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

Published 17 April 2020.

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1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature


Equatorial sea temperatures look warmer than climatology as are the N Sea and Baltic sea temperature whereas the North Atlantic west of Britain remains near or cooler than average.


The tropical north Atlantic is forecast to remain very slightly warmer than average through Spring and Summer 2020 (See Met Office graphic above).


In the Pacific neutral or weak El-Nino conditions are likely to trend towards cooler / La Nina conditions during Summer and into early Autumn 2020. The CFSv2 model looks quicker than most of the other ensemble systems of the NMME in completing this transition. The timing of the change from El Nino to La Nina might impact on the Atlantic hurricane season, El Nino tending to depress the formation of Atlantic Tropical Storms

University College London forecast issued 7th April 2020 suggests that the Atlantic hurricane activity in 2020 may be 25% above the long-term norm: Intense Hurricanes=3 (70 year average 3) Hurricanes=8 (70 year av 6) Tropical Storms=16 (average 12). Met Office outlook available in May.

The North Atlantic Oscillation index (shown by a 500hPa index in the image below) has been mostly negative since then end of March but is forecast to be roughly neutral over the next few weeks.


NAO background information see the Met Office NAO information.

Recent Climatology

April to the 16th has been very mild with temperature anomalies between 2 and 3 Celsius although cold easterly winds held windward coastal sites lower. It has also been extremely dry with only 3 to 6mm (1 to 4%) of the normal month rain. Rainfall totals were more than doubled on the 17th by a band of rain that moved north from France bringing 5 to 15mm of rain.


River flows in March 2020 reflected the very wet conditions in February followed by nearer normal rain in March with high river flows in most areas except for Aberdeenshire. It is perhaps a surprise that groundwater in eastern England is still below average. Details can be found in the March 2020 Hydrological summary PDF 


The reservoir levels in the SW of England (12th April) showed 95% storage. All main reservoirs are at over 90% capacity.


Global Flood Awareness System. April forecast (high) risk for early part of the forecast decreasing through to July 2020 and largely reflects the well above average rain in February and early March.


Atmosphere: Predictions.

A:  1: Stratosphere

A second phase of significant warming occurred at 10hPa and more recently down to 30hPa as the very persistent stratospheric polar vortex slowly warms out.


ECMWF 10 and 30hPa 16/1200UTC data shows that despite ongoing warming the polar stratospheric vortex is reluctant to be eroded completely but forecast for the 26th shows than warming out is almost complete and the transition to summer mode should take place by the end of April.


A: 2: Upper Troposphere

CFSv2 200hPa contours for May to August 2020 are shown (top row) along with the anomalies from CFS (lower row) and NMME (middle row). Suggestion of  above normal heights through the period.


B: Lower Troposphere:

A selection of May to July solutions using April 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 data.


WMO combined multi model ensemble 




Meteo France


Russian Met Centre






BoM Australia


Korea Met Agency

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


NMME Summer 2020


CFS2 summer 2020


NASA summer 2020


ECMWF summer 2020


UKMO summer 2020

The full selection can be seen at the weather-info site.

C: Comparing the output of seasonal models for January, February and March 2020, based on December 2019 data.

Observed three month period was above average but did anyone get the trend to cooler/near normal in March?

Forecast temperature summary was good for the three month forecast with some idea of less mild in north later.

Observed rainfall for the three month period was above average but largely due to a very wet February, January and March were near or below average across the UK.

Rainfall was OK with the above average indication but not the drier east of UK in Jan and Mar. The seasonal total rain swamped by the very wet Feb.

For graphics and details see Verification review 2020 Jan Feb Mar from December 2019

2. Forecast. SW England.

End of Spring 2020  (May) 

Most models suggest above average temperatures for May.

Precipitation is uncertain but most models suggest  drier than average.

May climate: 1981-2010 average mean temperature 11 or 12°C. Average 1981 to 2010 rain typically 60 to 80mm. Locally as low as 40mm in parts of E Devon and over areas of Somerset but 100 to 150mm over the moors.

Summer 2020  (June July August)  limited data

Slightly above average temperatures are expected for the summer season with July suggested as the month least likely to have above normal values (a change from last month which suggested June rather than July).

Very mixed rainfall patterns but an indication for a drier than average June but possibly wetter July. August solutions split between wetter and drier. Summer rain can be showery or thundery in nature with wide variations in rain days and rain totals across a region.

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 near or above average temperature and above average rainfall is suggested for the season but no agreement for any particular month to be wetter or drier.

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 (2020 December 2021 January February) very limited data.

A milder than average winter in indicated with near or above average rainfall and below average snowfall (snow chiefly 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 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 ECMWF via  Free University Berlin

Climate data from The Met Office UK and NCEP USA