Winter Forecasting – Responding to the headlines

Once again it is the season for speculation and big headlines regarding what the weather will do over the winter period. The front page of the Daily Express today claims: ‘Worst winter for decades: Record-breaking snow predicted for November’.

We saw similar headlines last year and instead winter 12/13 ended up being only the 43rd coldest on record with an average temperature of 3.3C and flooding until the turn of the year.

What the Daily Express has failed to explain to its readers is that there is absolutely no certainty about what weather the UK will see over the winter period. The science simply does not exist to make detailed, long-term forecasts for temperature and snowfall even for the end of November, let alone for the winter period, which does not officially start until 1 December.

While we have seen a return to more normal, cooler temperatures for this time of year, this is no indication of what we can expect over the next four months with regards to temperatures and when we might see snow. It is far too early to tell.

Ultimately, we’re heading into winter and it is perfectly possible that we will see the whole range of weather that we get in winter at some point over the coming months, including snow and freezing temperatures, but also heavy rain, windy weather and mild conditions too.

Our five day forecasts and warnings will provide you with the best possible guidance on any periods of cold weather, frost or the likelihood of snow, giving detailed local information across the UK to help you make the most of the weather over the coming months.

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47 Responses to Winter Forecasting – Responding to the headlines

  1. John Benton says:

    Very refreshing honesty from the Met Office to admit what everyone knows. It’s not possible to predict what the weather will be more than a few days in advance, and sometimes not even that far ahead.

    This is what the Met Office should be working to improve on, not the global warming alarmism for which it has become known. Let’s hope this marks a change of direction.

  2. Yep, ‘The science simply does not exist to make detailed, long-term forecasts for temperature and snowfall even for the end of November, let alone for the winter period, which does not officially start until 1 December.’ says it all.

    The multi millions we have paid for so called super computers have consistently failed to predict anything that has actually come to fruition, it’s about time the met office got back to doing what it *used* to be good at, telling us whether its going to rain or not tomorrow!

  3. landslide24 says:

    Sorry but it is pretty ignorant to CLAIM there is NO science or NO body can predict the weather long term. Sorry but unless you can test every forecaster out there and prove those claims then you are aso just speculating like the newspapers. But it’s ignorance to state nobody can and that the MO are the best guidance on the weather. I watch the Met office methodically and their accuracey or lack of is astonishing. While Piers Corbyn if you actually buy his forecasts before making more speculative ignorant comments will realise has higher levels of accuracey at a month ahead than the MO does over a couple of weeks.

  4. The Met office will, I am sure, continue with its investigation of climate change and our part in causing it. No change of direction is necessary.

  5. Gd Lightfoot says:

    What the Met Office is admitting is that despite receiving millions from tax payers to buy it a new super-computer they can’t forecast more than 5 days in advance…..and yet, somehow we should believe that they can forecast temperature on the planet decades in the future.

    It is possible to predict weather months in advance but the Met Office can’t because they can’t use the same method as it goes against their ideology that the planet is getting ever warmer due to human emitted CO2 since it would be an admission that the sun controls our weather and climate.

  6. jeremyp99 says:

    Maybe the Daily Express read this : – same weather patterns forming in the East that caused the last five hard winters in Europe (not caused by “global warming)

    and is more aware than the Met of the strong effect of solar activity on climate.

    Bonuses all round!

  7. jeremyp99 says:

    And this on the other side of the pond. Yeah, yeah, I know – it’s just weather. Climate when it gets warmer, weather when we have hard cold..

  8. jeremyp99 says:

    You must forgive me … but this is all very odd given the IPCC’s recent pronouncements. There seems to be, shall we say, a *chasm* between said pronouncemtents – and reailty.

  9. jeremyp99 says:

    And what was I saying about solar activity?

    Now, why would they do that? Anyone would think that they had an agenda.

  10. Linda Serena says:

    There are good correlations on decadal time scales with PDO and particularly AMO ocean cycles and on longer time scales with the sun.

    This is not rocket science. Using such past correlation for prediction should allow better than random results.

    Thus, the comment seems to me an admission, that the Met Office neither investigated nor applies such natural drivers.

  11. Matt L says:

    Don’t know whether this forecast came from Piers Corbyn as I haven’t bought his November forecast yet, but I carried out a 6-month analysis of his forecasts recently and found that his solar/lunar analysis really does have merit.

    See “Weatheraction Analysis” at

  12. When you see lots of worm casts on your lawn, you know it’s going to get cold. Never fails, but how do worms know to dig deeper?

  13. Fair bit of tabloid science from armchair meteorologists in this comment section.

    • jeremyp99 says:

      So you say. Given the lack of real content, you might as well have written “Yah boo sucks”.

    • landslide24 says:

      Yeah, all those spouting their AGW tabloid science . Just as the newspapers forecast extreme winters that never happen, so does the MO spout warming, droughts, no more snow etc that does not happen.

  14. Green Sand says:

    I find it refreshing that our Met Office is taking issue with sensational and alarmist articles/headlines. I am very much looking forward to more of the same.

  15. jeremyp99 says:

    “If the Met Office is right, and temperatures rise to record levels in the next 5 five years, then the sceptics will have no-where to hide”

    Whoops 🙂

    6 November 2009

    If the Met Office is right, and temperatures rise to record levels in the next 5 five years, then the sceptics will have no-where to hide. If the Met Office is wrong, and in the next few years we have not exceeded 1998 temperature levels, then this would cause big questions to be asked – remember their simulations rule out zero trends for 15 years or more.

    • jeremyp99 says:

      Green Sand (13:02:59) :

      What was it you were saying about sensational/alarmist articles? Looks like you got the wrong target…

      No more snow. Not to mention. Mediterranean gardens. All sensational/alarmist predictions thrown at us via the Met, the BBC, the Guardian and a largely complaisant media.

      At 62, I have been bombarded for c50 years with predictions of EcoApocalypse. Not a one of them has even remotely come to pass. Give us a break eh?

  16. Green Sand says:


    “sensational/alarmist articles?”

    Cuts both ways, if they are going to take time out and take issue with a nondescript trying to drum up business along with selling tomorrows “a” wipes then they can stand up and be counted when somebody else carries the “we are all going to fry, drown, melt, evolve into fish etc” headlines. But they won’t.

    PS, I am quite sure our MO are perfectly aware of what I meant!

  17. aelfwald says:

    The metoffice should just stick to the facts, if it is willing to provide any, rather than provide an editorial/critique of tabloid newspaper stories.

    Maybe, as with the cold weather last year, they will provide an unconvincing yet smug after the event description of how their models predicted the weather – shame they won’t share such forecasts with the public beforehand. If you only provide information of your “forecasts” after the event its very easy to be correct.

  18. Joe Godfrey says:

    99.99999999999999% of energy in global climate, and heat, and for that matter the way the atmosphere moves, is directly related to the position, and activity levels of the sun. Therefor you can’t dismiss solar output. If the sun lost 10% of activity, we’d see the effects over a period as the planet cooled, so why not allow the fact that if the sun has a hissy fit, the plant will marginally warm up.

  19. lewis1987 says:

    Global warming is a very real threat in my opinion.. Just look at the typhoon that hit the Philippines.. Strongest ever recorded, ever, in the whole world.. Category 6.. Plus the tornadoes that have hit America, in NOVEMBER.. Don’t that tell you something.. If not your a absolutely blind!

    • jeremyp99 says:

      Haiyan was the 7th strongest (recorded) typhoon to hit the Philippines. (Source – Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration)

      Tornado levels in the USA very low at the moment. (Source – United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

      You really shouldn’t believe everything the warmers tell you. And you really SHOULD ask yourself – what are we being lied to? And why do you believe these lies?

    • jeremyp99 says:

      Oh dear Lewis. November tornadoes are not that uncommon.

      “In the wake of the deadly Midwest tornado outbreak on Sunday, many people are wondering how rare tornadoes are during November.

      The short answer is that tornadoes can occur in the Midwest during any month of the year. However, the number of tornadoes diminishes substantially during the cold-weather months.

      There is a secondary severe weather season that occurs during October and November, which favors the Deep South.

      While rare, tornadoes reaching as far north as the Midwest and mid-Atlantic are not unheard of during November. Occasionally, a small number of the tornadoes can be rather strong.

      According to Harold Brooks, senior research scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., “The peak of the secondary season for the United States as a whole is rather diffuse, but is centered over the middle of November.”

      The uptick in severe thunderstorms during October and November can be simply explained by the routine strengthening of storm systems during the autumn that are able to pull lingering warm and humid air northward from the Gulf of Mexico”

      Science, you see, is not a belief system. You seem to have conflated the latter with the former. Must try harder

  20. When the temperature in my house cools or warms I don’t first angst about reducing or increasing the insulation in the loft. I naturally first check the level of output from the central heating boiler. That is common sense. Therefore its also common sense to look at the variations in output from the earth’s heatsource…the sun.
    Over time the temperature of this planet has fluctuated. And I am not talking about during some far off dinosaur period. During the early part of the Egyptian civilization the Sahara was a very different place. It actually became desert because the weather there has COOLED. The land was no longer hot enough to trigger a monsoon. Clearly it still isn’t.
    We can’t pickle the earth in aspic and expect climate patterns and the dramatic effects of same to stay always the same. I do not belief in man-made global warming. Most of the evidence put forward by this strange modern religion is (like all religions) selective and requires a leap of blind faith.

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