Review and Experimental Long Range Forecast for SW England. January 2020.

Published 17 January  2020.

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1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature.


North Atlantic and North Pacific sea temperature anomalies continue to show above average values although both areas, roughly between 40 and 60 degrees North, show some cooler well mixed areas probably due to due to storms. The North Sea is slightly above the long satellite term average.


The tropical north Atlantic was analysed as slightly below normal but is forecast to remain very slightly warmer than average through Spring and early Summer 2020 (See Met Office graphic above).

In the Pacific neutral or weak El-Nino conditions are present and forecasts suggest conditions are likely to remain similar over winter then trend cooler during Summer 2020 – see CFSv2 and NMME multi model ensemble forecast below.


The North Atlantic Oscillation index (shown by a 500hPa index in the image below) has been positive since early December 2019 – implying a milder, wetter, winter 2019/2020. However ensemble forecasts show a trend to a negative phase in about a weeks time which fits in with forecast for high pressure to develop over the UK. The forecast shown in the December review suggested a negative NAO but in practice the diagnostic remained positive (just).


NAO background information see the Met Office NAO information.

Recent Climatology

The first half of January has seen temperatures well above average, the anomaly to the 17th being between plus 2 and plus 3 Celsius, although colder temperatures to come may reduce this for the month as a whole. Rainfall has been above average with some places already close to the January total and sunshine looks to have been below average.

Temperature and rainfall anomalies for October to December 2019 are shown below. A  summary for the Teignmouth and Dawlish area is available here.



Central England temperature series updated to Min January 2020

Despite the mostly drier October, for the three months rainfall was above average across SW England


Europe anomalies for 2019 are shown below.


River flows and groundwater in December reflect the much wetter conditions though it is interesting to see that groundwater in eastern England remains low. Details can be found in the December 2019 Hydrological summary PDF 


The reservoir levels in the SW of England (12th January) show 86% storage, which is above normal for the time of year. The less than full percentage seems to be due to Roadford and Colliford with the three other main reservoirs being at capacity.


Global Flood Awareness System January risk forecast through to April 2020 largely reflects the well above average rain in November and December.


Atmosphere: Predictions.

A:  1: Stratosphere

The North Polar stratospheric vortex, after its weakening and migration east in Nov/Dec, returned over the pole and became very strong with very low temperatures near the centre.  Further warming incidents may again move the vortex centre eastwards over the next few weeks.


The stratospheric low temperatures (eg: below minus 80 Celius at 50hPa) and the strength and static nature of the vortex over recent weeks has allowed a reduction in total column Ozone to values just above the nominal “Ozone Hole” number of 220DU.


The transfer east of the North Polar stratospheric vortex may allow greater mixing and redistribution of the ozone over the next month.

A: 2: Upper Troposphere

CFSv2 contours for February March and April are shown below (top row) along with the anomalies from CFS (middle row) and NMME (lower row). CFSv2 in particular suggest enhanced Atlantic jet for February and March across the northern part of the UK.


B: Lower Troposphere:

A selection of February to April solutions using January 2020 data are shown below. Three month season and individual months, top row temperature anomaly and lower row precipitation anomaly.

White areas are where the probabilities of below/normal/above are similar hence there is no overall signal for this period from the WMO super ensemble (BoM, CMC, Moscow, DWD, CPTEC, Seoul, Washington, Tokyo, Toulouse, ECMWF) UKMO,  Beijing and Pretoria not available in time for this publication from WMO but are available elsewhere.


WMO 10 model composite ensemble


BoM – one of the colder solutions.


CFS2 – Washington – tends to be warm



Further examples from WMO are available at the weather-info site.


NMME  Feb to May


ECMWF Feb to May 



NASA Feb to May

Summer 2020


NMME June July August 2020


NASA June July August

C: Comparing how well the models did for October, November December 2019.

UK area based on September 2019 data.

Most models were overly warm but there was a good indication of a much milder December although the colder November and to some extent October was not well forecast. Models that got colder values did not get the upturn in December. NASA got the trend reasonably well.
Month to month detail was poor although some indication in NMME data was good. For the season WMO gave a hint at wetter in SW UK and Eire.

For graphics and details see Verification review Oct Nov Dec 2019 from Septemberg forecasts.

2. Forecast. SW England.

Remainder of Winter  (February 2020) 

The indication for a milder than average February remains the main signal but there is uncertainty in evolution of any significant stratospheric warming which might lead to a less mobile (westerly) pattern and hence nearer average or even cold solutions for a time later in the month.

February could be less wet than earlier winter months with nearer average rainfall, perhaps above average in exposed western areas and drier than average east of the moors.

Risk of snow mainly for the moors and temporary in nature.

February Climate: 1981-2010 Temperature; average temperature values for lowland areas 5 or 6°C but over 6°C in West Cornwall. Rainfall;  February. 1981-2010 average 80-100mm mm lowlands but 60-80mm in areas to E of Dartmoor and 40-80mm East of Exmoor. Over the Moors 100-250mm. .

Winter Climate: 1981-2010 average temperature values for lowland areas 7°C in the West and 5°C in the East. Rainfall;  January typically wetter than February. 1981-2010 Winter 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 2020  (March April May) 

Near or slightly above average temperature for the season but in some models March and in others May is indicated as being a less mild month (relative to its average). Precipitation uncertain but probably near or a little above average but perhaps fewer than average wet days.

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 2020  (June July August)  limited data

Slightly above average temperature but possibly nearer normal in August. Rainfall uncertain but indications for near or perhaps slightly above average for the season overall though some longer drier periods suggested sometime in the July/August period but probably not a whole calendar month.

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 2020 (September October November) early indications with minimal data.

Slightly above normal or normal temperatures and near normal rain though hints at drier October.

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 can be seen at  here.

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 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:

NMME information:

CFS2  info

GLOFAS Acknowledgement: Data were provided by the Global Flood Awareness System – GloFAS ( of the European Commission Joint Research Centre and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.
Reference: Alfieri, L., Burek, P., Dutra, E., Krzeminski, B., Muraro, D., Thielen, J., and Pappenberger, F.: GloFAS – global ensemble streamflow forecasting and flood early warning, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 1161-1175, doi:10.5194/hess-17-1161-2013, 2013.

‘Copernicus Products’  as listed in the C3S or CAMS Service Product Specification or any other items available through an ECMWF Copernicus

International seasonal monthly data from WMO

Stratospheric Diagnostics from Japan Met Agency and Free University Berlin

Climate data from The Met Office UK and NCEP USA

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