The Met Office’s outlook for the start of winter 2015

There are some headlines in the media today which suggest the UK faces another stormy start to winter before conditions turn cold into January, based on the latest Met Office three month outlook for contingency planners.

As we’ve discussed previously, the outlook is 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.

It 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 November-December-January based on our seasonal forecasts and those from other leading centres around the world.

It states “For November-December-January above-average UK-mean temperatures are more likely than below-average” and “Latest predictions for UK-mean precipitation favour near- or above-average rainfall for November-December-January”

However, there are still substantial probabilities that either average or cool/dry conditions may occur. This is because there are many competing factors that determine what our weather will be like in the coming months.

Some more context on the outlook

The outlook suggests the continuing risk of our weather coming in from the Atlantic, which brings unsettled conditions, during the first part of the three month period.

This is a fairly normal set up for the time of year, when we do expect unsettled weather, but the outlook does suggest that “spells of wet and windy weather may be more frequent than is typical”.

As the outlook covers the transition from autumn into winter, there can be big changes in how UK weather is influenced by prevailing weather patterns during the period. Confidence in how the weather patterns will develop later in the period reduces and this is reflected in the outlook when it states “the risk of occasional colder outbreaks increases later in the period.”

As always our forecasts and warnings will highlight the detail of any severe weather when it is expected, enabling everyone to take action based on the best forecasts available. If there is evidence of any severe weather further ahead than 5 days, we will signal this as far ahead as possible through our monthly outlook – which is updated daily.

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16 Responses to The Met Office’s outlook for the start of winter 2015

  1. xmetman says:

    The only time I can see seasonal forecasts being of much help to anyone, be it business or the general public, is if they’re was a strong signal of a prolonged cold or wet spell in the next 3 months.

    I can’t remember if this happened in Autumn 2010 and what we could have done to mitigate its effects except buy in more rock salt.

    I suppose what we can glean from a forecast for a milder and wetter winter is that (on the balance of probability) a severe winter won’t happen – we shall see.

  2. jbenton2013 says:

    These long range forecasts are total baloney. Analysis of previous similar forecasts by the Met Office has proven they have absolutely no predictive value whatsoever.

    anyone thinking of using these forecasts would need their heads examined, and if tempted to fall into the gullible trap of believing the Met Office “milder/warmer” than average (it’s always warmer than average according to the MO) they may well be negligent in their planning, particularly Local Authorities which seem to the target for these wild guesses by the MO.

  3. Hold on, I think a lot of people are missing the point in what a seasonal forecast does and is for. First off, @xmetman, these types of forecasts are for people who consider multiple contingencies in the future and want to maximise their utility (maximise their gains) or hedge their risks (minimise their losses), for example, by moving resources towards the more likely outcome. Secibdky, @jbenton2013, where are your validation sources? Substantiating the claim they have ‘no predictive power whatsoever’ would be difficult, even for a veteran statistician to prove, and it isn’t always warmer than average, forget the winter of 2010 already, which was the coldest on record?

    • jbenton2013 says:

      If you believe the Met Office long range forecasts have any relevance for “maximising gains” I hope you’re not involved in planning my utilities. By the way I have some rather nice snake oil you may be interested in at an excellent price.

  4. Some amatuer weather forecast sites are saying that weaher modles are pointing towards a poosability of a colder winter developing with blocking highs developing to the north.

  5. I think someone should explain the pointers and drivers for sudden stratospheric warming…

    • xmetman says:

      Are there any pointers or drivers? I thought these events just happened and at the moment we just can’t predict when that will be.

  6. I love how everyone always gets so worked up about weather forecasts, if you don’t believe in them then don’t read them, if you do then happy days, but if you get worked up about something that may or may not happen and is completely beyond your control then you seriously need to get a life.. Seasons Greetings 🙂

  7. I tabloids seem to over publicise the weather, I’ve seen so many polar maritime air mass headlines recently, the UK hardly ever experience cold snaps nowadays, Atlantic low pressure weather fronts dominate our weather

  8. Thanks Angie could not put it better myself,its those people who choose not to be leave the forecasters,they organise out door pursuits,it rains, then they complaine .

  9. Brian Harris says:

    The best way to determine the weather is to look out of your window.

    • tellthetruth1 says:

      I have been known to say that to my Mum! I like weather and follow a few forecasters/storm chasers. Got a few apps, and my living room window. I have no excuse not to know what’s going on in that regard. Met Office is one of my apps. Great to find this blog as I didn’t know it existed.

      The usual weather panic exists for this winter. Mum said we’re in for a bit of a baddun. So I looked it up this morning. Three guesses as to the website where that news comes from! But i won’t complain if it takes a few more, haha 🙂

  10. It is very warm here in Surrey for the start of February 2015 – I have my windows open and the cool air fans on, yet nothing reported anywhere in the news about temperate weather conditions for this time of the year. It should be pretty freezing for this winter and it is all over the UK, except for that of London and Surrey.

  11. Phil Jackman says:

    Pass me the Seaweed

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