The jet stream and why it’s too early to write-off summer

There have been one or two stories in the press today saying we’re in for another washout summer, which would rightly inspire collective misery across the country.

However, it’s a far too early to be writing off any chance of a decent summer season – after all, it doesn’t officially start (for us meteorologists) for more than two weeks (on 1 June).

It appears the news stories are borne out of the current position of the jet stream, a band of fast moving westerly winds high up in the atmosphere. But why is this important?

A quick Jet stream explainer

The jet stream tends to guide the generally wet and windy weather systems which come in off the Atlantic. So, if it’s over us or just to the south, we tend to get a lot of wet and windy weather – which is what we expect through winter.

If the jet is to the north of us, it guides that changeable weather to the north to give us more settled conditions – which is what we expect in the summer.

(You can read a bit more about the jet stream, how it impacted our weather last year, and any potential connections to climate change in a blog story we wrote last year).

What’s going on now?

Right now the jet stream is sitting to the south of the country and it is influencing the unsettled weather we are seeing at the moment.

Forecast chart showing position of the jet stream at midday on 13 May 2013

Forecast chart showing position of the jet stream at midday on 13 May 2013

It’s fair to say that this is roughly the position it was in for extended periods during the exceptionally wet weather that we saw last year, particularly in June.

Crucially, however, the jet stream does move around quite a bit and it can change its track significantly in just a few days. So the current position of the jet stream does not mean that it’s stuck in that position.

Looking ahead

Much like our weather, it’s a huge challenge to predict the exact track of the jet stream more than five or six days ahead, so there’s still a great deal to play for in the outlook for our summer.

In short, it’s far too early to write-off summer 2013 based on the current position of the jet stream.

To get the best information on what to expect you can see the latest detailed forecasts out to 5-days on our website, as well as a general view of what we expect out to 30 days.

You can find out more about the jet stream in our YouTube video.

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16 Responses to The jet stream and why it’s too early to write-off summer

  1. This video is private !

  2. Darren Moore says:

    Be great if the video wasn’t private and we could actually watch it

  3. Writing off the summer to rain is a little too much to deal with at the moment so I’ll stay optimistic but if the connection between summer Arctic ice loss is the driving factor, 2013 may be 2007- 2012 all over again.

  4. Do you know where I can get data for past jet stream position over the UK please? Ideally, numerical data as opposed to maps? Thanks

  5. The video in the blog story from last year that you linked has been set as private, and thus can’t be watched.
    Blog post:

  6. shetlandguy says:

    Up here in the Shetland Islands, it must surely be our turn to have a decent summer. Our record temperature is about 23 degrees C so I’m not asking for a lot !

  7. Mark Joseph says:

    Just checke the jetstream for the next 16 day here:;sess=

    It is set to stay in an unusual southerly extended loop over the UK well into June. Northerly winds look to predominate. May is likely to be about a whole degree below normal to add to the last 8 months with temperatures ‘significantly’ below normal. One more summer like last and we will lose a significant number of our insect species (that cannot repopulate from the south unlike in mainland Europe) I sense a bleak future.

  8. Mark Joseph says:

    Edit: In fact the Met office forecast to June 16th Shows as much.

  9. Mark Joseph says:

    As it turns out, July 2013 was the 6th hottest on record! In fact it was a good summer overall. Saved by the bell at the last minute. Climate change is really a roller coaster, both environmentally and emotionally..

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