So what happened to our summer?

28 08 2015

Our Chief Scientist Professor Dame Julia Slingo OBE FRS reflects on this summer’s weather and what has influenced it:

No-one can deny that we have had a pretty disappointing summer with a lot of unsettled weather and only a few warm spells, especially through July and August. Our weather has been dominated by low pressure over and to the west of the country that has brought us periods of heavy rain from the south – what we call the Spanish Plume. So what has been happening?

If we look beyond our shores there have been some big changes in the global climate this year. El Niño is in full flight, disturbing weather patterns around the world. The low pressure that has dominated our weather is part of a pattern of waves in the jet stream around the world that has brought crippling heat waves to places like Poland and Japan. And, looking back over past El Niños, you could have expected that a more unsettled summer might be on the cards for the UK. Closer to home the North Atlantic is more than 2 degrees colder than normal. It seems quite likely that the unusually cold North Atlantic has strengthened and pushed our jet stream south, also contributing to the low pressure systems that have dominated our weather.

So could all this have been anticipated? Seasonal forecasts for this summer suggested that temperatures and rainfall would be near normal. However, as the season progressed all the leading models around the world failed to capture the signal for unsettled weather over the UK. We all know that forecasting months and seasons ahead is still in its infancy and much more research needs to be done. On the other hand our day-to-day forecasts have been really successful in allowing us to warn of bad weather, highlighting yet again the benefits of our research that has delivered year-on-year and decade-by-decade improvements in forecasting skill. Our 5-day forecast is now as accurate as our 1-day forecast was when I started my career. This enables us to make so many decisions that keep us safe, protect our property, keep our infrastructure running and even when to go out and enjoy the sunshine!

All of this cannot happen without improvements to research and technology, and this week the first phase of our new supercomputer went live, five weeks ahead of schedule. This will enable us to provide even more accurate and relevant weather and climate forecasts to all of us, our government, emergency responders, and our many other customers at home and abroad.

The news that the BBC has decided that the Met Office won’t be their main weather provider when the current contract ends has raised the question of where will the new provider get their information from. It’s important to understand that no weather forecasting organization, whether it is a National Met Service like the Met Office or an independent company, can provide a service without a forecast, and that it is the leading meteorological agencies, like the Met Office, that build and deliver those forecasts. So whoever the BBC chooses to deliver their weather services in future, you can be sure that Met Office observations and forecasts will continue to be at the heart of them. We are committed to driving forward the skill and usefulness of our forecasts and ensuring that all of us benefit from the advances the Met Office makes in the coming years with our new supercomputer.





Highest temperatures and rainfall over the weekend

23 08 2015

Over the past 24 hours the weather has delivered a mixture of hot sunshine, thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain as we highlighted earlier in the week.

As expected, sunny skies and warm air being pushed northwards from the continent allowed temperatures to climb across central and eastern parts of the UK, reaching maximums in the high 20s and low 30s on Saturday with a humid feel:

Table showing Maximum temperatures for Saturday 22 August 2015

Location Maximum Temperature in C
Gravesend 30.9
Kew Gardens 30.9
Heathrow 30.7
St James’s Park 30.7
Northolt 30.6

These high temperatures set off two areas of thunderstorms, one over central southern England and another over the Midlands, moving into northern England. These storms caused localised surface water flooding and flooding of some properties in North Yorkshire as up to 30mm of rain fell in an hour. There were also impacts to the York-Leeds rail line.

Across the northwest of the UK it was fresher and mainly dry with some sunshine, while the areas in between were rather cloudy with some rain.

Overnight, the heavy, thundery downpours continued to move northwards, while heavy rain also spread into western parts of the UK. By this morning at 10am the rainfall totals for the 24 hours were as follows:

Table showing rainfall totals for the 24 hours up until 10am on Sunday 23 August 2015

Location Rainfall in mm
Bramham 62.6
Ryhill 54.6
Tredegar 40.6
Linton-on-Ouse 39.8
Scolton Country Park 36.8

During today, the heavy rain has continued to spread north and eastwards with a mixture of sunny spells and heavy showers following across the south. Ahead of this, temperatures across eastern England have again peaked in the mid to high 20s.

Table showing rainfall totals bwtween 10am and 4pm on Sunday 23 August 2015

Location Rainfall in mm
Hereford 20.8
Llanbrynmair 20.4
Sarn 17.8
Lake Vyrnwy 17.2
Porthmadog 17.2

The changeable weather will continue as we head into next week. Met Office National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued and everyone is encouraged to keep up to date with forecasts and warnings over the next few days and to make plans accordingly.





A wet getaway

24 07 2015

As many of us plan to head off on holiday, heavy rain and strengthening winds cross southern England today (Friday), persisting overnight in the east, before clearing on Saturday morning.

A Yellow warning has been issued for southeast England and East Anglia, valid from Friday afternoon to 11am Saturday because of the potential impacts the heavy rain and wind could have.

 

Weather warning 24.07.15

As an area of low pressure is crossing northeastwards across the UK today (Friday), close to southern England, it deepens into quite an intense feature for this time of year and is expected to bring disruptive rain and wind, particularly within the warning area.

More than 30 mm of rain is expected quite widely, but there is a chance some isolated locations could well see more than 70 mm of rain. Wind gusts are also expected to be strong across the warning area, with northerly winds gusting to 45 mph inland and around 55 mph along coasts. This combination of factors could bring the risk of disruption to outdoor activities and heavy holiday traffic.
Highways England has launched a website especially for drivers heading to the South West of England to help plan their journey.





One year on – A look back to last winter

17 02 2015

This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the Valentine’s Day storm, which also marked the end of a particularly stormy three-month period. A new review article – ‘From months to minutes – exploring the value of high-resolution rainfall observation and prediction during the UK winter storms of 2013/2014’ – written by 16 Met Office co-authors reviews the accuracy of our forecasting and warning of severe weather during winter 2013-14, and assesses its performance.

The paper concludes that the “prolonged period of high impact weather experienced in the United Kingdom during the winter of 2013/14 was very well forecast by the operational tools available across space and time scales.”

Here Huw Lewis, the paper’s lead author, and Derrick Ryall, Head of the Public Weather Service, look at the extreme weather last year and the role of the Met Office in communicating severe weather through the National Severe Weather Warning Service.

Analysis chart 1200 GMT 26 January 2014

Analysis chart 1200 GMT 26 January 2014

Winter 2013/2014 in the United Kingdom was remarkable. The country was battered by at least 12 major winter storms over a three month period and was officially assessed as the stormiest period that the United Kingdom has experienced for at least 20 years.

The series of storms resulted in the wettest winter in almost 250 years (according to the England and Wales precipitation series from 1766), significantly wetter than the previous wettest winter in 1914/1915.

Snapshot of UK rain radar surface rainfall rate for 2200 GMT on 23 December 2013

Snapshot of UK rain radar surface rainfall rate for 2200 GMT on 23 December 2013

The extreme weather caused widespread flooding throughout Southern England and coastal damage – most notably in the South West and Norfolk coasts. The impact of the severe winter storms on individuals, businesses and the government were substantial, including several fatalities, widespread power cuts and damaged infrastructure.

Recent advances in forecasting, technology and the scientific developments in meteorology have been considerable. These developments and improvements in accuracy mean that a four-day weather forecast is as accurate as a one-day forecast was just thirty years ago. During the course of last winter, the Met Office was able to use these forecasts to warn of any severe weather well in advance. In the case of the St Jude’s Day storm at the end of October 2013 warnings went out to the Government and the public five days before the storm even existed.

rainfall

As the accuracy of weather forecasts has evolved, so has the communication of the potential impacts of severe weather. The National Severe Weather Warning Service enables more ‘weather decisions’ which in turn help to minimise the consequences of severe weather. The Met Office was at the heart of the government response to the storms, providing advice on weather impacts through the National Severe Weather Warning Service and Civil Contingency Advisors. The Met Office also worked very closely with both the national and regional media, who in turn played a key role in ensuring that the public were fully informed about the potential impacts of any up-coming weather.

In addition to the Public Weather Service, commercial partners and customers were also provided with detailed updates throughout the period in order for them to plan effectively for logistical issues. Together, these advanced warnings helped authorities, businesses and individuals to be better prepared to take mitigating actions.

Driving further improvements in accuracy and therefore reducing the lead time and increasing the detail of severe weather warnings is one of the Met Office’s key priorities . The ultimate aim is to improve the potential for users to plan preventative measures for severe weather events much further ahead. Underpinning all of these developments is a continuing programme of scientific research and access to enhanced supercomputing over the next few years.





Strongest winds overnight 14 – 15 January 2015

15 01 2015

As expected, a powerful low pressure system affected the UK yesterday evening and overnight bringing gales and heavy rain to many areas.

The low pressure system will continue to affect the UK today, bringing sunny spells and blustery, heavy showers with the chance of thunderstorms and snow over high ground. Severe gales are again expected around western and northwestern coasts, with the strongest winds likely over Northern Ireland and southwest Scotland, extending to northern Scotland later. You can see detail on this on our forecast and warnings pages.

Below are some of the strongest gust speeds recorded at Met Office observing sites between 7pm yesterday and 7am today.

Strongest gusts 7 pm 14 January 2015 – 7 am 15 January 2015
Date / time Site Max Gusts (mph)
15/01/2015 00:00 CAPEL CURIG GWYNEDD 96
15/01/2015 03:00 WIGHT: NEEDLES OLD BATTERY ISLE OF WIGHT 93
15/01/2015 00:00 ABERDARON GWYNEDD 83
14/01/2015 23:00 MUMBLES HEAD WEST GLAMORGAN 81
15/01/2015 02:00 BERRY HEAD DEVON 77
15/01/2015 02:00 AVONMOUTH AVON 76
15/01/2015 03:00 ISLE OF PORTLAND DORSET 75
14/01/2015 23:00 CULDROSE CORNWALL 73
15/01/2015 04:00 TIREE ARGYLL 73
15/01/2015 01:00 LOFTUS CLEVELAND 70
15/01/2015 01:00 PLYMOUTH, MOUNTBATTEN DEVON 70
14/01/2015 23:00 SCILLY: ST MARYS AIRPORT ISLES OF SCILLY 70
15/01/2015 04:00 SOLENT HAMPSHIRE 69
15/01/2015 01:00 LAKE VYRNWY POWYS 69
14/01/2015 23:00 NORTH WYKE DEVON 68
14/01/2015 23:00 SENNYBRIDGE POWYS 68
15/01/2015 06:00 ISLAY: PORT ELLEN ARGYLL 68
15/01/2015 00:00 PEMBREY SANDS DYFED 68
14/01/2015 21:00 DRUMALBIN LANARKSHIRE 67
15/01/2015 07:00 EDINBURGH, BLACKFORD HILL MIDLOTHIAN 67

Below are some of the highest rainfall totals recorded at Met Office observing sites between 7pm yesterday and 7am today.

Highest rainfall 7pm 14 January to 7am 15 January 2015
Site Rain (mm)
ACHNAGART ROSS & CROMARTY 40.8
TYNDRUM PERTHSHIRE 39.0
TREDEGAR, BRYN BACH PARK GWENT 35.8
KESWICK CUMBRIA 35.0
THREAVE KIRKCUDBRIGHTSHIRE 31.8
LIBANUS POWYS 31.8
SHAP CUMBRIA 31.6
ESKDALEMUIR DUMFRIESSHIRE 28.2
SKYE: LUSA WESTERN ISLES 27.8
USK MONMOUTHSHIRE 27.4
OKEHAMPTON, EAST OKEMENT FARM DEVON 27.1
STRATHALLAN AIRFIELD PERTHSHIRE 25.6
GOUDHURST KENT 25.4
BLENCATHRA CUMBRIA 25.2
TULLOCH BRIDGE INVERNESS-SHIRE 24.2
WHITECHURCH DYFED 24.0
NORTH WYKE DEVON 23.6
CAPEL CURIG GWYNEDD 23.4
MIDDLE WALLOP HAMPSHIRE 23.4
CAMBORNE CORNWALL 23.0

You can share the weather you have experienced through the ‘Weather Impacts’ section of WOW

The stormy weather we have seen over the last couple of weeks is now coming to an end and conditions over the weekend and into next week look calmer but colder with frosts at night and wintry mix of showers.





Dual Warnings

12 11 2014

Today for the first time we have issued a new dual National Severe Weather Warning for wind and rain.

What is a Dual Warning?

A dual warning is one warning, covering one geographical area, over one period of time in the way a single warning does – but it combines two different types of severe weather. They would only be combined if they were both at the same warning level.

Any of the five types of weather warnings, Wind, Rain, Snow, Ice and Fog, can form a dual warning in any combination. So in theory Wind and Snow could be a dual warning. In practice there are certain weather types that are more likely to form a dual warning; the most likely is Wind and Rain, which is what we see today.  More information on our dual warnings can be found at the bottom of our Weather Warning page.

These new dual warnings have been developed following extensive two-way conversations with emergency responders and feedback we have recieved from the public over the past twelve months.

Until now, we would have issued multiple severe weather warnings to cover the range of warnings in place. Quite often however, situations arise where multiple impacts occur and these can now be shown on one map. This should make the information we issue easier to access.

Today’s Warning

Dual wind and rain warning

Dual wind and rain warning

The warning for wind and rain issued today covers Southwest England, Western Scotland and the Irish Sea between 07.00 and 23.45 on Thursday 13 November. A small area of low pressure will move quickly northwards throughout the day bringing a short-lived period of gales and severe gales and spells of heavy rain.

We encourage everyone to keep up to date with the latest forecasts and national severe weather warnings and to stay weather aware this winter by following the Met Office on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube for the latest weather information. You can also sign up for severe weather alerts from us through the Twitter Alerts programme, providing critical information directly to your phone. Find out more about how to sign up for Met Office Twitter alerts.





Sunday’s rain and wind data

10 08 2014

Heavy rain has continued to move north and east across the UK today. Here is a selection of the highest rainfall totals and strongest wind gusts from Met Office stations around the UK :

6hr UK RAINFALL   10 AUG 10am to 4pm
SITE NAME AREA Rainfall (MM)
LOGAN BOTANIC GARDEN WIGTOWNSHIRE 57.4
NORMANBY HALL HUMBERSIDE 38.4
HULL, EAST PARK HUMBERSIDE 30.0
LECONFIELD HUMBERSIDE 29.4
GRINGLEY-ON-THE-HILL NOTTINGHAMSHIRE 29.2
SCARBOROUGH NORTH YORKSHIRE 28.2
SUTTON BONINGTON NOTTINGHAMSHIRE 28.0
CONINGSBY LINCOLNSHIRE 25.6
SCAMPTON LINCOLNSHIRE 25.2
BRIDLINGTON MRSC HUMBERSIDE 24.6
HIGH BEACH ESSEX 24.4
HIGH MOWTHORPE NORTH YORKSHIRE 23.0
FYLINGDALES NORTH YORKSHIRE 22.4
BRAMHAM WEST YORKSHIRE 19.8
PEMBREY SANDS DYFED 19.6
WEST FREUGH WIGTOWNSHIRE 19.6
NORWICH AIRPORT NORFOLK 18.6
DISHFORTH AIRFIELD NORTH YORKSHIRE 18.4
KATESBRIDGE DOWN 18.2
HAMPSTEAD GREATER LONDON 18.2

 

DATE / TIME SITE NAME AREA MAX GUST (MPH)
10/08/2014 midday WIGHT: NEEDLES OLD BATTERY ISLE OF WIGHT 64
10/08/2014 4pm CAPEL CURIG GWYNEDD 56
10/08/2014 1pm ISLE OF PORTLAND DORSET 55
10/08/2014 1pm BERRY HEAD DEVON 54
10/08/2014 2pm WIGHT: ST CATHERINES POINT ISLE OF WIGHT 54
10/08/2014 3pm BRIDLINGTON MRSC HUMBERSIDE 53
10/08/2014 3am BALTASOUND SHETLAND 52
10/08/2014 midday DONNA NOOK LINCOLNSHIRE 52
10/08/2014 2pm LANGDON BAY KENT 52
10/08/2014 8am SCILLY: ST MARYS AIRPORT ISLES OF SCILLY 51
10/08/2014 3pm HOLBEACH LINCOLNSHIRE 49
10/08/2014 9am CULDROSE CORNWALL 48
10/08/2014 2am SELLA NESS SHETLAND 48
10/08/2014 2pm SOLENT HAMPSHIRE 47
10/08/2014 3pm SHOREHAM AIRPORT WEST SUSSEX 46
10/08/2014 2pm ODIHAM HAMPSHIRE 46
10/08/2014 4pm MUMBLES HEAD WEST GLAMORGAN 46
10/08/2014 4pm CROSBY MERSEYSIDE 45
10/08/2014 midday NORTH WYKE DEVON 45
10/08/2014 2pm HURN DORSET 45

 

 





Rain totals for 19th July 2014

20 07 2014

As forecast there were severe thunderstorms across the UK on the 19th July bringing heavy rain and gusty winds. See the tables below for the largest rain totals across the UK.  Gloucestershire recorded the highest rainfall with 66mm between 6am and 6pm yesterday, the counties monthly average rainfall is 60.6mm.

The Heat-health watch put in place in parts of southern and eastern England in conjunction with Public Health England has now been downgraded. Temperatures in parts of the area covered topped 28C during 19 July, see table below.

Today, 20 July, temperatures are expected to reach low to mid 20’s across central, south and south east of England, with London seeing around 27C.  Northern England will reach mid to high teens and Scotland and Northern Ireland mid to low teens.

More thundery downpours are expected to develop today over some eastern and central parts of the UK.  A yellow, be aware, weather warning for rain is in place for the areas likely to be affected. Not everywhere will see a storm but where they do occur, torrential downpours are possible with lightning, hail and strong gusts of wind. The areas most likely to be affected are across eastern and southeastern England.

Many places will have a good deal of fine and very warm weather this working week although there is the risk of some heavy showers in parts of the south and west later in the week.

 

UK MAX TEMPERATURE 19 JULY 2014
TIME SITE NAME AREA MAX TEMP (Celsius)
16:22 London St Jamess Park GREATER LONDON 28.5
15:13 Northolt GREATER LONDON 28.4
15:22 Heathrow GREATER LONDON 28.3
15:59 Santon Downham SUFFOLK 28.3
13:29 Gravesend, Broadness KENT 28.1
16:51 Cambridge NIAB CAMBRIDGESHIRE 27.7
15:49 Marham NORFOLK 27.7
13:55 Hampton W Wks GREATER LONDON 27.6
16:52 Writtle ESSEX 27.6
14:51 Frittenden KENT 27.5

 

 

12hr UK RAINFALL 19 JULY
SITE NAME AREA PRECIP. (MM)
WESTONBIRT GLOUCESTERSHIRE 66.0
PERSHORE COLLEGE HEREFORD & WORCESTER 36.4
PERSHORE HEREFORD & WORCESTER 30.8
NEWPORT (SALOP) SHROPSHIRE 29.4
KEELE STAFFORDSHIRE 28.2
ASTWOOD BANK HEREFORD & WORCESTER 27.6
NOTTINGHAM, WATNALL NOTTINGHAMSHIRE 26.0
LIBANUS POWYS 25.8
NANTWICH, REASEHEATH HALL CHESHIRE 22.6
MARKET BOSWORTH, BOSWORTH PARK LEICESTERSHIRE 22.6




Cold snap expected

3 12 2013

The UK is going to see a very short, sharp, cold snap.  From Wednesday night (4th Dec) into Thursday morning (5th Dec) Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland will see some strong winds, while Scotland will see some wintry showers and snow.  However temperatures will return to normal as we head through the weekend, and be more in line with what should be expected for December.

A rapidly deepening Atlantic depression is expected to move in an easterly direction to the north of Scotland bringing westerly gales, with gusts of 60 to 70 mph extending southwards across northern and some central parts of the UK on Wednesday night and Thursday.  Northern Scotland could see gusts of 80mph, and potentially 90mph for a time.

Because of this the Met Office has issued a Yellow Severe Weather Warning for strong winds. The public should be aware of possible disruption to travel, especially across Scotland, parts of Northern Ireland and Northern England.

The winds are expected to veer northerly and bring the colder arctic air southwards across northern areas before easing into Friday. The winds could exacerbate high tides and may increase the risk of coastal flooding in the Northern and Western Isles and along the East Coast of England.

A Yellow warning for snow is also in place. It runs from 6am Thursday to 12 noon on Friday, covering the northern half of Scotland, snow showers are expected to be most frequent across the Northern Isles, the North Highlands and northern Aberdeenshire.  Low laying areas could see 2 – 5cms of snow and higher altitudes 10 – 20cms. In addition the strong winds could lead to some drifting of snow and possibly blizzard conditions on higher ground.  Icy conditions may also develop on some roads across Scotland on Thursday night and Friday morning.

This winter storm is not expected to be as powerful as those in January 2012 and December 2011

This is expected to be a short-lived cold snap, with temperatures quickly recovering to near normal over the weekend.

Our video explains what to do during a Yellow warning for wind. You can also download a weather warnings widget for your website.





The severe storm this weekend and why it’s not a hurricane

26 10 2013

There is much coverage of the storm heading our way later this weekend with mentions of it being a ‘hurricane’. This is not strictly correct as we don’t get hurricanes in the UK and this is why.

Hurricanes are warm latitude storms; they draw their energy from warm seas and can only begin to form where the ocean is warmer than 26 degrees Celsius or so, and can really only become a major storm when the sea is warmer than 28 degrees Celsius. That’s like a warm bath, so you won’t find one around the UK anytime soon!

Other limitations, like wind patterns in the upper atmosphere and the forces caused by the Earth’s rotation, mean hurricanes are normally found in an area between 8 and 20 degrees north of the equator.

You can find a full explanation of what hurricanes are and how they form on our What are hurricanes? video

The storm which is due to develop tomorrow night and affect the UK during Monday is a mid latitude storm, the sort which affect us through the autumn and winter. These are formed in a very different way – by the meeting of different air masses on what is known as the polar front, leading to low pressure (storms) forming, often around the latitude of the UK.

The storm which is due tomorrow is expected to bring very strong winds and heavy rain, and we are warning of winds gusting 60-80 mph quite widely and locally over 80 mph, especially on exposed coasts, both in the southwesterly winds ahead of the low centre and west to northwesterly winds behind it.

Winds of that strength are classified on the Beaufort scale as ‘hurricane force 12’ but that is not the same as being a hurricane. Winds of this strength could bring down trees or cause structural damage, potentially causing transport disruption or power cuts and we are working closely with the resilience community to ensure they are prepared for the expected conditions.

You can find practical advice about what to do in winter weather on our Get Ready for Winter website.








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