Review and Experimental Long Range Forecast for SW England. January 2021.

Published 19 January 2021.

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1. Influences.

Changes in sea temperature

Atlantic sea temperatures are mostly warmer than climatology apart from slightly cooler than average values to the SW of the UK and Ireland. North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea temperatures also remain above climatology. The tropical North Atlantic is forecast to remain slightly warmer than average through to at least Summer 2021 (See Met Office graphic below).

Colder sea temperatures in the East Pacific, just south of the equator, show a well established La Nina and forecasts continue to suggest that the La Nina will remain active until at least Spring 2021 possibly trending towards neutral conditions for the summer months.

The North Atlantic Oscillation index (500hPa index shown below) turned turned slightly negative early in December 2020 and currently has about a 30% chance of turning positive at the start of February.

The negative NAO phase represents a weaker than usual difference in pressure North to South across the North Atlantic. 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 during persistent El Nino conditions.

The positive NAO phase represents a stronger than usual difference in pressure allowing winds from the west to predominate. The position of the jet stream enables stronger and more frequent storms to travel across the Atlantic bringing more frequent milder and wetter weather types for NW Europe

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 where such features become slow moving.

Recent Climatology –  SW England

The first ten days of January were rather cold with frequent frosts but fairly dry. After the 10th it became less cold but with some rain. To the 19th of January temperature means across SW England are about 1 to 1.5C below the longer term average and rain totals to the 19th January are only about a third of average. Sunshine hours have been close to average. This can be seen in the snapshot for the period 3rd to 9th showing widespread below average temperature and rain/snow

Looking back at the last three months, temperatures have been near or a little above average across SW England and rainfall above average despite the drier November.

Looking back at 2020 for SW England the year was warmer, wetter but also sunnier in places. It very much looks like that when rain occurred it was “heavier”. For example in the Dawlish and Teignmouth area data suggests there were more dry days than average but also more days with 10mm or more of rain.

River flows and ground water levels in December 2020 were well above normal across SW England. Details can be found in the December 2020 Hydrological summary PDF 

The forecast changes in the next month and three months can be viewed at Hydro UK

The reservoir levels in the SW of England were above the normal level as of January 10th 2020.

Global Flood Awareness (updated) System. January forecast for the period January to April (shown left below) indicates slightly above normal flood risk for SW England. The image on the right shows a forecast for river flow based on the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) implying normal to above normal river flows across parts of the SW. For details see Outlook from NAO Analogues (

Atmosphere: Predictions.

A:  1: Stratosphere

Major warming in the stratosphere (see N Pole temperatures below) has caused a reversal of the westerly flow across North America and a significant re-location of the polar stratospheric vortex towards Norther Russia. Although further warming is expected to continue forecasts suggest the vortex may return towards the N Pole and redevelop for a time before perhaps splitting the vortex in two weeks time.

ECMWF 50hPa and 10hPa analysis 17th and forecast for 27th Jan
JMA North pole observed temperature changes at 10hPa and 30hPa

NW Europe NCEP forecast temperature anomaly forecast have been trending to colder values in February and possibly March over recent days and the stratospheric warming may well be part of the reason.

A: 2: Upper Troposphere

CFsv2 200hPa contours (top row) and anomaly (lower row) for Feb to May 2021 hint at a more cyclonic February across the UK the less mobile patterns for March to May.

B: Lower Troposphere:

A selection of  February to May solutions using January 2021 data are shown below, top row temperature anomaly and lower row precipitation anomaly. 

Many models seem to have a problem forecasting colder than average values so the increase in the number of models showing near normal values might imply colder values in February and perhaps early March.


A selection of  WMO sourced March to May solutions using January 2021 data are shown below, top row temperature anomaly and lower row precipitation anomaly. 

WMO super ensemble
Beijing China
BoM Australia

A selection of  June to August solutions using January 2021 data


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

For graphics and details see Verification review 2020 Oct Nov Dec

Review of details looked for in the seasonal forecast.
Temperature. above average for season with November strongest for above normal after normal October. Rainfall. above average for season with November below average except N Ireland and W Scotland. Oct and Dec wet in S and E especially. Pressure. below average for season, November above average but Oct and Dec below.

TABLE below is for 3 month data only. Scoring will state good, fair, poor or no signal for the three month season.

1. Russia: Temp good . PPN mainly no signal Scotland and N Ireland good .
2. USA – CFS2 : Temp fair . PPN fair . (CFS2 monthly E3 suggested drier Nov)
3. UKMO Contingency: Temp fair . PPN no signal .
4. UKMO : Temp good. PPN poor . PMSL poor
5. USA – IRI : Temp no signal . PPN good .
6. KMA APCC : Temp poor . PPN poor .
7. JMA : Temp good – a little cool . PPN poor . PMSL poor (mean direction good)
8. NMME : Temp good. PPN fair .
9. WMO : Temp fair . PPN poor .
10. BCC : Temp fair . PPN poor .
11. NASA – Temp good . PPN poor .
12. Brazil: Temp good . PPN good . PMSL good
13. CanSips : Temp fair . PPN fair .
14. IMME : Temp good. PPN poor .
15. Copernicus Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
16. CMCC Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
17: DWD Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
18. EC Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
19 UKMO Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
20. MF Temp fair. PPN poor . PMSL poor
21 NCEP Temp good. PPN fair . PMSL fair
22 JAMSTEC: no data
23 ECMWF (monthly) Temp: fair . PPN good

Remainder of Winter (February 2021).

February may well start near normal or even slightly milder than average but there is a moderate risk of a change to be colder than average values – overall the month ending up near or slightly below average.. Rainfall is likely be near or above normal to start the month but trending drier, overall near normal totals for the month are possible. Increased risk of snow IF the change to colder types occurs.

Winter Climate: 1981-2010 February average temperature values for lowland areas 6 or7°C in the West and 5 or 6°C in the East. Rainfall; February. lowland areas 80-100mm but 60-80mm in east. Around 200mm over moors. Snow climatology  for December to February less than 5 days lying snow in lowland areas 5 to 10 hills, say hills around 200 metre elevation – one in three years have no lying snow. February possibly around 2 days on average with lying snow for low ground.

Spring  (2021 March April May)

After a colder than average start Spring temperatures are likely to trend above average for May. April could see values close to normal. Overall above average values are likely for the three month season.

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

Possibly some 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 eight global systems)

Temperature slightly above average for the season although Cornwall could be near average. Rainfall for the season uncertain but majority suggest close to average values although some models have wetter/drier than average.

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

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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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