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

Published 18 December 2020.

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1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature

Apart from a semi permanent cooler area, centred near 55 North 30 West, Atlantic sea temperatures are mostly warmer than climatology as as are sea temperatures 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 was the most active and the seventh costliest Atlantic hurricane season on record. In addition, it was the fifth consecutive above average Atlantic hurricane season from 2016 onward. The season featured a total of 31 (sub)tropical cyclones, all but one of which became a named storm. Of the 30 named storms, 13 developed into hurricanes, and six further intensified into major hurricanes, with one, Hurricane Iota, attaining Category 5 strength on the Saffir–Simpson scale.[nb 1] It was the second season to use the Greek letter storm naming system, the first being 2005. Of the 30 named storms, 12 made landfall in the contiguous United States, breaking the record of nine set in 1916. The season was also the fifth consecutive season in which at least one Category 5 hurricane formed. During the season, 27 tropical storms established a new record for the earliest formation by storm number. This season also featured a record 10 tropical cyclones that underwent rapid intensification, tying it with 1995.[2] This unprecedented activity was fueled by a La Niña that developed in the summer months of 2020.”

Wikipedia track map 2020

Colder sea temperatures in the East Pacific, just south of the equator, show the La Nina is well established and forecasts suggest that 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 turned slightly negative early in December.

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 colder, less windy and drier winters.

For Met Office information about the NAO see

The more blocked patterns during a negative phase can produce cyclonic or anticyclonic patterns over the UK depending on were such features become slow moving. There is a chance that higher pressure will become established across the SW of England over the Xmas period and possibly last into the New Year but this is rather uncertain.

Recent Climatology –  SW England

December to the 17th has been very slightly milder than the 1981 to 2010 average and has been slightly wetter in the east but much wetter in Cornwall and West Devon. Sunshine has been slightly below average so far in December.

Autumn temperatures have been near or a little warmer than average and rainfall was slightly below average for the season.

River flows and ground water levels in November 2020 were near normal across SW England. Details can be found in the Novembver 2020 Hydrological summary PDF 

The reservoir levels in the SW of England were about normal of December 13th 2020.

Global Flood Awareness (updated) System. December forecast for the period December to March (shown below) indicates slightly above normal flood risk for SW England with typical river flood values as seen every two to five years (see lower section of graphic).

Atmosphere: Predictions.

A:  1: Stratosphere

Data from December 15th shows polar vortex established at 50 and 30hPa but with some warming occurring leading to a more complex stratospheric pattern and probably a relocation of the polar vortex to just north of Norway in a week or two. This may start to impact the weather patterns nearer the surface in January. It is possible that this could be the start of a significant stratospheric warming which could result in a colder January/February though this is too early to tell.

The temperature trace below indicates that temperature in the stratospheric polar region is cold enough for Polar Stratospheric Cloud formation which is implicated in Ozone depletion. 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 Jan Feb and March 2021 hint at a more cyclonic January and possibly February across the UK area possibly suggesting low centres could be steered further north than normal in the the remaining Winter months.

B: Lower Troposphere:

A selection of  January to March solutions using December 2020 data are shown below, top row temperature anomaly and lower row precipitation anomaly. 

NMME JFM tends to be overly warm
CFS2 E3 data JFM tends to be overly warm

WMO data. Three month average then separate months. Low resolution data.

WMO super ensemble JFM 12 members
Beijing JFM
BoM Australia JFM
Brazil JFM
Germany JFM
Canada JFM
Russia JFM
S Korea JFM
Japan JFM
France JFM

SPRING (March April May) 2021

WMO super ensemble MAM

C: Comparing the output of seasonal models for September October November based on August  2020 data for the UK and Ireland.

For graphics and details see Verification review 2020 Sep Oct Nov

Review of details looked for in seasonal forecast.
Temperature. Looking for the West to be near normal and the East above normal also for a milder November in monthly detail.

Rainfall. Mixed three month pattern with above normal in NW and SE but areas below normal SW England Wales N Midlands NE England and far N Scotland. Looking for October signal to be wetter and other months drier.

Good temperature forecast but perhaps not the stronger anomalies in November. Rainfall fair in that overall values above normal but failed to get any detail. Pressure reasonable signal.

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 fair – a little cool but reasonable sequence. PPN fair .
2. USA – CFS2 : Temp fair . PPN poor .
3. UKMO Contingency: Temp fair but overly warm . PPN fair .
4. UKMO : Temp good . PPN poor . PMSL good
5. USA – IRI : Temp no signal. PPN no signal .
6. KMA APCC : Temp fair . PPN no signal.
7. JMA : Temp good sequence but a little cool. PPN fair . PMSL good
8. NMME : Temp fair too warm. PPN good .
9. WMO : Temp fair. PPN poor .
10. BCC : Temp fair. PPN poor .
11. NASA – Temp good – got the milder November. PPN poor – almost reverse of actual .
12. Brazil: Temp Poor way to cold. PPN fair .
13. CanSips : Temp poor . PPN very good .
14. IMME : Temp fair . PPN fair.
15. Copernicus Temp fair. PPN fair. PMSL good
16. CMCC Temp fair . PPN poor . PMSL fair
17: DWD Temp good. PPN fair . PMSL fair
18. EC Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
19 UKMO Temp good . PPN fair. PMSL good
20. MF Temp poor . PPN poor . PMSL fair
21 NCEP Temp fair . PPN good . PMSL good
22. JAMSTEC: Temp good . PPN fair .
23 ECMWF (monthly) Temp: fair. PPN poor . PMSL

2. Forecast. SW England.

Remainder of Winter ( January and February 2021).

January temperatures are likely to be near normal; and there is a chance of below normal values for a period but by February milder than average values are more likely.

Rainfall indications are rather mixed but there is a reasonably strong indication for above average rainfall in January which could also mean above average snowfall, chiefly over the hills and moors. In February near normal rainfall is likely but perhaps above normal in western areas and below to the east of the moors with below average snowfall.

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)

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

Rainfall uncertain but probably near or a little below average for the season. There is however a risk that March and / or May could be wetter than average.

Possibly 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)  limited data (data from six global systems)

Temperature slightly above average for the season. Rainfall for the season near average but drier than average in June and July followed by a wetter than average 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

By Master0Garfield – Created using WikiProject Tropical cyclones/Tracks. The background image is from NASA [1]. The tracking data is from the National Hurricane Center’s Atlantic hurricane database, Public Domain,

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