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

Published 17 October 2017.

1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature.


The colder sea temperature anomalies to the SW of the UK have gone although the recent Extra Tropical Ophelia may have caused some cooling/up welling since the image date although this was not evident on an image for the 16th (not shown). Some relative cooling can be seen in the eastern Caribbean but in general the tropical North Atlantic is above normal and expected to remain warmer than normal (see image below). La Nina is evident in the Pacific and forecast to remain as a weak La Nina through to Spring 2018.



NMME Nino3.4 forecast left. UKMO tropical North Atlantic forecast right.


CFS Nino 3.4 forecast left. Observed NAO index right.

The North Atlantic Oscillation index (shown by a 500hPa index in the image above) turned positive fairly early in October after a negative phase in September. Weak indication at present for a milder/wetter winter season. For more information see Met Office NAO information.

La Nino conditions counter this to some extent with the IRI statistical relationship between La Nina and UK rainfall for the winter shown below. La Nina is weak so influence may not be strong.

La Nina

Winter season probabilities for Dry/Normal/We based on La Nina occurring 

Analysis and Numerical (model) output.

A: Rainfall during September was above normal across SW England, especially parts of S and SW Devon and S and E Cornwall, in terms of both measured rain and the number of wet days. Parts of Somerset and Dorset though were near normal or even a bit below.

Recent reservoir water levels remain above normal for the time of year. River flows and groundwater in the region are available from the Hydrological Summary  –  September 2017 summary PDF

Sunshine was again below normal during September and the temperature was near or even a little cooler than the 1981 to 2010 averaging periods but near normal when compared to the 1961 to 1990 period. The last generally warmer than average month being June 2017.

B: Upper Troposphere:

Average monthly 200hPa heights are again forecast to be above normal right through until February 2018 in the CFS2 data although increased zonal flow is also indicated January and February. Possibly suggesting low pressure tracks over the central or south of the UK during February rather than over or to the north as in January. Hint of more northerly flows in December?


CFS2 200hPa heights (top) and anomalies (lower) November 2017 to February 2018

C: Lower Troposphere:

Temperature anomalies have been consistent in suggesting above normal temperatures in most model output, see NMME and CFS2 images below as example. Recently anomalies have been slightly warm so perhaps for November and December in SW England temperature may be nearer normal.


NMME Temperature anomaly (top). Rain rate anomaly (lower). November 2017 to February 2018

Rainfall forecasts are more variable in model output as can be seen by comparing NMME above and CFS2 below. There is also little if any consistency run to run. The main signal seems to be for above normal rain during the winter season but with some months possibly near or below normal made up for by wetter months.


CFS2  Temperature anomaly (top). Rain rate anomaly (lower). November 2017 to February 2018

D: Comment:  Seasonal temperature and rainfall forecast data have been poor recently, which is consistent with the data from 2016 which showed poor results for output issued during August and September. Rainfall forecasts were especially poor. Verification summary.

2. Forecast.

Remainder of Autumn  2017  (November) :

Temperature and rainfall are likely to average out to near or perhaps slightly above the long term average for SW England, although there is a chance that some eastern areas may be drier than normal.

November Climate: 1981 to 2010 November average mean temperature 8 or 9°C but nearer 6°C in upland areas. Maximum temperatures average 11 or 12°C but lower in upland areas. Average 1981 to 2010 rain 80 to 100mm to lee of Exmoor and Dartmoor (as low as 60mm over parts of Somerset) but  in western areas 100 to 200mm is fairly typical with over 250mm over the tops of the moors. 

Winter (2017 December, 2018  January and February) :

There is a strong indication for a mild winter in the SW of England which continues to be signalled by almost all model output. This does not rule out some colder spells but suggests that they will be short lived.  There is a suggestion that temperature anomalies could be lower early in the winter and higher later which hints at the temperature in December being nearer normal but with relatively milder months to follow.

Rainfall is uncertain month to month but the main theme of a wetter than normal winter seems to be consistent although December may be less wet. The snow risk is reduced compared to average with little if any snow for lower ground but some snow for 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)  limted data:

Temperature probably near or slightly above normal for the season. Rainfall near or a little below normal at least in parts of the region.

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