There are headlines in the media today which suggest the Met Office is forecasting that this summer will be one of the hottest on record. However, the Met Office hasn’t issued a forecast along these lines.
The news stories are based on information taken from our three month outlook for contingency planners, so let’s take a closer look at that.
What does our three month outlook say?
As we’ve discussed previously, this outlook assesses the level of risk connected to five different scenarios for both temperature and rainfall for the whole season. It’s a bit like the science-equivalent of factoring the odds on a horse race.
However, as with any horse race, it’s always possible that the favourite won’t win – so these probability scenarios have to be used in the right context. This is why they’re useful for planners and businesses who plan ahead based on risk, but not that useful for the general public who would like to know which fortnight in August will have the best weather for a holiday.
The current outlook for the whole of the June-July-August period for the whole of the UK says the chance of the warmest scenario happening is 25% and the chance that the period will fall into the coldest scenario is 10%.
So, while the current three month outlook suggests there is a higher chance of above average temperatures than below average, it does not tell us about the type of weather we may see.
Above average temperatures could be reached by milder nights, as can occur in summer in cloudy and wet conditions (for interest, average maximum temperatures for the UK in summer are about 18.6C and average minimum temps are about 10.2C). There is also only a small forecast signal for summer rainfall and therefore, we cannot make any strong assumptions about the weather we’ll see.
We saw a good example of this recently – the UK has just had the third warmest spring on record but the season didn’t have long stretches of blue skies and high temperatures. Instead we saw mixed weather with a lot of mild nights which contributed to the overall above-average conditions.
So, what will the summer be like?
Obviously there’s always a lot of interest to know what summer will be like – how hot will it be, how much rain will we get and where and when will it fall?
Our 30-day outlook (under the text forecast tab) provides a look ahead to the general type of weather we’re likely to see in the UK.
Currently it says that after today, the weather is expected to settle down with many areas having some warm sunshine, although showers are still likely in the northwest.
From mid June to early July, the indications are that the weather will be close to what is climatologically normal for this time of year – giving us a tendency for occasional spells of unsettled weather interspersed with fine and warm spells, much as we have seen recently.
If there is any sign of significantly hot spells or heavy downpours in the forecast, we will keep the country up to date through our forecasts and warnings. Our ‘Get Ready for the Great British Summer’ webpages also provide useful tips and information to make the most of the summer months, whatever the weather.