Storm Barney highest wind speeds

18 11 2015

Storm Barney swept across the southern half of the UK as forecast yesterday evening, bringing gusts of up to 85mph, and has now left our shores.

Thousands of homes were left without power in Wales, the Midlands, and in southern and eastern England. Damage caused by wind also caused disruption to rail services, flights and ferry crossings.

The table below shows the highest wind speeds recorded at Met Office observing sites between midday yesterday and 6am today:

UK MAX GUST SPEED 17 NOV 1200 -18 NOV 0600
Aberdaron Gwynedd 95 85
Capel Curig Gwynedd 216 84
High Bradfield South Yorkshire 395 83
Lake Vyrnwy Powys 360 83
Pembrey Sands Dyfed 3 79
Mumbles Head West Glamorgan 43 77
Avonmouth Avon 9 75
Aberporth Dyfed 133 74
Needles, Old Battery Isle of Wight 80 73
Valley Gwynedd 10 73

Storm Barney viewed from space as it crossed the UK:

You can record your observations and report impacts of Storm Barney on Met Office WOW

Warm start to November

16 11 2015

Early provisional figures* (1-15 November) show the first half of November has been very mild with maximum daily temperatures 3.8C above average for the UK

Central England Temperature data set shows the start to the month has been the second warmest since this record began in 1772.

Local temperature records have been broken at various stations with only November 1938 seeing a warmer start to the month.

There has been an absence of frosts in almost all areas, largely because a humid south-westerly airflow means the weather has been cloudy and there have been very few clear nights.


MeanTemp 1-15 November 2015

MeanTemp 1-15 November 2015

The increased cloud means most areas have seen very little in the way of sun, with levels well below normal across southern and central England and also south-west Scotland. At this time in the month we would expect to see 50% of the monthly average however very few places have had as much as this and the UK as a whole has seen just 32% and Wales has seen less than half the sunshine we would expect mid month.   In the case of southern England it has also been remarkably dull, with some stations having only had 10 hours or less of bright sunshine in 15 days.

For many the start of the month has been wet, with the UK as a whole having had 75% of the whole months average rainfall (we would expect to see 50% at this time of the month). Parts of southern & central Scotland, the Lake District, Pennines and Snowdonia are among the areas already well above their whole-month average. However it was not a wet picture across the whole country, north-east Scotland and most of southern & eastern England have had slightly less rain than would be expected by this point in the month.

EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-15 Nov 2015 Act Anom  Act Anom  Act Anom 
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 10.0 3.8 18.1 32 90.5 75
England 11.2 4.3 17.5 27 59.8 68
Wales 10.7 3.9 20.3 36 128.5 79
Scotland 8.0 3.0 18.4 40 132.5 80
N Ireland 9.6 3.1 18.3 34 83.1 74


For the rest of November indications are that after an unsettled week the weather will turn colder with temperatures dropping nearer to the expected average for Novemeber if not a little below.  However milder conditions look likely to return for a time at the end of the month with rain and strong winds for much of the UK.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall & sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

This weekend’s UK rainfall

15 11 2015

Following the heavy rainfall over the weekend, here are the latest rainfall totals:

Site Name Area 48hr Rainfall total 9am Sat to 9am Mon (mm)
Capel Curig Gwynedd 106.0
Lake Vyrnwy Powys 82.0
Keswick Cumbria 81.6
Blencathra Cumbria 72.6
Tyndrum Perthshire 72.4
Shap Cumbria 69.8
Pately Bridge North Yorkshire 69.2
Bala Gwynedd 66.0  

With more unsettled weather on the way this week bringing further rain and strong winds, keep up to date with the latest forecast for your area and see the latest National Severe Weather Warnings.


Heavy rain has fallen widely throughout the night across much of north-west England, with the heaviest being over some of the higher ground in Cumbria.  The Environment Agency had recorded rainfall totals of 178mm in 12 hours by 5 am this morning in Cumbria.

National Severe Weather Warnings, still in place for parts of northern England, southern Scotland and Northern Ireland, are valid until this evening when the rain will start to clear out to the southeast.

Rainfall radar image 10pm 14 November 2015

Rainfall radar image 10pm 14 November 2015

The Environment Agency, Natural Resource Wales (NRW) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are continually monitoring the flood risk as this rainfall makes its way through the river network.

The amber warning issued for parts of North Wales has now been lifted. However a yellow severe weather warning is still in place until 10 pm this evening. Met Office rain gauges recorded 76mm in the 24 hour period up to midday today (Sunday) at Capel Curig in Snowdonia.

Warnings are constantly under review and adjusted should the weather system change or develop and potential impacts vary.

Regions/Country  Rainfall gauge  24hr rainfall total 9am Sat to 9am Sun
Cumbria Keswick 60mm
Cumbria Spadeadam 45.8mm
North Yorkshire Grimwith 65.4mm
West Yorkshire Thornton Moor 70mm
Lancashire Colne 60.2mm
Wales Capel Curig 67.2mm
Northern  Ireland Castlederg 42,6mm
Scotland Threave 48mm

Many parts of northern and central UK will continue to see rain today, some of it heavy, especially within the warning areas.  You are advised to keep up to date with the latest forecast information for your area so you can plan and prepare for the expected weather.

The Environment Agency, NRW and SEPA are still concerned that additional rainfall on to already saturated ground could well still lead to flooding and you are advised to keep up to date with the latest flood warnings and advise.

This weekends heavy rainfall heralds the start of an unsettled week as a series of low pressure systems are expected to move across the country.  The first will arrive late Monday before another brings stronger winds and rain on Tuesday and another system brings rain on Wednesday.  National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued for some of these systems given the now saturated ground over parts of the UK and will be updated in the coming days.  Meanwhile the weather is expected to turn colder for many by the end of the week.

Wet weekend for parts of the UK

12 11 2015

Heavy rain is expected across parts of north Wales, northwest England and southwest Scotland on Saturday into Sunday, clearing to the southeast on Monday.  We have issued a yellow weather warning for rain for these areas, while the Environment Agency, Natural Resource Wales (NRW) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are assessing the potential flood risk.

A slow moving frontal system is bringing moist tropical air across the UK from the west resulting in some heavy and persistent rain, especially over exposed hills.  Parts of the warning area could see 70-100 mm of rain, with some of the more exposed parts of north Wales and northwest England possibly seeing as much as 150-200 mm through the period.

Pressure Chart 15th November 2015

Pressure Chart 15th November 2015

The Environment Agency is concerned that this amount of additional rainfall falling on to already saturated ground could well lead to flooding, either from standing water, or from rivers bursting their banks. Flood warnings have been issued for parts of northern England.

NRW are planning to put flood risk management procedures in place if required and will issue Flood Alerts and Warnings if rivers reach trigger levels. The warnings are updated on the NRW website every 15 minutes.

The warnings will be kept under review and adjusted should the weather system change or develop and potential impacts vary.

Spooky heat for Halloween weekend?

28 10 2015

Last Halloween saw record breaking temperatures across parts of the United Kingdom, with both Kew Garden’s, London and Gravesend, Kent reaching a maximum temperature of 23.6C.

What can trick or treaters expect this year on Halloween?

The weather’s currently in an unsettled mood, with a mild south or southwesterly flow dominating the weather pattern. Most areas will escape night frosts for the rest of the week, and yesterday (Tuesday) parts of London reached almost 20 degrees during the afternoon. Although the next couple of days are likely to bring rain to all areas, the worst of the unsettled weather should stay in northern and western parts of the UK as we head into the last day of October.

Pressure chart for midday on Saturday 31 October 2015

Pressure chart for midday on Saturday 31 October 2015

Pressure will rise across the south allowing more settled conditions to take hold towards the south and east. The generally mild theme looks likely to continue with warm air spreading northwards from the continent. As a result there is a possibility that parts of southeast England could see maximum temperatures in the high teens, perhaps touching 20 Celsius. The extent and degree of warmth will be affected by how much cloud cover there is which is difficult to forecst accurately 3 days ahead, however therer will be some decent bright or sunny spells. You can keep up to date with the most recent forecast on our 5 day forecast pages.

Sunday sees the start of a new month and it’s looking likely that we will see similar weather to Saturday with many places staying dry with bright or sunny spells after early mist or fog clears. The warm air may hang on across the south where, if sunshine allows, it could turn very warm with temperatures getting close to the UK temperature record for November of  21.7C (reached at Prestatyn, North Wales on 4 November 1946). Record breaking or not, this weekend provides plenty of opportunities to get out and shake off those cobwebs.

Warm, dry, sunny start to October

16 10 2015

The first half of October has been dominated by high pressure, giving a warm, dry, sunny start to October across the UK.

The month started with some weather fronts crossing the UK bringing rain in places. However the mid month statistics* (1 -14th October 2015) show that from the 5th onwards a high pressure system has dominated our weather bringing dry, settled conditions for most of us.

However, because of the position high pressure, we have seen relatively cool air coming in from the north-east. This has resulted in plenty of pleasant, sunny days, particularly in western areas, but with temperatures dropping away at night and a few frosts in places (coldest in this period -3.7 °C at Altnaharra on 13th).  Sunshine hours and maximum temperatures so far this month have been above average, but many places have seen night time temperatures below what we would expect, meaning the overall mean temperatures so far are above average for the whole of October.

MeanTemp Oct 1-14 2015

Rainfall has been well below normal in western areas, although closer to what would be expected by this point in the month in some eastern parts of the UK.  As a whole the UK has seen just 20% of the expected monthly rainfall so far, well short of the 50% we would expect to see by mid month.

1-14 Oct 2015 mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 10.3 0.8 57.1 62 25.5 20
England 11 0.6 60.7 59 25.2 27
Wales 10.4 0.5 60.2 65 24.8 15
Scotland   9.1 1.2 49.7 66 28.5 16
N Ireland 10.3 0.9 61.4 70 12.1 10

Of course, while these figures are interesting, they don’t tell us where the month will end up overall. Latest forecasts show that the settled weather is expected to continue for many over the next few days, before conditions become generally more unsettled across the UK with outbreaks of rain and stronger winds, interspersed with drier, brighter periods as we head towards the end of the month.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

Hurricane Joaquin lashes the Bahamas but will it hit the USA?

1 10 2015

In recent months attention has focused on the very active tropical cyclone season in the Pacific Ocean brought about primarily by the strong El Niño which has developed this year. Meanwhile, the Atlantic has been very quiet with most tropical storms remaining fairly weak and only two reaching hurricane strength until now.

However, Joaquin has become the third hurricane of the Atlantic season and the second to achieve ‘major’ status – category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Joaquin is currently lashing the Bahamas with winds in excess of 100 mph near the centre of the hurricane. A storm surge of over two metres is possible and rainfall totals could be as high as 500 mm. Once the hurricane starts moving away from the islands the big question is whether it will make landfall over the US east coast.

Hurricane Joaquin at 1237 UTC on 01 October 2015 Image courtesy of the US Naval Research Laboratory [local copy at http://www-nwp/~frjh/tropicalcyclone/images/nhem15/joaquin_20151001_1237z.png]

Hurricane Joaquin at 1237 UTC on 01 October 2015
Image courtesy of the US Naval Research Laboratory

The forecasting conundrum

Joaquin is currently slow moving near the Bahamas and all computer models agree that a gradual turn north will happen in about two days time. However, beyond this point there is great uncertainty as to what will happen. Joaquin is being pulled in two directions. A developing trough of low pressure over the USA would act to pull Joaquin westwards towards the US coast. However, an area of low pressure to the east – including the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida – would act to pull Joaquin east away from the USA. The situation is finely balanced and any of several outcomes could happen.

One scenario is that Joaquin could make a turn north-westwards and make landfall near the Outer Banks of North Carolina at the weekend. Computer models are now mostly moving away from this as a likely outcome. Alternatively, Joaquin could take a mostly northwards track and reach New York and New England by early next week then continue up the eastern seaboard of Canada. Finally, a third scenario allows for the possibility that Joaquin could turn north-eastwards and avoid a US landfall altogether. We recommend that a close watch is kept on guidance issued by the National Hurricane Center in coming days for updates on which scenario is the most likely to occur.

Irrespective of whether or where Hurricane Joaquin makes landfall on the US east coast, large amounts of rain are expected in this area in the coming few days due to a slow-moving frontal zone. The impact of this will be exacerbated if Hurricane Joaquin does take a turn towards the USA in the next few days with further heavy rain accompanied by strong winds and a storm surge.

 Latest forecast track of Hurricane Joaquin from the National Hurricane Center

Latest forecast track of Hurricane Joaquin from the National Hurricane Center

Recent history of US landfalling hurricanes

Hurricane strikes on the USA have been fairly infrequent in recent years – particularly those at the stronger end of the scale. In 2014 Arthur crossed the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a category 2 hurricane. Going back to 2012, Isaac came ashore over Louisiana as a minimal category 1 hurricane. In 2011 Irene made landfall on the east coast of the USA also as a category 1 hurricane. The USA avoided hurricane strikes altogether in 2010 and 2009, but in 2008 three made landfall, the most significant of which was Hurricane Ike which caused a huge storm surge as it came ashore over Texas as a category 2 hurricane. However, you have to go back to 2005 to find the last ‘major’ hurricane strike on the USA (category 3 or above), when Hurricane Wilma hit Florida.

Hurricane Sandy (sometimes referred to as ‘Superstorm Sandy’) also caused much devastation to parts of the USA east coast in 2012. It is ranked as the second most costly hurricane in US history, although technically ceased to be a hurricane just prior to the time it made landfall.

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the Atlantic are produced by the US National Hurricane Center. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

Will Joaquin affect the UK?

With the confidence around the exact track of Joaquin being so low, it is currently too early to tell if this system will affect the weather in the UK. There is, however, already high confidence that we will return to more autumnal and unsettled conditions across the UK early next week. Make sure you keep up-to-date with the Met Office five-day forecast.

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.

A look back at this week’s news

26 08 2015

The Met Office has been in the news again this week, with our contracts for broadcast weather services generating a huge amount of column inches and public reaction.

It’s certainly been heartening to see and hear the level of public support for us. Over the last few days, ‘Met Office’ trended on Twitter and approaching 34,000 people have read our blog. We’ve had over 27,000 mentions of the Met Office on Twitter and lots of comments on our Facebook page. Here’s a very small selection of the feedback we’ve received:

  • @metoffice weather app will remain my first choice when it comes to weather reports.
  • @metoffice Met Office most highly respected in world. …
  • Dont worry @metoffice, you’ll always be my forecaster of choice :) #weather
  • .@metoffice Been using your app for quite a while. You provide an amazing service.
  • … Behind that lay my respect for the expertise and professionalism of the Met Office and its presenters.
  • … I do trust The Met Office and will follow them online …
  • … I’ve used the Met Office local weather map for years and find its forecasts almost unerringly accurate. You must also take into account the exceptional volatility of UK weather, and I doubt anyone can better MO for their knowledge and experience in that regard.

Moving from the positives to the negatives – there is some misinformation around.

Firstly about our apps. There’s been some suggestion in the media that our app is not popular. However, our apps have had 12 million downloads and they are rated 4 out of 5 on android and 3 out of 5 on iPhone. Like all providers we are always looking to improve and we hope build on this in the future. Last week we had 128% increase in app downloads and a 94% increase on website hits too.

Secondly in terms of value for money, it has been suggested that the Met Office charges the BBC £30 million a year. This, in fact, is the total of our commercial revenue from a wide range of customers – aviation, energy, marine, retail to name but a few. We receive only a small fraction of that amount for our presenter services to the BBC. Given that our presenters are paid at market rates this has to be great value for money.

For us, though, it’s never been about the money. It’s about serving the nation and ensuring the public benefits from the best weather forecasts and warnings to make informed decisions.

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.


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