What’s in store this winter? Responding to the headlines

It seems that it is the time of year for colourful headlines about an impending big freeze. We had them at this time last year, which prompted our Chief Executive to write an opinion piece in The Times.

Now we have very similar stories again, with the front page of the Daily Express declaring ‘Coldest winter freeze on way’ and warning that temperatures are set to plunge as low as -15C.

There have been other stories elsewhere along similar lines, with some saying that the Met Office is briefing the Government about a cold winter ahead.

So what are the facts behind the headlines?

Some of the stories have taken a cue from parts of our current 30-day forecast. Today’s forecast for 26 November to 10 December reads as follows:

As is usual, there are uncertainties in the forecast for this period, but there are signs that the changeable conditions will continue through the start of this forecast period. There is also a signal for temperatures to be close to or just below the seasonal average. Into December, although there are no strong indications that any particular weather type is going to dominate, on balance colder, drier conditions than at present are favoured, rather than milder, wetter weather, especially across the southern half of the UK.

However, perhaps what the newspapers have failed to pick up on and report to their readers is that there is still a great deal of uncertainty about exactly what weather we will see – as there often is when looking at timescales of over five days ahead.

The science does not exist to make detailed forecasts for temperature and snowfall for the end of this month, let alone for December or even the winter as a whole.

With regards to us ‘briefing the Government on a cold winter’, this is related to our three monthly outlook for contingency planners.

This is a complex product designed to help contingency planners making long-term strategic decisions based on risk exposure. However, it’s not useful for most other people as it doesn’t give one forecast for what’s ahead – rather it outlines potential scenarios and their associated probabilities.

It’s worth noting that while contingency planners use our three month outlook to inform long-term decisions, they make their operational decisions on our five day forecasts and warnings.

These will always provide the best possible guidance on any periods of cold weather, frost or the likelihood of snow, giving detailed local information across the UK.

Ultimately, we’re heading into winter and we expect winter to be colder than the rest of the year – but it’s too early to say exactly what temperatures we can expect or where and when we might see snow.

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43 Responses to What’s in store this winter? Responding to the headlines

  1. Thank heavens for some common sense. Your five day forecasts now are absolutely brilliant, thank you.

  2. gunnar491 says:

    Forgive slightly off-topic question. How do I go about asking a question about the forecasts as shown on the Met Office online site, and on the Met Office mobile app (because the two are often wildly different, even on same-day forcasts…) Should I send an email? If so, to whom?

  3. Phil Davies says:

    So, what are the potential scenarios and their associated probabilities for this winter that you have provided to contingency planners? Can we see those please?

  4. jeremyp99 says:

    “The science does not exist to make detailed forecasts for temperature and snowfall for the end of this month, let alone for December or even the winter as a whole”

    Thanks. Good to hear that what I suspected is true – that climate models are not worth a pence of our time. Thank so much. I have kept this for quoting as and when.

    • Dave Britton says:

      The statement that the science does not exist to provide detailed weather forecasts is very true when you are looking at periods several months ahead, but when looking at climate scientists are not looking to provide detailed weather forecasts of specific weather, but are looking to explore how the trends in our climate may vary. Using climate models in this way to understand our general climate in 50 to 100 years time provides very useful, and when the uncertainties are taken into account, valuable advise for decision makers.

      • jeremyp99 says:

        If we cannot predict or model the natural variability of weather what does that mean for climate prediction? Phil Jones has said we cannot model “natural” climate – if we cannot do that, then how on earth can we model “climate change”? (whatever that is – the history of the planet shows that there is ONE thing we can predict about the climate – it changes).


        Jeremy Poynton

      • Dave Britton says:

        Some aspects of natural variability of our climate can be predicted with some accuracy, examples including ENSO and the North Atlantic Oscillation to differing degrees. When looking at longer term climate change we are looking trends over decades where some, but not all aspects of natural variability can be minimised to understand how our underlying climate may be changing over time.

      • jeremyp99 says:

        Thanks. Regardless, HADCRUT shows that global temps have reduced since 1998. Why then are we STILL banging on about global warming? Indeed, I am of the solar cycle persuasion (which are of course NOT accounted for in the models) and expect temperatures to carry on declining for two to three decades. No doubt, this will be blamed on global warming. As we are told. cold winters are now the result off. Lewis Carroll, where are you when we need you/?

      • jdey123 says:

        Ok, Dave, so on what possible basis did the Met Office predict in 2011 that the southern UK will be 3C and the northern UK 2.5C warmer in 2100 than it is today?

        Click to access UK.pdf

        When the statistics going back on a daily basis to 1772 show the temperature today in Central England to be only 0.6C warmer than it was in 1772?

        Your climate models are utter rubbish and you know it. They’re peddling alarm with no scientific evidence to support them. Not 1 climate model has successfully tracked temperature change for any reasonable period of time which is hardly surprising given the sheer number of variables and complexity of the climate. Every time the climate models are shown to have failed, we’re told that there are new climate models which are better than the old climate models and that they’re getting more accurate. We know that this is rubbish because the forecast ranges are getting wider from IPCC report to IPCC report, not narrower.

      • Dave Britton says:

        Full details of the climate change projections are shown within the report that you link to. This is in particular Ch2. Which can be found on pages 63-68.

      • jdey123 says:

        Central England temperatures going back to 1772 are here:-

        I’m fascinated by Dave’s comment that ENSO events have now become predictable. Can Dave provide me with a prediction as to what the ENSO event will be for May 2013 then or how many rolling quarters the next warm ENSO event will last for?

        Here are previously recorded ENSO events (looks unpredictable to me):-

        Perhaps Dave can explain what causes ENSO events. Why does the Pacific ocean become warmer and colder? How does heat get trapped in the sea when basic physics tells you that heat should be rapidly dissipated by conduction and convection?

      • Dave Britton says:

        James, what I said was that some aspects of natural variability of our climate, such as ENSO can be predicted with some accuracy. This does not mean that forecasts will be 100% right all the time, but that there is some skill in forecasts of this phenomena. (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/gpc-outlooks/el-nino-la-nina or http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/wcasp/enso_update_latest.html).

        More info on ENSO can be found here http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/gpc-outlooks/el-nino-la-nina/enso-description

      • jeremyp99 says:

        Bob Tisdale gives a fantastic presentation on ENSO here –

        Part to can be found there as well. Very good indeed, clear and to the point.

        With regard to modelling. In the end, it simply is NOT possible to model a non-coupled non-linear dynamic system such as climate. You might as well try to model chaos. Add to that that we know that there are a number of factors the models either ignore or do not cater properly, add to that despite the fact that more and more papers suggest forcing factors are either much less than used in models, or are in fact negative, it will not be possible to come up with a model that is of any use OTHER than propaganda.

      • jeremyp99 says:

        “Why does the Pacific ocean become warmer and colder? ”

        It doesn’t. Parts get warmer and other parts get colder. Watch Bob Tisdale’s presentations. El Nino causes warmer (atmospheric) temps (a big one coincided with the 98 temperature peak, from which we are now receding) and La Nina cooler (atmospheric) temps.

  5. i think regardless of what the temperatures are going to be people need to make sure that theyre prepared for winter. Its important for those with respiratory conditions like me to see their GP or nurse and make sure they have the required medication as the cold air can affect our health. Its also essential that your car is in good working order and that you have supplies in the boot in case you break down and should the transport system or power supplies be affected its useful to keep a little extra food in and have alternative means of cooking and keeping warm.

  6. jeremyp99 says:

    Re the models, the graph seen in this article – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/19/cooling-in-the-near-future/
    shows that they are all WAY out from real life data.

    Which begs the question

    Which “science” is the only one in which the results from models takes precedence over the results from real world data.

    And once more – how exactly does that work?

  7. jeremyp99 says:

    Testing testing … looks to me that my dissenting voice has been banned. Hey, le’s hear it for free speech. No rudeness, no bad language, just an opposing view to the establishment. Shocking

  8. Pete Salmond says:

    As much as I applaud the free speech aspect of this comment box/discussion area, it seems that a few people (notably jeremyp99) have used it to bash climate science (as well as the MetOffice). Whilst its very easy to sit there and state “as it didn’t rain when they said, how can we believe their models?” – it might be more useful to state why you refute their evidence and provide a counter theory of your own, with actual data/evidence… Otherwise you’re just a ‘windup merchant’.

    • jeremyp99 says:


      You need to bone up on Karl Popper’s “Null hypothesis”, and read up some on how science works. The “null hypotheses” is the default “position” for any science. WRT climate, the default position, held by everyone until the environmentalists got to work, is that change in climate is a matter of natural variability. To move from that position, the “null hypothesis” must be disproved. It has not been. Until it is, it is all at best theory and in reality, wild hypothesis. I have nothing to prove. I agree with the science as it stands, that it is a matter of natural variability, and the fact that co2 levels are still climbing (which is of huge benefit to the biosphere and food production) whilst temperatures are not) would suggest that as well. As do the MWP, Roman and Minoan warming periods, which were all three warmer than the warmest of the Late 20th C warming)

      Warm is good. Cold is horrid. The LIA left one third of Northern Europeans dead. Read Brian Fagan’s “The Little Ice Age” if you want the gory details.

      Here’s a synthesis of all the sources of temperature readings from 2002 to 2012. Which way is the graph going?


      HADCRUT also shows rising CO2 and falling temperatures

      Indeed, all you need to be able to do to disprove CAGW is to be able to read a graph. Something Obama obviously can’t do. Poor USA, they have re-elected an idiot.

    • jdey123 says:

      The industrial revolution began in the UK in the latter half of the 18th century at which point CO2 emissions began to rise. As more countries have industrialised, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere have gone up from 280ppm to 390ppm. That is a fact. Now, the problem that global warming fanatics have is that the global temperature hasn’t reacted to increasing CO2 levels for decades at a time, e.g. from 1850 to 1932 (82 years), there was no observed increase in global temperature.


      As you can also see for 40 yers from 1940, the earth’s temperature cooled whilst CO2 levels increased. And finally for more than 10 years now, the earth has been cooling.

      The global temperature has only increased by 0.8C since 1850 which is far lower than what the climate models which the climate scientists supposedly have considerable faith in say. In the last IPCC AR4 report (2007), the climate models said that we should expect increases of 0.2C per decade going forward up to 2100 by which time the world will have increased by 2C. Clearly, there needs to be some explanation other than to point at the output from a computer programmed by global warming fanatics, as to why scientists think that the earth will warm far more rapidly in the next 81 years than it has done for the last 162 years.

      There also needs to be a coherent explanation for each pause that occurs in global warming. This is supposed to be science, after all.

      In the UK, we’re lucky to not only be the world’s first country to industrialise but we also happen to have the world’s longest running temperature record – hadcet. This shows that central England has only warmed by 0.6C over the entire period since the industrial revolution began and it’s cooled over the last 10 years


      Finally, for this to be a true science, you’d think the very least that climate scientists could agree on is which temperature data set provider should be used, what the baseline period to compare current temperatures against should be etc. If we look at a few temperature data set providers, you’ll see that you pays your money and takes your choice when it comes to determining whether the world’s temperature has risen, fallen or stayed the same recently


  9. Pete Salmond says:

    On a final further note, aimed at jeremyp99, I looked at your links. Conveniently, Dr Norman Page, who so boldly writes the main article you are quoting as unbiased fact, has a LinkedIn page.. On that page we see his summary as:

    “International oil exploration geology and management in most of the worlds most active plays and basins including Brazil, Peru, Bolivia.Columbia Venezuela.North Sea, Algeria ,Nigeria,Gabon , Ghana Egypt Syria United Staes Gulf Coast and Offshore GOM. etc etc.”

    The words ‘oil’ ‘industry’ and ‘tainted’ spring to mind, don’t you think?

    • jeremyp99 says:

      Oil. Bless it. Oil which made all that we have possible. Energy, which made all that we have possible. Both of which we don’t want to have the developing nations to have.


  10. jeremyp99 says:

    If those who gibber on about CAGW were to change their lifestyles to reflect their beliefs, rather than telling US to do so, they might – might – just have some credibility. Hello Al Gore, the man with one of the world’s largest carbon footprints (and bank balances, thanks to the farce of carbon trading).

    I’d also add that any science that get’s politicised is dead. Done for. As we are witnessing.

  11. jeremyp99 says:


    Do you have ANY idea why GISS are making so many adjustments to their historic temperature data?


    and UHSCN as well


    • Dave Britton says:

      NCDC discuss the data processing in USHCN versions 2.0 and 2.5 on their website with reference to literature documenting the adjustments at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/ushcn/.

      GISS describe their methodology here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/. As GISS include USHCN data in their global temperature product, the bias adjustments applied in USHCN are also present in GISS data for the US. The change from the use of USHCN version 1.0 to USHCN version 2.0 in GISS dataset is documented in Hansen et al. (2010).

      Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, Mki. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004, doi:10.1029/2010RG000345.

      I hope this helps to provide some background information.

      • jeremyp99 says:


        Thanks. I’ll give those a good going over.

        I gather Hansen has been reported to the NYPD for scientific fraud. It’s very odd that they have started doing this ONLY when temperatures levelled out. I also gather that they are making the past colder (with the obvious result that the upward trend {which of course, is not there if you use the real world data}) even steeper. I really don’t trust Hansen, as he is as much an activist as a scientist, and that is a very dangerous mix.

        Here he is in 1999


        “Empirical evidence does not lend much support to the notion that climate is headed precipitately toward more extreme heat and drought. The drought of 1999 covered a smaller area than the 1988 drought, when the Mississippi almost dried up. And 1988 was a temporary inconvenience as compared with repeated droughts during the 1930s “Dust Bowl” that caused an exodus from the prairies, as chronicled in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.”

        So temperatures fall and he changes his mind. How does that work?

        Interesting article as well on the divergence between various measuring MOs – it seems that the UAH NCDC data clearly shows cooling. Of course, Hansen can’t get his hands on that. I must add, that I think that not a single one of Hansen’s apocalyptic predictions of the future has come to pass (and he predicted a super El Nino this year), which makes me question his motivation. “The cause” seems to be more important to him than the facts. Indeed, he behaves as if he wishes fire and brimstone WOULD fall upon the earth, just to prove him right. That NASA defend this man is a shame on a once proud institution – as all those associated with the Apollo missions told NASA.


        And further discussion of his temperature adjustments, this time in the Arctic


        More on the (increasing) divergence between surface and satellite data here


        And just this animated graphic to finish, which shows how he has turned real world cooling into adjusted world warming.


        On a personal note – I was for a long time, by default, a believer in AGW. It was the language used by its promoters, and the likes of Monbiot and other self-appointed climate evangelists (sic), that motivated me to take a harder look at what was happening. I am appalled by the behaviour of the likes of Mann, Jones and co. On the other hand, it has prompted me to spend time reading up about the science, the politics and the the clash of cultures. If you haven’t read Andrew Montford’s “The Hockey Stick Illusion” and “Hiding The Decline – A History of the Climategate Affair”, do. Also, Brian Fagan’s “The Little Ice Age” which shows quite clearly how much nicer it is to be warm than cold! And Hubert Lamb’s two books on climate – one read, one to go. Whilst my maths and stats are not what they were (being 61 and not studying them since my teens), I skipped passages where he is using formulae, but the rest is utterly fascinating, covering I think every means of extracting temperature data from the past.

        At 61, I’ve been witness to 40+ years of environmental apocalypse proclamations. Not a single one has come to pass, indeed, the modern world is cleaner than it has been for 150 years. This does point to the practise as much of dogma as science. That this is also being taught in schools as fact is criminal.

        Please note that I am in no way associating you in any with what seems to me to be a clear case of widespread scientific malpractice, and must say that you work in an absolutely fascinating field.

      • jeremyp99 says:


        Thanks. The Giss adjustments appear to relates in that paper solely to the UHI. Of that is the case, then one would expect the adjustments to be downwards, yes? Yet for the present and recent times they are upwards.

        Here’s an interesting article on what USHCN are up to, with graphs to show how the temperature increments themselves increment with time.


        I can only assume that these ever-increasing adjustments are to cater for Trenberth’s “Missing heat”. Though the last I heard of him on this, he said it was hiding at the bottom of the ocean. Along with Captain Nemo.

      • jdey123 says:

        That’s one of the main problems with temperature data set providers. None of them are 100% reliable. Even the satellite records are continually being adjusted. For the earth bound temperature data set providers, the problem is that not varying amounts of the earth were sampled over time to produce a global average temperature. So in the early days there were far fewer weather stations spread over much less of the globe than there are nowadays. Plus sampling sea temperatures by having floating devices bob around the world’s oceans obviously introduce quite a degree of inconsistency in the results.

  12. Pete Salmond says:

    jeremyp99: I feel that arguing with someone who grasps at information provided by questionable figures, and treats it as the complete truth, is a massive waste of time. I admire Dave’s patience with you, no doubt he is being professional… But your position *is* so vehemently “politicised” in itself, it makes a farce out of your entire argument.

    I don’t think many climate scientists research and argue their point of view because of ‘pro-oil’ scientists’ views. Yet its funny how many ‘pro-Oil’ scientists will argue against the standard unaffiliated scientists because of what exactly? Perhaps think of a null hypothesis to test that?

    There’s nothing wrong in being critical of any scientific research, but don’t use blatantly tainted ‘text’ as evidence, and don’t forget the rather large white elephant in the room. Whether you like it or not, carbon emissions (notably ones by us) have gone up at a constant rate unseen for 100s of millions of years and soon to be at a level higher than the past 800k years. We’re currently sitting at 398ppm CO2 and only 150 years ago it was 275ppm… The increase is not slowing down, looking at your own graphs its easy to see its us causing it, its not going down for next 100 years even if we try… So shall we just ignore it? Shall we squabble over how we reduce our carbon emissions? Why? To waste time? To keep using oil and assume we’ll be fine? If *you* want to know what the IPCC’s game is -then I’d love to know *your* game is!?

    Take your blinkers off and ask what the point would be to even assume you are right. If ‘Dr Norman Page’ had his way, we’d be well on to 500ppm by now… And would we be pleased with ourselves? Or with our heads in the sand for not at least trying to model the current CO2 increases?!

    • jeremyp99 says:


      Thanks for your comments. A question for you – co2 is rising, temperatures are falling. What’s the problem? Especially given that vegetation LOVES co2! Truly – what is the problem? And how will the tiny cuts we make in the West make any difference given the emissions from China and India? We are spending wads of taxpayer money to – and this assumes you believe in the CAGW meme – in the UK, to reduce temperatures by a tiny fraction of a degree. That’s madness. As for politicising what I write – given that climate science has been horribly politicised (ergo corrupted) what else can one do? It is as much a political problem as anything else.

      “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

      Kevin Trenberth, Climate Scientist. He who thinks that in the case of CAGW, the null hypothesis approach should be reversed. Some might see that as desperation. I certainly would.

      Me? I’m sure co2 warms. A tiny tiny amount. I am sure solar activity has far more effect on the globe than an infinitesimal amount of an essential gas in the atmosphere. We are, after all, a carbon-based life form on a carbon-based planet. Carbon is our friend.

      I would also add that we in the West have NO right whatsoever to deny developing countries what we have enjoyed since the Industrial Revolution. That approach appals me, as does the vast sums wasted on CAGW which could have made a HUGE difference to the Third World – e.g. opening up access to this

      The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.

      Given that, as I note above, the likes of Hansen and some others are activists as much as scientists, given that chunks of the IPCC reports are written by activists and not scientists, it’s a bit rich of you to accuse me of politicisation. Is it not? What is sauce for the goose eh?

      • jeremyp99 says:

        This should have been in quotes

        “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

        This was a comment by Kevin Trenberth, a buddy of Mann, Jones and Co.

    • jeremyp99 says:

      You do realise, don’t you, that the effect of co2 on temperatures is not linear but logarithmic, Pete? Don’t you? Ille est – each extra ppm has less effect than the last one.

      Here’s the Prophet Hansen, in 1981

      Click to access Hansen81_CO2_Impact.pdf

      “Atmospheric CO2 increased from 280 to 300 ppm in 1880 to 335 to 340 in 1980, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels…. The major difficulty in accepting this theory has been the absence of observed warming coincident with the historic CO2 increase. In fact, the temperature in the Northern Hemisphere decreased…”

      So Hansen once was aware that there was no direct correlation between rising c02 and rising temperatures, and of course, more and more studies show that co2 concentration FOLLOWS rising temperature.

    • jdey123 says:

      Why are you worried about an increase in CO2 from 275 parts per million to 398 parts per million? The CO2 levels are way below the level in which they become harmful to man, and it’s impossible for us to burn enough fossil fuels to ever get to a level where it would be.

      There is no correlation between CO2 levels and tempertature. In the pre-historic temperature records obtained from ice cores, CO2 levels have risen in response to higher temperatures not the other way around. If CO2 levels caused temperature increases you’d have ended up with a vicious circle and the earth would have been uninhabitable long before mankind arrived.

      The fact is that the climate is very complex and climate scientists admit there are huge uncertainties which is a polite way of saying they haven’t a clue.

  13. jeremyp99 says:

    And one more thing – it seems to me clear that UHI has been grossly underestimated.

  14. Pete Salmond says:

    jeremyp99: I think the argument you have about the West denying the 3rd World the revolution we had – because of GW – is warped… For sure, it would create a level playing field and mean the West becoming poorer, but that’s inevitable. Indeed, its happening now with us versus China. Surely we could advance our knowledge of Green Tech and introduce it into the 3rd World… Think of it as learning from our mistakes, and selling the advice. They can then develop with that as a starting point, rather than coal and crude oil… Besides, more demand for Oil would only end in financial ruin for someone anyhow, as there is less and less of it.

    Since when can’t we account for the lack of warming? For someone who likes staring at graphs, there are many very eye opening ones when looking at the past 2000 years. The increase in temperature in the past 100 years does indeed spike dramatically with the CO2/methane rise, in a fashion unseen in said period. Even if you look back 1m years, you don’t see a spike like that over a 100 year period, a 1000 year one perhaps!

    As for the warming properties of CO2/methane, they do! Do I even need to tell you this?! Without them we’d be much colder.

    As for UHI, the majority of the greatest warming is occurring in places like the Arctic and Russian Tundra, so I don’t think its an issue!! Clutching at straws perhaps?

  15. jeremyp99 says:

    Not “much” colder. o.7 degrees in 150 years, already lost as we move into Solar Period 24. Plateau for 12 years after 1998, and now temperatures are falling. And the more co2 the better, for agriculture, for feeding the 3rd world – indeed, we could do with a huge boost in co2 concentratrions to deal with the forthcoming loss of growing regions.

    May I suggest you read this?

    Click to access SolarCycle24.pdf

    Which will demonstrate that co2 is not a problem (unless we reduce concentrations too much – at 200ppm nothing grows, ok – do you realise that?) also that, to adopt a phrase – It’s the sun, stupid.

    Wrap up warm, Pete. It’s going to get chilly, as we enter the end of the Holocene Inter-Glacial. Most of the planet’s history is ice-bound, and we are hugely fortunate to live in such favourable climes as we do. Our grandkids won’t. that’s for sure.

  16. At the end of the article you say ..
    ”we expect winter to be colder than the rest of the year”

    How long did your computer models take to work that out ?

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