 110
Fermanagh 3.0 -3.0 45.6 42
Fifeshire 2.3 -3.0 58.8 89
Flintshire 2.9 -3.5 60.9 105
Forfarshire 0.9 -3.0 73.1 89
Glamorganshire 3.6 -2.8 123.1 98
Gloucestershire 3.2 -3.3 77.1 129
Hampshire 3.9 -2.9 85.4 133
Herefordshire 2.9 -3.5 80.3 134
Hertfordshire 3.2 -3.4 50.3 109
Huntingdonshire 3.1 -3.6 56.4 143
Inverness 1.3 -2.1 36.9 19
Kent 3.8 -3.1 58.2 121
Kincardineshire 1.5 -3.1 56.5 82
Kinross 1.5 -3.0 65.6 65
Kirkcudbrightshire 1.7 -3.0 79.2 54
Lanarkshire 1.2 -3.0 51.8 47
Lancashire 2.6 -3.3 41.1 45
Leicestershire 2.4 -3.8 52.4 114
Lincolnshire 2.7 -3.6 49.0 113
Londonderry 3.0 -2.8 59.3 60
Merionethshire 1.8 -3.1 98.6 62
Mid Lothianshire 1.7 -3.1 59.4 83
Middlesex 4.2 -3.3 57.7 128
Monmouthshire 3.1 -3.2 94.8 100
Montgomeryshire 2.0 -3.4 64.5 56
Moray 1.7 -2.8 39.5 60
Nairnshire 1.5 -2.9 32.0 47
Norfolk 3.0 -3.4 60.5 128
Northamptonshire 2.6 -3.6 61.0 133
Northumberland 1.5 -3.3 63.0 92
Nottinghamshire 2.6 -3.8 49.0 113
Oxfordshire 3.0 -3.3 74.3 149
Peeblesshire 0.4 -3.4 69.6 68
Pembrokeshire 4.0 -2.6 76.9 77
Perthshire 0.6 -2.6 58.8 39
Radnorshire 1.7 -3.2 87.8 91
Renfrewshire 2.5 -2.8 42.8 29
Ross and Cromarty 2.1 -2.0 35.1 20
Roxburghshire 1.0 -3.4 62.8 73
Rutland 2.4 -3.7 58.0 123
Selkirkshire 0.5 -3.1 76.5 68
Shropshire 2.6 -3.5 61.6 108
Somerset 3.8 -3.0 65.3 91
Staffordshire 2.3 -3.7 51.0 87
Stirlingshire 1.9 -2.9 53.2 36
Suffolk 3.2 -3.3 46.4 104
Surrey 3.7 -3.1 72.1 135
Sussex 4.0 -2.8 64.6 103
Sutherland 1.5 -2.4 38.8 27
Tyrone 2.8 -2.8 60.1 57
Warwickshire 2.8 -3.6 52.2 110
West Lothianshire 1.9 -3.1 49.3 62
West Suffolk 3.3 -3.5 31.8 80
Westmorland 1.2 -3.1 56.1 40
Wigtownshire 2.7 -2.8 55.5 51
Wiltshire 3.3 -3.0 76.1 118
Worcestershire 3.1 -3.5 63.9 133
Yorkshire 1.9 -3.6 59.0 84

Clearly March has been extremely cold and snowy and joins 2006, 2001, 1995, 1987, 1979, 1970 and 1962 as years when March saw some significant snowfall.

The cold weather is expected to continue through the Easter weekend and into April. You can stay up-to-date with forecasts and warnings online, through our mobile apps, facebook and twitter, and through TV and radio broadcasts.

The table below lists the coldest March average temperatures on record and details where March 2013 ranks in terms of cold months of March.

Area Coldest March

on Record

(deg C and year)

Rank of March 2013
Aberdeenshire -1.4 1947 5
Anglesey 3.6 1962 2
Antrim 2.2 1947 5
Argyllshire 1.5 1947 5
Armagh 2.9 1919/1947 4
Ayrshire 1.0 1947 5
Banffshire -1.0 1947 5
Bedfordshire 2.3 1962 2
Berkshire 2.6 1962 2
Berwickshire 0.3 1947 5
Brecknockshire 1.1 1962 2
Buckinghamshire 2.3 1962 2
Buteshire 1.5 1947 5
Caithness 0.0 1947 5
Cambridgeshire 2.6 1962 2
Cardiganshire 2.0 1962 3
Carmarthenshire 2.5 1962 3
Carnarvonshire 2.3 1962 3
Cheshire 2.6 1962 2
Clackmannanshire 0.1 1947 4
Cornwall 3.9 1962 2
Cumberland 1.0 1947 4
Denbighshire 1.4 1962 2
Derbyshire 1.5 1962 2
Devon 3.1 1962 2
Dorset 3.1 1962 2
Down 3.0 1937/1947 4
Dumfriesshire 0.5 1947 5
Dunbartonshire 0.3 1947 5
Durham 0.9 1947 4
East Lothianshire 0.2 1947 5
Essex 2.8 1962 2
Fermanagh 2.8 1947 3
Fifeshire 0.7 1947 5
Flintshire 2.4 1962 2
Forfarshire -0.6 1947 4
Glamorganshire 2.9 1962 3
Gloucestershire 2.6 1962 2
Hampshire 3.0 1962 2
Herefordshire 2.4 1962 2
Hertfordshire 2.4 1962 2
Huntingdonshire 2.6 1962 2
Inverness 0.0 1947 5
Kent 2.9 1962 2
Kincardineshire 0.3 1947 2
Kinross -0.1 1947 5
Kirkcudbrightshire 0.9 1947 3
Lanarkshire 0.0 1947 5
Lancashire 2.3 1962 2
Leicestershire 2.0 1962 2
Lincolnshire 2.4 1962 2
Londonderry 2.2 1947 5
Merionethshire 1.2 1962 3
Mid Lothianshire 0.1 1947 5
Middlesex 3.4 1962 2
Monmouthshire 2.5 1962 2
Montgomeryshire 1.3 1962 3
Moray -0.2 1947 5
Nairnshire 0.0 1947 5
Norfolk 2.5 1962 2
Northamptonshire 2.1 1962 2
Northumberland 0.4 1947 4
Nottinghamshire 2.4 1962 2
Oxfordshire 2.4 1962 2
Peeblesshire -1.2 1947 5
Pembrokeshire 3.2 1962 3
Perthshire -1.2 1947 5
Radnorshire 1.1 1962 2
Renfrewshire 0.8 1947 5
Ross and Cromarty 0.8 1947 5
Roxburghshire -0.4 1947 5
Rutland 1.9 1962 2
Selkirkshire -0.8 1947 5
Shropshire 2.1 1962 2
Somerset 3.0 1962 2
Staffordshire 1.9 1962 2
Stirlingshire 0.1 1947 5
Suffolk 2.5 1962 2
Surrey 2.8 1962 2
Sussex 2.9 1962 2
Sutherland 0.1 1947 5
Tyrone 2.3 1947 5
Warwickshire 2.3 1962 2
West Lothianshire 0.3 1947 5
West Suffolk 2.5 1962 2
Westmorland 0.4 1947 3
Wigtownshire 1.7 1947 3
Wiltshire 2.5 1962 2
Worcestershire 2.7 1962 2
Yorkshire 1.4 1947 3

The full month figures for March 2013 will be available later next week and a summary of the month will be issued soon after.





Overnight minimum temperatures

22 01 2013

Last night temperatures fell to as low as – 12.2 °C in Cambridge. This was close to the lowest recorded temperature of this winter so far, which was -13.4 °C, recorded in Marham, Norfolk on the 16 January.

Minimum temperatures Tuesday 22 January 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Cambridge Cambridgeshire       -12.2
Andrewsfield                        Essex                -11.1
Cavendish                           Suffolk              -10.6
Rothamsted                          Hertfordshire        -10.4
Marham                              Norfolk              -10.3
South Newington                     Oxfordshire          -9.4
Houghton Hall                       Norfolk              -9
Bedford                             Bedfordshire         -8.9
Brooms Barn                         Suffolk              -8.8
Charlwood                           Surrey               -8.5
Northolt                            Greater London       -8.4
Writtle                             Essex                -8.4
Wisley                              Surrey               -8.2
Santon Downham                      Suffolk              -8.1
Monks Wood                          Cambridgeshire       -8

Not everywhere was so cold, with some areas in the Scotland and the south of England and Wales staying above freezing.

Highest minimum temperatures Tuesday 22 January 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Scilly St Marys Airport   Isles Of Scilly 4.7
Isle Of Portland          Dorset          3.7
Harris Quidnish           Western Isles   3.1
Achnagart                 Ross & Cromarty 2.9
Swanage                   Dorset          2.6
Stornoway Airport         Western Isles   2.4
Wight St Catherines Point Isle Of Wight   2.4
Dunstaffnage              Argyll          2.3
Mumbles Head              West Glamorgan  2.3
South Uist Range          Western Isles   2.2

More very low temperatures are forecast over the next few nights, before it turns less cold and wetter over the weekend. See your local forecast and temperature range on our website.





Cold weather clue in upper atmosphere

4 12 2012

During a period of colder than average weather across northern Europe in February this year we issued a blog discussing potential causes – including changes in circulation high up in the atmosphere.

We also discussed these disruptions, known as Sudden Stratospheric Warmings (SSWs), in a news release about advances in predicting these events in our long-range guidance for winters.

SSWs happen when the usual westerly winds in the stratosphere, between 10km and 50km up, are disrupted, break down and even reverse.

This signal can then burrow down to the lower atmosphere over the course of a few days to a few weeks, thereby reducing the westerly winds at lower levels.

This illustrates how the reversing of winds in the stratosphere 'burrows' down to surface level.

Figure illustrates how reversal of winds in the stratosphere ‘burrows’ down to surface level.

For the UK in winter, that means a disruption to the westerly flow that usually brings mild air from the Atlantic and there is a potential to allow easterly winds to take hold, bringing in cold air from the continent.

So SSWs can herald cold weather ahead. However, there are variations in their magnitude – sometimes they are fairly minor, just a ‘wobble’ in the flow of the stratospheric winds, but sometimes they are more pronounced, with a complete reversal of the pattern of winds.

The more significant the SSW, the more likely it is to have an impact at the surface and also the greater the potential impact.

Met Office observation systems have picked up a minor SSW in the stratosphere over the past few days, suggesting that this may have an impact on the UK.

Jeff Knight, a Climate Scientist at the Met Office, said: “Satellite and other observation data show that there is a minor SSW going on and this is one factor amongst many others which could perpetuate the colder than average conditions we have seen recently.

“It could take anything from a few days to a few weeks if it is going to have an impact. However, it’s consistent with the current 30-day outlook from the Met Office which favours colder than average conditions – albeit with a fair amount of uncertainty.”

The Met Office will continue to monitor the situation and, as ever, will keep everyone up to date on any periods of cold weather through our forecasts and warnings.





Responding to more ‘winter weather’ headlines

17 11 2012

We wrote only last week that it seems that it is the time of year again for colourful headlines about an impending big freeze.

We had them at this time last year, which prompted our Chief Executive to write an opinion piece in The Times. Now we have very similar stories again, with the front page of the Daily Express declaring last week ‘Coldest winter freeze on way’ and warning that temperatures are set to plunge as low as -15C and again a week on we have another front page from the Daily Express which declares ‘Coldest winter for 100 years on way‘. with the UK expected to grind to a halt within weeks.

These longer range forecasts for December and January have not come from the Met Office and a look at our current 30 day forecast provides perhaps a more measured assessment of our weather prospects to the middle of December:

As is usual, there are uncertainties in the forecast for this period. Whilst changeable conditions are considered more likely initially, some signs are beginning to emerge for more settled conditions to develop over parts of Europe. The signal is that these conditions may extend towards the UK during the first part of December. So, although there are no strong indications of any particular weather type predominating, on balance, colder and drier-than-average conditions are favoured over the recent mild and damp weather many areas have experienced.

What is clear from the forecast is that although there are some signs that after a rather unsettled period, the weather may become colder and drier than we have seen recently there is still a lot of uncertainty in the forecast which again the article has failed to pick up on and report to its readers.

The science does not exist to make detailed forecasts for temperature and snowfall for the end of this month, let alone for December or even the winter as a whole with these types of forecasts only able to provide an indication of how our weather might change, or be different from normal, (i.e. warmer, colder, wetter, drier) across the whole UK or even Europe

Ultimately, we’re heading into winter and it is perfectly possible that we will see the whole range of weather that we get in winter at some point over the coming months, including snow and freezing temperatures, but also heavy rain, windy weather and mild conditions too.

Our five day forecasts and warnings will provide you with the best possible guidance on any periods of cold weather, frost or the likelihood of snow, giving detailed local information across the UK to help you make the most of the weather over the coming months.








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