There are some headlines in the media today which suggest the UK faces another mild, wet and stormy winter this year based on the latest Met Office three month outlook for contingency planners.
Every month the Met Office updates its three month outlook for contingency planners, which is available for anyone to view on our website.
However, it’s not like a normal weather forecast. It’s an experimental and complex outlook based on probabilities which is designed specifically for those who plan ahead for various contingencies based on possible likelihoods.
As we’ve discussed previously, the outlook assesses the likelihood of five different scenarios for both temperature and rainfall for the whole of the UK for the whole three months, based on the most probable prevailing weather patterns.
It’s a bit like the science-equivalent of factoring the odds on a horse race and like any horse race, it’s always possible the favourite won’t win.
This is why the outlook has to be used in the right context. So it’s useful for contingency planners, but not that useful for the public who want to know when we might see unsettled weather or which weekend looks good for an outdoor event.
What does the current outlook say?
Our latest three-month outlook suggests an increased risk of milder and wetter than average conditions for the period Oct-Nov-Dec based on our seasonal forecasts and those from other leading centres around the world.
However, there are still substantial probabilities that average or opposite (ie cool and/or dry) conditions may occur. This is because there are many competing factors that determine what our weather will be like in the coming months.
The outlook also highlights an increased risk of unsettled weather relative to what is usual for the time of year, but – again – there are still reasonable chances of other scenarios.
The increased risk of more unsettled than average conditions does not mean the late autumn and early winter will necessarily be like that of last year.
Some more context on the outlook
The outlook suggests that the risk of our weather coming in from the Atlantic, which brings unsettled conditions, increases from mid-October through November and December.
This is a fairly typical set up for the time of year, when we do expect unsettled weather, but the outlook does suggest the risk of more unsettled than normal conditions.
As the outlook covers the transition from autumn into the start of winter, there will be big changes in how UK weather is influenced by prevailing weather patterns during the period.
The current settled conditions bring us generally warm weather in early autumn, but the same weather pattern in winter would likely bring cold weather in from the rapidly cooling continent.