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

Published 24 February 2020 (delayed due laptop failure).

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1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature.


Changed map. Now using 5km rather than 50km sea temperature anomaly data

North Atlantic sea temperatures remain above average apart from a cooler section in Mid Atlantic to the west of Ireland.  The southern North Sea and the Baltic as well as Arctic area show values well above average.


The tropical north Atlantic was again 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). The forecast has been a little quick to lift temperatures over recent issues.


In the Pacific neutral or weak El-Nino conditions are present but forecasts suggest conditions are likely to trend cooler during Summer 2020 – see CFSv2 and NMME multi model ensemble forecast above.

The North Atlantic Oscillation index (shown by a 500hPa index in the image below) has been mostly positive since early December 2019 and is forecast to remain slightly positive over the next week or so but trending lower before mid March.


NAO background information see the Met Office NAO information.

Recent Climatology

February (to 23rd) has been very mild across the south of the UK with temperatures running about two degrees above average and in places over double the normal rainfall.


Given the February data, Winter (Dec to Feb) will turn out to have been unusually mild and wetter than average.

River flows and groundwater in January 2020 reflected the much wetter conditions in December and will no doubt be above average following the rain in February. Groundwater in eastern England shows signs of recovery. Details can be found in the January 2020 Hydrological summary PDF 


The reservoir levels in the SW of England (16th  February) showed 92% storage. The less than 100% value is due to Roadford and Colliford as the the three other main reservoirs are at 100% capacity.


Global Flood Awareness System February forecast risk through to May 2020 largely reflects the well above average rain this winter.


Atmosphere: Predictions.

A:  1: Stratosphere

The polar stratospheric vortex moved east and reduced due to a significant warming event, as shown by the 10hPa temperature plot at the North Pole but this was quickly reversed as the vortex strengthened again becoming an unusually strong circulation.


ECMWF 10 and 50hPa 23/1200UTC data shows the strong vortex. Changes over the following 10 days may result in a reversal of the stratospheric wind over Europe early in March. This in turn implies a less mobile weather pattern could develop later in March at least over southern UK, although this development is not clear cut.

The stratospheric low temperatures and the static nature of the vortex recently has again allowed a reduction in total column Ozone to values just above the nominal “Ozone Hole” number of 220DU. The chart below shows the departure from average of the total column ozone.


A: 2: Upper Troposphere

CFSv2 200hPa contours for March to May 2020 are shown below (top row) along with the anomalies from CFS (lower row). Suggestion of  enhanced Atlantic jet for March across the northern part of the UK imply unsettled types but this risk reduces for April and May.


B: Lower Troposphere:

A selection of March to May (Spring) solutions using February 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 from WMO but are available elsewhere.


WMO multi ensemble









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




NMME Spring


USA CFSv2 E3 version Spring 2020

Selected June to August summer graphics.


NMME summer 2020


NASA summer

C: Comparing the output of seasonal models for November December 2019  January 2020, based on October data.

UK area based on September 2019 data.

Good signal for above average temperature for the season BUT very few models suggested a colder November. NASA had a good trend and NMME had lower anomalies for November increasing in subsequent months.
Generally poor indication for drier areas month to month. Overall signal for a wetter than average three months was OK but detail was poor.

For graphics and details see Verification review 2019 Nov Dec 2020 Jan from Oct data.

2. Forecast. SW England.

Spring 2020  (March April May) 

Models seem not to be able to reliably predict colder months (eg forecast for November), so despite a strong signal for above average temperatures for the season a near normal or  colder than average spell seems possible some time in March/April. This idea would fit with the changes expected in the stratosphere.

Precipitation for the season as a whole is uncertain but probably a drier than average period in March/April. then a return to near normal rainfall amounts. 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

Near or slightly above average temperatures are expected for the summer season but  August values could be closer to normal.  Rainfall patterns very mixed but the wetter than average solutions for the season as a whole look to outweigh the drier ones. No reliable indication for any month being especially drier.

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) limited data.

Overall above average temperature and rainfall is suggested for the season but October could be drier and colder than average according to two out of the three available models.

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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