Various media reports have been commenting on our longer-range warnings in the run-up to the recent cold snap.
This period of severe weather was very well predicted and the first signs appeared around one month before the start, when we were able to offer broader advice about the likelihood of a cold signal. Our advice to government and the public ramped up in confidence and detail starting from the early signs in late January as events became clearer in our forecasts:
- 26 January: The first indications of a possible cold spell were given in our one-to-three month outlook for contingency planners. On 26 January we said:
‘For February, below-average temperatures are more likely than above-average temperatures. The likelihood of impacts from cold weather during February is greater than normal.’
Note: that this public outlook is always updated a week later (2nd February), leaving only the three-month view. The one-month outlook reverts to the 30-day forecast at this time.
- 30 January: we briefed transport users and energy users with this information.
- 5 February: we emailed users of our long-range outlooks on the impending Sudden Stratospheric Warming event and increasing likelihood of wintry conditions.
- 6 February: reports of our warnings started to appear in the media.
- 9 February: we updated our online news release with a statement that there was now high confidence that a Sudden Stratospheric Warming was on the way.
- 10 February: a second article appeared in the Times in response to an enquiry. Note: this article is only available to readers with a subscription.
- 12 February: an online update was issued for the week ahead with a reminder of the Sudden Stratospheric Warming and the first yellow warnings of snow and ice.
- 16 February: a further online update explained that the Sudden Stratospheric Warming had happened highlighting the risk of cold easterlies and snow.
- Numerous media reports then highlighted the impending cold snap more widely.
- The first cold weather alert for England was issued in association with Public Health England on Wednesday 21 February, valid from Friday 23 February.
- We kept the public and key stakeholders with our online media updates on the 19th, 21st and 23rd February.
- The first National Severe Weather Warnings were issued on 23rd February.
- Thereafter, our shorter-range forecasts and updates gave clear warnings about the timing and location of the forecast snowfall, including: 25 February; 26 February; 27 February; 28 February; 1 March; 2 March: and 3 March.
So, in summary, the severe cold snap of late February and early March was very well predicted, even from long-range on this occasion. The Met Office provided clear and regular updates on the increasing levels of risk from late January onwards to ensure everyone was aware of how the weather would impact them and they could be prepared for it.