Experimental Long Range Forecast for SW England. May 2017 issue.

Published 17 May 2017.

1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature.


The Sea Temperature Anomaly (above) shows further cooling in western parts of the North Atlantic and little change in the warmer than average area in the East Pacific. The North Sea, Biscay and northern Mediterranean areas look to be a little cooler than average for mid May.

El Nino 3.4 predictions suggest a slight strengthening as shown by the NMME and CFS2 forecast plots below, although CFS2 has been trending nearer normal but with a large spread in solutions


The influence of an 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.

The North Atlantic Oscillation (shown by a 500hPa index in the image below) has gone negative during May. Should this be maintained then this might imply a drier and warmer summer for the UK. See Met Office NAO information.


Analysis and Numerical (model) output.

A: Rainfall during April was unusually low across much of SW England – for details see the Hydrological Summary –  April 2017 summary PDF

There was some very heavy rain for two days spanning the end of April and start of May across parts of S Devon and W Dorset. Depending on whether rainfall measurement period 00-24 or the standard UK climate period of 0900-0900 is used half the rain total was either included in the May or in the latter case the April rainfall figures. Since then, following a dry week or so, May has become wetter. Following a “dry” winter reservoir levels remain below normal for the time of year and also below the 1995 drought levels. Water storage is much greater than during the 1980’s when significant water saving measures came into play.  For reservoir details see SW Water web site.

B: Upper Troposphere:

NMME 200hPa ensemble mean was not available. Looking at four of the available models there was agreement in that heights would be mostly above normal in July and possibly other summer months and that an enhanced SW jet was likely in November near UK and between 40 and 50 deg North across the Atlantic.


CFS2 200hPa mean height (top row) and anomaly (lower row) for June to August

Taken together 3 out of 5 of the models in the NMME grouping suggest above normal heights for the June to October period.


CFS2 200hPa mean height and anomaly September to November

Looking at data from the Copernicus ensemble system for 500hPa height anomalies there is a strong signal for above normal heights this summer although Meteo France hints a lower heights near to the South of the Uk and more especially further south over France and the Mediterranean.

C: Lower Troposphere:

There is a very strong signal from most models for above normal temperatures during both Summer and Autumn, although Meteo France suggest coastal areas near E or SE facing coasts might well be cooler in June and given the cooler N Sea temperatures at present this may be correct for the early part of June. BCC China suggests that the next colder than average month might be December. The stronger anomaly in November probably linked to increased Atlantic mobility which shows up in the rainfall rate anomaly.


June July and August 2017. NMME whole month temperature anomaly (top row) and  indication for above or below model normal rainfall (lower row).

In general rainfall anomalies are less well forecast and show bigger variations in detail between the models.  That said there is some agreement that July could be the drier month and November the wetter.


September October and November 2017. NMME whole month temperature anomaly (top row) and  indication for above or below model normal rainfall (lower row).

Verification. Recent results summary for 2017.

January to April 2017 models overall had a good idea that temperature would be above normal but rainfall forecasts where not especially good with little signal for a very dry April. UK area Seasonal Forecast Verification


2. Forecast.


Summer 2017  (June July August):

Above normal temperatures are most likely and possibly well above normal values. There is a risk that Easterly winds may be more frequent than normal, due to higher than normal pressure over and to the north of the UK. This may make some coastal areas exposed to the east wind cooler at times especially during early June until sea temperatures increase.


Rainfall, probably drier than 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 but some  hints that June could be wetter at least for a time followed by a drier July and more mixed picture in August. Indication of lower pressure than normal over France and the South of the UK may imply increased risk of thunder showers during the summer leading to highly variable rainfall totals.

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) :

Consistent indication for a warmer than normal September with temperatures above normal throughout the season. Possibly well above normal in November, although this may be offset by stronger winds?

Rainfall in September and October probably near or below normal but followed by a wet November, so on balance ending up near normal for the Autumn season.

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.

Winter (2017 December, 2018  January and February)  – very limited data:

December may have colder than normal temperatures in places although the SW of England probably near normal. Returning to milder than normal for the remainder of winter.

Rainfall is likely to be above normal with little if any snow except perhaps over the moors.

Winter Climate: 1981-2010 average temperature values for lowland areas 7°C in the West and 5°C in the East. Rainfall; Dec and Jan typically wetter than February. 1981-2010 Autumn average 300-400 mm lowlands but 200-300 mm areas to E of Dartmoor. Snow climatology less than 5 days lying snow over lowland areas 5 to 10 hills, say hills around 200 metre elevation – one in three years have no lying snow.

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