The Met Office’s outlook for UK winter 2013-14

21 02 2014

There are some headlines in the media today discussing the Met Office long range forecast for this winter.

Firstly it’s important to remember that it’s our short and medium term forecasts that are relied on by emergency responders to help them manage the impacts of severe weather.

The Met Office’s five-day forecasts and severe weather warnings have provided excellent guidance throughout the period of exceptionally stormy and wet weather we have experienced this winter. This advice has helped everyone from the emergency services, to government organisations and the public plan ahead for the conditions we’ve seen.

The news stories are based on information taken from our three month outlook for contingency planners, issued at the end of November 2013 so, what can our three month outlooks tell us?

These outlooks are not like our other forecasts because, as we have discussed previously, it’s not currently scientifically possible to provide a detailed forecast over these long timescales.

Instead, the outlook assesses the level of risk connected to five different scenarios for both temperature and rain/snowfall for the UK as a whole; they do not mention specific areas such as the West Country or the Somerset Levels. It’s a bit like the science-equivalent of factoring the odds on a horse race.

However, as with any horse race, it’s always possible that the favourite won’t win – so these probability scenarios have to be used in the right context. This is why they’re useful for contingency planners who plan ahead based on risk, but not that useful for the general public.





January weather summary

14 02 2014

January saw a succession of weather systems tracking across the UK from the Atlantic which brought high winds, at times gale force, and persistent rain to the country. This extended a sequence of deep lows that began in mid-December. The worst of these were over by the 7th to give some brief respite, but rain continued through the remainder of the month with very few dry days. For the period from 12th December to the end of January some stations in the south of England had recorded over five months worth of rainfall.

The UK mean temperature for January was 4.8 °C, which is 1.1 °C above the 1981-2010 average. The UK overall received 151% of average rainfall making it the third wettest in the series. A broad region from east Devon to Kent and up to the central midlands received well in excess of 200 % and some more localised regions were closer to three times the average. Visit our climate section for a full written summary of the month.

Our infographic and video provide a summary of the weather throughout January:

14_0062-jan-summary-infog





Statistics for winter so far

11 02 2014

As the unsettled UK weather continues this week, the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre have looked at statistics for this winter so far (from 1 December to 10 February).

These add to previous facts and figures we put out earlier this week, and show a picture of continuing exceptional rainfall across many areas.

Looking at regions around the UK, these provisional figures suggest the region of SE and Central S England has already exceeded its record winter rainfall in the series back to 1910. It is currently at 439.2mm*, less than 2mm above the previous record set in 1915 with 437.1mm of rain.

For the UK as a whole, and also for Wales, both are fairly close to their respective record wettest winter levels in the national series dating back to 1910. Average rainfall for the rest of the month would likely see those records broken.

All countries across the UK have already exceeded their typical average rainfall for the whole winter (according to the 1981-2010 long-term averages). Normally at this stage of the season, you’d expect to have seen only around 80% of that whole season average.

All areas are also on target for a significantly wetter than average winter, with typically around 130-160% of normal rainfall if we get average rainfall for the rest of February.

All countries and areas are also on target for a warmer than average winter.

Current record wettest winters:

Country Year Rainfall Winter 2014 to date*
UK 1995 485.1mm 429.2mm
ENGLAND 1915 392.7mm 328.0mm
WALES 1995 684.1mm 618.7mm
SCOTLAND 1995 649.5mm 558.5mm
NORTHERN IRELAND 1994 489.7mm 360.0mm

 

*These are provisional figures from 1 December 2013 to 10 February 2014 and could change after final quality control checks on data.





UK’s exceptional weather in context

6 02 2014

As the UK’s run of exceptionally wet and stormy weather continues, the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre has looked at how the last two months compare in the historical records.

Here’s some facts and figures for the weather we’ve seen through December and January:

For the UK

  • For the UK, December was provisionally the equal-fifth wettest December in the national series dating back to 1910 and January was the third wettest January in the same record. When the two months are combined, it is provisionally the wettest December and January in the series.
  • There were more days of rain (any day with more than 1mm of rainfall) for the UK in January than for any other month in a series dating back to 1961, with 23 days.
  • It was the windiest December for the UK in records back to 1969, based on the occurrence of winds in excess 60 kts (69mph).

England and Wales

  • Looking at the England and Wales Precipitation series, which dates back to 1766, it has been the wettest December to January since 1876/1877 and the 2nd wettest overall in the series.

Scotland

  • December was the wettest calendar month on record for Scotland in the series to 1910.
  • For eastern Scotland, December and January combined was provisionally the wettest two month (any-month) period in the same series.

Southern England

  • There have been very few dry days in this area since 12 December and regional statistics suggest that this is one of, if not the most, exceptional periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years.
  • Despite the rainfall being concentrated in the second half of the month it was the wettest December for south east England since 1959.
  • January was the wettest January for the south England region in the national series dating back to 1910, and the wettest calendar month for the south east region in the same series by a huge margin.
  • The two-month total of 372.2mm for the southeast and central southern England region is the wettest any 2-month period in the series from 1910 .
  • From 12th December to 31st January parts of south England recorded over five months worth of rainfall (based on average January rainfall for the region).

You can see more statistics on recent weather and through the historical records on our UK climate pages.

Full month provisional statistics from January 2014:

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
January
Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 4.8 1.1 44.8 95 183.8 151
England 5.4 1.3 57.3 106 158.2 191
Wales 5.3 1.2 38.0 78 269.0 171
Scotland 3.5 0.9 27.2 76 205.3 116
N Ireland 4.5 0.3 37.3 84 170.7 147




Wind gusts and rainfall totals 4-5th February 2014

5 02 2014

Last night another major Atlantic depression affected the UK, bringing further heavy rain and severe gales.

Here are some of the highest gusts of wind and rainfall totals recorded at Met Office observing stations between 3pm yesterday and 8am today.

Location Area Height (m) Max gust (mph)
SCILLY: ST MARYS AIRPORT ISLES OF SCILLY 31 92
BERRY HEAD DEVON 58 91
CULDROSE CORNWALL 76 76
WIGHT: NEEDLES OLD BATTERY ISLE OF WIGHT 80 71
PLYMOUTH, MOUNTBATTEN DEVON 50 71
ABERPORTH DYFED 133 70
CARDINHAM, BODMIN CORNWALL 200 70
ISLE OF PORTLAND DORSET 52 70
ST BEES HEAD NO 2 CUMBRIA 124 68
CAMBORNE CORNWALL 87 67
CAPEL CURIG NO 3 GWYNEDD 216 66
GUERNSEY: AIRPORT GUERNSEY 101 64
ORLOCK HEAD DOWN 35 64
MILFORD HAVEN DYFED 44 63
POINT OF AYRE ISLE OF MAN 9 62
NORTH WYKE DEVON 177 61
JERSEY: AIRPORT JERSEY 84 61
PEMBREY SANDS DYFED 3 61
DUNKESWELL AERODROME DEVON 252 60
MUMBLES HEAD WEST GLAMORGAN 43 60
Location Area Rainfall (mm)
NORTH WYKE DEVON 33.4
CAMBORNE CORNWALL 25.2
DUNKESWELL AERODROME DEVON 24.6
CARDINHAM, BODMIN CORNWALL 24.4
BANAGHER, CAUGH HILL LONDONDERRY 24.0
KATESBRIDGE DOWN 23.8
HIGH WYCOMBE, HQAIR BUCKINGHAMSHIRE 21.4
LISCOMBE SOMERSET 21.4
EXETER AIRPORT DEVON 21.2
DALWHINNIE INVERNESS-SHIRE 18.6
ALICE HOLT LODGE HAMPSHIRE 18.4
OKEHAMPTON DEVON 17.9
CULDROSE CORNWALL 17.6
BENSON OXFORDSHIRE 17.6
ODIHAM HAMPSHIRE 17.2
BUDE CORNWALL 17.0
CARTERHOUSE ROXBURGHSHIRE 17.0
CHARLWOOD SURREY 17.0
UPPER LAMBOURN BERKSHIRE 16.8
TREDEGAR GWENT 16.6

Further severe gales and heavy rain are expected over the next few days and everyone is advised to stay up to date with the latest Met Office forecasts and National Severe Weather Warnings and be prepared that the weather may change or worsen, leading to disruption of your plans.





December weather summary

22 01 2014

December saw some settled weather but also some stormy periods. A major winter storm on 5th brought strong winds to Scotland with a storm-surge mainly affecting the east coast. A succession of deep Atlantic low pressure systems brought heavy rain and very strong winds for most areas, with frequent gusts of 60 to 70 mph. This was the windiest December in records from 1969 and one of the windiest calendar months since January 1993. On Christmas Eve a mean-sea-level-pressure of 936 hPa was recorded at Stornoway (Western Isles), the lowest such value at a UK land station for many years.

The UK mean temperature was 5.7 °C, which is 1.8 °C above the 1981-2010 average, provisionally the warmest December since 1988.The UK overall received 154% of average rainfall and Scotland had its wettest December in a series from 1910. There was provisionally 108% of the long-term average hours of bright sunshine, with western areas rather dull but central and eastern England much sunnier than average. Visit our climate section for a full written summary of the month.

Your pictures

Thank you for sharing your pictures of December weather on Twitter. Here are some of our favourites…





Updated Wind and Rainfall totals for 18th to 19th December

19 12 2013

As forecast there were severe gales and heavy rain overnight. See the tables below for the strongest low level gusts and the largest rain totals across the UK.

We are expecting more stormy weather over the coming days, with spells of heavy rain and gales affecting the UK – with the heaviest rain affecting the west and south west and strongest winds affecting the far north. Warnings for each individual spell of wet and windy weather will be issued when we are confident they will provide useful and accurate advice.

UK MAX HOURLY GUST SPEED 18TH DEC 1800HRS – 19TH DEC 0700HRS

SITE NAME AREA ELEVATION MAX GUST SPEED (MPH)
WIGHT: NEEDLES OLD BATTERY ISLE OF WIGHT 80 94
SOUTH UIST RANGE WESTERN ISLES 4 90
TIREE ARGYLL 9 87
PLYMOUTH, MOUNTBATTEN DEVON 50 85
CASTLEDERG TYRONE 49 84
PEMBREY SANDS DYFED 3 82
CAPEL CURIG NO 3 GWYNEDD 216 81
STORNOWAY AIRPORT WESTERN ISLES 15 77
ALTNAHARRA NO 2 SUTHERLAND 81 77
FAIR ISLE SHETLAND 57 76

24 HOUR UK RAINFALL TOTALS 18TH DEC 0700HRS – 19TH DEC 0700HRS

SITE NAME AREA PRECIP        AMOUNT ( MM)
TREDEGAR GWENT 38.4
CARDINHAM, BODMIN CORNWALL 35
WHITECHURCH DYFED 34.4
TYNDRUM PERTHSHIRE 32.2
LIBANUS POWYS 30.8
SHAP CUMBRIA 30.6
OKEHAMPTON, DEVON 30.6
KESWICK CUMBRIA 28.8
TULLOCH BRIDGE INVERNESS-SHIRE 27
BALA GWYNEDD 26.4




24 hour rainfall totals

6 08 2013

High rainfall totals were recorded yesterday as a band of heavy rain crossed the country.

Libanus in Powys saw the most rain, with 58.8 mm recorded in a 24 hour period. The highest hourly total was 15.4 mm recorded in Tredegar, Gwent between 11 am and 12 pm yesterday.

24 hour rainfall figures from 7 pm 4 August to 7 pm 5 August 

Site Name Area Rainfall (mm)
Libanus                         Powys                58.8
Levens Hall                     Cumbria              56.2
Aberdaron                       Gwynedd              55.6
Porthmadog                      Gwynedd              55.4
Tredegar  Gwent                53
Morecambe                Lancashire           51.2
Capel Curig              Gwynedd              49.8
Mumbles Head                    West Glamorgan       48.6
Camborne                        Cornwall             43
Cardinham, Bodmin           Cornwall             43
Warcop Range           Cumbria              42
St Athan                        South Glamorgan      40.6
Shap                            Cumbria              39.6
Boulmer                         Northumberland       38.8
Culdrose                        Cornwall             36.4
Chivenor                        Devon                35.6
Valley                          Gwynedd              35
Carterhouse                     Roxburghshire        34.2
Charterhall                     Berwickshire         32.8
Durham                          Durham               32.8
Mona                            Isle Of Anglesey     32.4
Walney Island                   Cumbria              32.2
Albemarle                       Northumberland       32
Liscombe                        Somerset             31
Cardiff, Bute Park              South Glamorgan      31
Whitechurch                     Dyfed                30.6




Never mind the stories, summer is not over yet

13 06 2013

After a fortnight of settled and fine weather for most parts of the UK, we’re now seeing more changeable conditions which have led to stories claiming summer is ‘over before it even began’.

They point to our 30-day outlook, which it’s fair to say does make reference to changeable conditions being likely to persist through into the start of July.

However, before we all write off summer, it’s important to emphasise a couple of points.

Firstly, changeable weather isn’t all bad. In this case it means we’re likely to see mainly westerly winds which will allow weather systems to push in from the Atlantic, bringing spells of rain at times. But we’ll also see some dry and bright or sunny spells at times too. So it’s what you’d term as typically British weather and far from a ‘wash out’.

Secondly, we’re not even half way through June. Now, for us meteorologists, the summer runs until the end of August. That means even the 30 day outlook does not get us to half way through the season – so there is still plenty to play for in the forecast for summer 2013.

It’s also worth pointing out that so far, summer has been pretty good – since it began on 1 June, somewhere in the UK has seen a temperature of 20C or above every day.





Visible satellite image of triple lows over the UK

14 05 2013

This visible satellite and rainfall radar image shows the three areas of low pressure affecting the UK today.

satellite and rain 14 May 2013

We can see three low pressure areas showing up as swirls of cloud to the north of Scotland near Shetland, north of Northern Ireland and off south-west England. The centre of the lows show up as cloud free areas.

The low to the south west has developed quickly through today and will bring strong winds this evening to parts of Cornwall.

Keep up to date with forecasts and warnings for your local area on our website.








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