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

Published 20 August 2017.

1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature.


East and Central parts of the North Atlantic have cooled or remain cooler than normal but Northern and Western parts are now significantly above normal. In the short term winds from the NW may result in cooler than normal temperatures but longer term the potential rise in temperatures hints at a mild Autumn and perhaps Winter.

El Nino is expected to remain in a neutral phase as shown in the CFS2 and NMME ensemble forecast below. A developing  El Nino typically acts to reduce Atlantic Hurricanes hence this effect is not likely for the coming season although the Atlantic season has been a bit slow to develop so far.


Tropical Atlantic temperatures are above normal as shown by the UKMO graphic below and the North Atlantic Oscillation (shown by a 500hPa index in the image below) turned positive in June and more or less remained in a positive phase until the third week in July before reverting to a negative phase. See Met Office NAO information.


Analysis and Numerical (model) output.

A: Rainfall during June and July was above normal across much of SW England, in terms of total rain, and this has mostly made up for the deficit from previous months except perhaps in some eastern parts of the region. Interestingly the number of “dry” days was close to the average adding to the evidence for rain events to be “heavier” when they occur which may be linked to global warming as temperatures despite the rain have been normal or above.

Recent reservoir water levels although slightly below average, have recovered. River flows and groundwater in the region show mixed results with moorland rivers showing increased flow as can be seen in the Hydrological Summary –  July 2017 summary PDF


B: Upper Troposphere:

Average monthly 200hPa heights are forecast to be above normal right through until February in the CFS 2 data although increased zonal flow is also indicated later in the Autumn and into to Winter period.


CFS2 200hPa height month mean and anomaly September to November 2017


CFS2 200hPa month means height and anomaly December 2017 to February 2018

C: Lower Troposphere:

NMME data continues to indicate strong positive temperature anomalies into Autumn and through Winter, although September values are near normal in SW England in the latest NMME forecast possibly due to the cooler than average sea temperatures just west of the UK. There remains strong agreement between most available models that temperatures will be above average through winter.


NMME Sep to Nov 2017 temperature anomaly


NMME temperature anomaly December 2017 to February 2018

Forecasts of precipitation issued based on August data have a low success rate compared to the temperature anomalies. That said there is a signal for a wetter than normal winter period with the main uncertainty in the Autumn.


NMME precipitation anomaly for September to November 2017


NMME precipitation anomaly December 2017 to February 2018


Combined ECMWF/UKMO/Meteo France. Temperature and Rainfall Tercile summary September to November 2017. 


2. Forecast.


Autumn  2017  (September, October and November) :

There remains a consistent indication for a warmer/milder than normal season. Possibly well above normal in October but perhaps close to normal in September.

Rainfall probably near normal or a little below normal for the season but the month to month detail is inconsistent and at least one month may be see above normal rain. The trend is for increasing rainfall rates later in the Autumn.

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) :

A mild or very mild winter is likely which does not rule out some colder spells. Individual station plots indicate brief cold snaps around the turn of the year and perhaps in February.

Probably windier than typical and rainfall is likely to be above normal for the season. Snow risk reduced compared to average, mainly in late December then 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.

Spring (2018 March April and May)  very limted data:

Average temperature probably above normal for the season and rainfall near or a little below normal.

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.



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