Experimental Long Range Forecast for SW England. March 2017.

Published 18 March 2017.

1. Potential influences.

Changes in sea temperature.


The Sea Temperature Anomaly (above) shows fairly small differences from previous anomaly charts. There looks to be some cooling, relative to average, in the Atlantic along 30 deg North and a little warming in the eastern Pacific near the equator which is consistent with the slow transition to El Nino conditions as shown in the graphic below.


Ensemble forecast for the Nino 3.4 area of the Pacific. Left NMME+IMME and Right CFSv2.

The influence El Nino has on rainfall in the SW of the UK according the statistical output produced by IRI is such that there is an increased probability of near normal summer rainfall for the N and W of the Region but less impact in the S and E.

Analysis and Numerical (model) output.

A: Stratosphere:

The polar vortex at 30hPa remains displaced with further weakening likely in the next couple of weeks, s shown by the ECMWF 30Hpa forcast below. Analysis by JMA shows N Pole Temperature above normal following the February Stratospheric Warming.


B: Troposphere:

NMME 200hPa data was not available. CFS2 data continues to suggest above normal heights and hence reduced westerly Atlantic jet flow for the next several mouths. Note, however, that in August the anomaly is reduced over the UK area.



C: Hydrological Summary – see February 2017 summary PDF

River flows across SW England were only slightly below normal in February but for the Winter (Dec to Feb) flow were generally below normal and in the north of the region, exceptionally low. Rainfall for the winter was below normal and showed a return period of between 10 and 20 years. Looking at longer lead periods for example; Sept to Feb and March 2016 to Feb 2017, the return period for the recorded below average rainfall extends to as much as 25 years. According to South West Water reservoir storage is about 82 percent of normal  and is running below the drought level of 1995, although much depends on rainfall over the next few months as o whether this will have an impact on summer water availability. There is a lot more water storage available in the SW than during the 1980’s when there were significant water restrictions in places.

D: Surface outlook.

There is good support from international seasonal model output (March 2017 data) for temperatures to be above normal as illustrated by the NMME temperature anomaly plots below.  Rainfall is more problematic and there is much less agreement between the models with regards month to month and location specific detail. For example recent CFS2 data (output date 16th March) suggests SW of UK being drier in April and wetter in July. The drier weather in NMME output being a little further south over France in April, which is typical of the type of variability between models.


Some models indicate above normal sea level pressure over the UK during the next several months, although this becomes a weaker signal in the south of the UK for the summer with hints at lower pressure in the south and over France.

Recent results.

UK: Verification for the December 2016 to February 2017 period showed that the temperature for the season was a reasonably guide for the UK but precipitation was often over estimated. Looking back to Summer 2016 NMME forecast in March and May 2016 gave some good indication for drier types in the south of UK in July.

2. Forecast.

Remainder of Spring (2017 April and May) :

Average temperature probably above normal for both April and May although with the chance of periods of High Pressure could not rule out some chilly nights in April. In May perhaps only slightly above the long term average.

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. There is a chance for above normal rainfall in all areas but rainfall tends to be over forecast in the models.

Climate: 1981-2010 average period. Spring mean temperature 9 or 10°C but a few degrees cooler over the moors. Roughly Apr 8 or 9°C  May 11 or 12°C. Spring average rainfall 200 to 300mm lowest values in E Devon and over parts of Somerset,  April  typically 60 to 80mm but in SW Devon and parts of Cornwall 80 to 100mm to as low as 40 mm East of the Moors also in Somerset and parts of Dorset to more than 100 mm over the moors. May typically 60 to 80mm but as low as 40mm E of Moors and in Somerset and parts of Dorset and more than 100mm over the moors.

Summer 2017  (June July August):

Consistent indication for temperatures to be warmer than 1981 to 2010 average although some western coastal areas may be nearer normal. July may be further above average then August but there are no indications for a cooler than normal summer.

Rainfall, probably drier then average in terms of number of dry days and possibly also rain total. Uncertain as to which month might have the highest number of wet days. Fairly strong signal for July to be drier. Indications for lower pressure than normal over France and the South of the UK may imply increased risk of thunder showers with highly variable rainfall in August.

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.

Autumn  2017  (September, October and November) 2017 – limited data:

Possibly a drier and warmer start to Autumn then near normal or wetter with milder than normal temperatures.

Autumn climate: 1981 to 2010 average mean temperature 11 or 12°C but nearer 10°C in rural areas. Maximum temperatures average 14 to 16°C. November normally colder than October which is colder than September. Average 1981 to 2010 rain 300 to 400mm, 600 to 800mm over the moors but east of the moors and in lowland Somerset more like 200 to 300mm . September often drier than October or November.

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