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

Published 18 November 2020.

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1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature

Apart from a cooler area, centred near 55 North 40 West, Atlantic sea temperatures are mostly warmer than climatology as is the area around the UK, Norwegian Sea and Baltic.

The tropical north Atlantic is forecast to remain slightly warmer than average through to at least Spring 2021 (See Met Office graphic below).

Wikipedia states that “The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is the most active season in terms of tropical depressions and named storms and has equalled or broken a number of records. It has been the second season after 2005 to use the Greek-Alphabet, the latest in season forming Category 5 hurricane on record (Iota). Record-breaking most storms to have formed before August through November. Most active September on record with 10 named storms. Record breaking most landfalls in the United States and Louisiana with 12 and 5, respectively. Record-tying 2 named storms in May, and 5 named storms in July. Record-breaking 6th straight season with at least one pre-season storm.

Wikipedia track map so far in 2020

 Colder sea temperatures in the East Pacific just south of the equator show the La Nina is well established and forecast suggest the La Nina will remain active until at least Spring 2021.

The North Atlantic Oscillation index (shown by a 500hPa index in the image below) turned positive in late October but there is about a 30% chance of the index turning negative by December 1st.

Why could a change in the NAO phase be important?

The positive NAO phase represents a stronger than usual difference in pressure between the two regions. Winds from the west dominate, bringing with them warm air, while the position of the jet stream enables stronger and more frequent storms to travel across the Atlantic. These support mild, stormy and wet winter conditions in northern Europe

The negative NAO phase represents the reverse with a weaker than usual difference in pressure. Winds from the east and north-east are more frequent, bringing with them cold air, while the adjusted position of the jet stream leads to weaker and less frequent storms. As a result Europe is more likely to experience cold, calm and dry winters.

For Met Office information about the NAO see

Recent Climatology –  SW England

November to the 18th has been fairly mild with an average temperature around 11 Celsius, which is around two degrees or so above 1981-2010 mean for the month and rainfall has been near or a little above average so far.

Temperatures since summer have been near average with rainfall, taking September and October together, probably a little below average although this follows a “wet summer”. climate data for month of October 2020 and year from November 2019 to October 2020

River flows in October 2020 were above normal across SW England and groundwater levels were also near or a little above normal in the eastern parts of SW England. Details can be found in the October 2020 Hydrological summary PDF 

The reservoir levels in the SW of England were above average as of November 8th 2020.

Global Flood Awareness System. November forecast for the period November to February (shown below) indicates above normal flood risk for much of the UK and Ireland but near average risk in the south. In the river flow image there is just a hint of above average flows in the Exe estuary.

Atmosphere: Predictions.

A:  1: Stratosphere

Data from November 16th shows polar vortex established at 50 and 30hPa. The temperature trace below indicates that temperature in the stratospheric polar region is close to the cold values required for Polar Stratospheric Cloud formation which is implicated in Ozone depletion. This year has seen increased Ozone depletion in the Antarctic Polar Stratosphere and this may be something to watch out for in the North polar region next Spring.

A: 2: Upper Troposphere

CFsv2 200hPa contours (top row) and anomaly (lower row) for Dec Jan and Feb hint at a more cyclonic February across the UK area and may suggest low centres could be steered further north than normal in the early part of winter.

B: Lower Troposphere:

A selection of  December to February (Winter) solutions using November 2020 data are shown below, top row temperature anomaly and lower row precipitation anomaly. 

NMME DJF (tends to be overly warm)
CFS2 10 day mean (E3) data DJF. Tends to be overly warm.

WMO data. Three month average than separate months

WMO super ensemble (11 models) DJF
BoM Australia DJF
Brazil DJF
Canada DJF
Moscow DJF (tends to be cold)
Japan DJF
France DJF
Germany DJF
South Korea DJF

SPRING (March April May) 2021

NMME Spring 2021
WMO Spring 2021

C: Comparing the output of seasonal models for August September October, based on July  2020 data.

For graphics and details see Verification review 2020 Aug Sep Oct

Temperature for the three month mean was correctly indicated as above average but few models got the month to month trend correct – EC and the WMO super ensemble perhaps did best. Rainfall forecasts were poor despite above average being indicated there was little indication for a drier September after a wetter August.

TABLE below is for 3 month data only:
Scoring will attempt to state good, fair, poor or no signal based upon
temperature being normal (fair) or above average (good). Rainfall above average and pressure below average. Errors and omissions excepted.
1. Russia: Temp mostly no signal. PPN no signal.
2. USA – CFS2 : Temp fair . PPN poor .
3. UKMO Contingency: Temp good . PPN good .
4. UKMO : Temp good . PPN no signal. PMSL no signal.
5. USA – IRI : Temp no signal. PPN no signal. .
6. KMA APCC : Temp good . PPN no signal..
7. JMA : Temp good . PPN poor. PMSL poor
8. NMME : Temp good . PPN poor .
9. WMO : Temp fair. PPN poor .
10. BCC : Temp good. PPN poor .
11. NASA – Temp good . PPN fair .
12. Brazil: Temp fair . PPN poor .
13. CanSips : Temp fair . PPN poor .
14. SAWS: : no data
15. Copernicus Temp no signal . PPN no signal . PMSL no signal
16. CMCC Temp no signal . PPN poor . PMSL poor
17: DWD Temp no signal. PPN no signal . PMSL no signal
18. EC Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
19 UKMO Temp good. PPN no signal. PMSL no signal
20. MF Temp no signal . PPN no signal . PMSL no signal
21 NCEP Temp no signal. PPN no signal. PMSL no signal
22. JAMSTEC: no data
23 ECMWF (monthly) Temp: fair. PPN poor
24 IMME Temp: fair . PPN poor

2. Forecast. SW England.

Winter (2020 December 2021 January February).

For the Winter season the mean temperatures is likely to be above average. That said there are some indications that the first half of the Winter could see near average values with some colder than average periods – the latter perhaps most likely in December. There is some agreement between models that February could be significantly milder than average.

Rainfall indications for the Winter season are rather mixed with a similar number of models showing below or above average values. There is a signal that December could be drier than average, January roughly 30% chance of wetter and 40% chance of near normal and February has a 60% chance of being wetter and possibly much wetter than average. The total number of days with measurable rain could end of below average though this is very uncertain.

Below average snowfall seems likely – snow most likely confined to higher 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  (2021 March April May) limited data.

Milder than average temperatures seem likely for the season although March and April could see values closer to normal and May could be significantly milder than average.

Rainfall near or a little below average for the season although March could be wetter than average. The driest month varies between April in May is some of the models.

Possible a little snowfall on the moors in March.

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.

Early indication for Summer 2021  (June July August)  very limited data from China, Japan and Canada

Temperature and rainfall for the season near average but perhaps drier than average in August.

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.

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. 20146(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

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