There have been some reports in the media that the Met Office has forecast a freezing Easter and icy May for the UK with headlines such as ‘Wild weather is set to hit the UK with a ‘polar vortex’ forecast and temperatures threatening to plummet to as low as -8C in the run up to Easter.’ and ‘The next three months will see March storms, below freezing temperatures in April along with expected snow- before a ‘sizzling May’ with heights of 26C’.
These predictions seem to have been based, in part, on the latest Met Office three month outlook for contingency planners, but our outlooks do not tell us the weather for specific days in the coming months.
The science of long-range forecasting is at the cutting edge of meteorology and the Met Office is leading the way with research in this area. However, with Easter over a month away it is too early to be able to predict the weather with any certainty.
As we’ve discussed previously, the outlook is not a normal weather forecast. It’s a forward look at the probability of the broad weather themes that might occur in the next 3 months, and is useful for those who plan for various contingencies based on their likelihood. It assesses the chances of five different scenarios for both temperature and rainfall for the whole of the UK for the next three months. It does not give an indication of what the weather will be like at specific times or for events such as those referred to in the recent media articles.
Some of these reports predict we could be in for some bitterly cold, freezing weather, but our 3-month outlook doesn’t specify that cold weather will occur.
What does the current outlook say?
The outlook for March, April and May as a whole talks about competing influences governing the UK weather this spring, from unsettled Atlantic weather patterns to more settled weather due to blocked, anticyclonic conditions.
After the wet and mild start to March, later in the month and in early April a greater likelihood of blocking patterns leads to more even chances of milder and colder-than average weather. Over the three month period as a whole, however, there is an increased chance of above-normal temperatures and a decreased chance of below-normal temperatures.
Its important to note that this tendency is for UK temperature on average. This takes into account both day- and night-time temperatures over the UK as a whole – conditions will vary at different locations; one area could be warmer than average over the three months while another is colder giving an average result overall.
The outlook also indicates there is only a slight increase in the chances of above-average rainfall in the next three months; essentially the probabilities of above and below-average rainfall are similar to normal.
Currently, therefore, we cannot say whether we will get a ‘bone chilling’ Easter with ’snow and ice sparking travel chaos’ or whether there will be a ‘heatwave’ in May. The 3-month outlook can only highlight the general trends in temperatures or rainfall over the whole period.
We will undoubtedly get both wet and windy and dry and sunny spells of weather as the season progresses, and these will be picked up in our accurate seven day forecasts, as well as our 30 day forecast which gives a more general view of the weather ahead. In addition, our weather warnings will provide advice during any spells of extreme weather.
I did a quick Google on those ridiculous headlines, but I couldn’t find the specific source in relation to Easter 2017, although it did highlight a number of past articles from the Daily Mail and the Daily Express!
Best luck with your seasonal outlook for Spring 2017, because after your poor forecast for Winter 2016-17, you are going to need it!