Experimental Long Range Forecast for SW England. January 2017.

Published 18 January 2017.

1. Potential influences.

Changes in sea temperature.


Sea temperature anomalies are very similar to a month ago with areas of above normal near to the UK and a similar area of below normal in the North Atlantic. In the Pacific the weak La Nina continues to weaken with essentially neutral conditions over the next several months, possibly trending to weak El Nino conditions late in 2017. This is illustrated by the CFS2 and NMME ENSO 3.4 area forecast sea temperature shown below.


Numerical (model) output.

A: Stratosphere:

The North Polar Vortex was slow to establish during the early winter but is now well established with temperatures low enough for Ozone reduction. Zonal 50hPa and Polar 30hPa temperature plots are shown below.


Ozone shows at least a reduction of 20% in the polar vortex area although this area remains out of sunlight for now.


Areas of stratospheric warming developing across the Pacific are likely to lead the polar vortex being disturbed. Consequently the colder temperatures in the polar vortex may relocate and not persist resulting in a recovery in Ozone values.


The 50hPa analysis 17th Jan 1200UTC shows the strong polar vortex and the forecast sequence suggests a relocation of the vortex and perhaps the start of conditions favourable to more blocked surface patterns for the start of February. The evolution of the polar vortex/stratospheric warming will need to be watched to see if moves to a pattern more conducive to blocked surface patterns for the UK area due and a reversal of the stratospheric flow.

B: Troposphere:

The NMME 200hPa output suggest above normal heights over the UK in the period February to August 2017 but there is also a suggestion of enhanced jet flows across parts of the N Atlantic steering low pressure towards or to the North of the UK. Consequently a winter blocked pattern may be in the wrong place to bring significantly colder temperatures to the UK for the last part of Winter/Early Spring.


NMME 200hPa anomalies with (lower row) CFS2 mean and anomaly Feb to May 2017


As above but for the period June to August 2017

C: Surface NMME output:


NMME month mean anomaly. February to May 2017. Top row temperature. Lower row indication of above (oranges) or below (blues) model normal rainfall rates.


NMME data as above but for period June to August 2017.

Model output (as available between 1st and 18th January) mostly agrees with the idea of above normal temperatures (as shown in the graphics above) although, in February, the outcome for the S of the UK is perhaps less clear cut with NASA data hinting at a colder and CFS2 suggesting near normal. Rainfall is always more problematic because rainfall is often about mean rain rates and short periods of heavy rain not likely to be captured, hence sometimes drier than normal might mean less rain days rather than lower rainfall totals.

Recent results.

Verification for the October to December 2016 period showed that seasonal model rainfall output was quite misleading, partly due to the poor prediction of blocking High Pressure and associated dry weather. Consequently given the risk of a stratospheric warming event leading to increased chance of blocking there may also be an increased chance of drier and colder weather for a time in February or March.

The first half of winter has been drier and milder than average with below average sunshine (cloudier skies) but above average pressure. This is probably unusual because dry weather and high pressure in winter is more likely to lead to colder than milder temperatures.

2. Forecast.

Remainder of Winter ( 2017 February) :

The mean temperature in February is most likely to be near or above the longer term average with less frequent frosts. The early part of the month is most likely to be mild, though with a risk of colder spells later. Despite higher than average pressure winds may often be from between West and South suggesting rather cloudy skies.

Rainfall probably near or below normal at least during the first half of the month. The snow risk remains lower than average which means some snow accumulation over the moors but not much elsewhere.

February climate: Temperature 1981-2010  typical mean 5 or 6°C but over 6°C in West Cornwall and only 2 or 3°C over the higher ground). Rainfall: 60 to 80mm to lee of moors, but 40 to 60mm over parts of Somerset. 80 to 100 elsewhere but higher totals over parts of Cornwall and NW Devon but over 200mm  over the higher moors). Snow climatology  many low lying areas less than 1 Day on average, hills 1 to 4 days but tops of moors 4 to 10 days. One in three years have no lying snow.

Spring (2017 March April and May) :

Mean temperatures probably above normal for the season, as well as for each individual month. March may well be relatively milder (stronger anomaly) than April or May which could be closer to normal. Rainfall probably near normal for the season, perhaps above normal in the more exposed western parts of the Southwest but below normal in parts of South and East Devon, parts of Somerset and into Dorset. March could be the “wetter” month of the three.

Spring climate: 1981-2010 average mean temperature 9 or 10°C but a few degrees cooler over the moors. Roughly Mar 7 or 8°C Apr 8 or 9°C  May 11 or 12°C. Average 1981 to 2010 rain 200 to 300mm lowest values in E Devon and over parts of Somerset.

Summer 2017  (June July August):

Slightly warmer than average summer temperatures although some western areas may be nearer normal due to more frequent west winds. Rainfall, probably drier then average in terms of number of dry days if not the rain totals. Drier types more especially for June and July rather than August. Note a drier June and/or July and wetter August is not unusual.

Summer climate: 1981 to 2010 average daily mean temperature 14 or 15°C in many areas to 16 or 17°C in main urban areas also locally east of the moors and more widely in Somerset. Maximum temperatures average 19 to over 21°C in similar areas. July often warmer than August. Average 1981 to 2010 rain 300mm over the moors, typically 200 to 250mm in many coastal and eastern areas. June often drier than July and July drier than August.

3. Caution.

Experimental Long Range Forecasts do not have a good success rate. The data used for the above forecast summary and brief verification of previous Long Range Forecast summaries can be seen at   http://www.weatherservice.co.uk

The attempt at a Regional Forecast for SW England aims to test whether such a forecast of temperature and rainfall variation from average can be made using numerical model data available on the internet. The forecast should not be used for any other purpose. A brief verification summary for the UK and Eire is routinely published at http://www.weather-info.co.uk/wxsvc/Verification.html or Click here for the Teignmouth and Dawlish summary

4. References.

SST anomaly NOAA Remote Sens. 2014, 6(11), 11579-11606; doi:10.3390/rs61111579

IRI statistics: Mason, S.J. and L. Goddard, 2001: Probabilistic precipitation anomalies associated with ENSO. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 82, 619-638.

UK climate details see: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate/

NMME information:   http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00050.1

CFS2  info