Will we see a record-breaking spring?

There have been some headlines in the media in the last few days around predictions for a record-breaking spring in the UK.

It would appear these stories have been based, in part, on the latest Met Office three-month outlook produced for contingency planners.

This outlook is designed to help planners in business and Government assess the level of risk connected to different weather scenarios. As discussed previously, the outlook is not like a normal weather forecast. It does not identify weather for a particular day or week – so is not that useful when you want to know, for example, which spring weekend looks good for an outdoor event.

The outlook assesses global weather patterns and their potential to influence both temperature and rainfall for UK as a whole for the next three months. It is based on the more probable prevailing weather patterns and has to be used in the right context.

It is 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.  Users of the outlook are aware of the complexities and limitations of this type of forecast, and will include those factors in their decision making processes.

What does the current outlook for April-May-June 2019 say?

The current outlook explains that ‘For both April and April-May-June, long-range prediction systems show small, but consistent signals, of an increase in the likelihood of high pressure. At this time of year, high pressure is usually associated with warmer-than-average weather. This, along with the tendency for higher UK temperatures seen in the last 10 years, leads to an increased chance of warmer-than-average conditions’.

This far from implies the UK will predominantly experience warm, dry weather, and does not mean there can’t also be some colder spells. It is important to remember that higher-than-average temperatures won’t necessarily feel like ‘good’ weather if there are spells of cloudy, windy or wet weather..

There is also a suggestion that drier-than-average conditions are slightly more likely than wetter-than-average, but the signal is small and the likelihood of extreme weather is close to normal during this period.

If you want a forecast for your area or are looking to plan up coming activities head to our forecasts pages for a detailed 7 day forecast or a 30 day look ahead at weather trends.

The challenge of long-range forecasting

The science of long-range forecasting is at the cutting edge of meteorology and the Met Office is leading the way in this area. As noted above, it doesn’t offer us definitive forecasts but gives an assessment of risk. Influences on our weather from around the world help to steer our weather patterns, but these influences are only part of the story, as our weather patterns exhibit substantial variability of their own.      

We are continuing to work hard to develop the science of long-range forecasting, identifying new sources of predictability and building better prediction systems. We are confident that our long-range outlooks will progressively improve over time. In addition, we take into account predictions from other long-range forecasting centres around the world, so our outlooks will benefit as the science matures more widely.    

The Met Office constantly reviews the accuracy of our forecasts across all time scales and is recognised by the World Meteorological Organization as one of the top two national weather forecasting services in the world. We also routinely verify our short-range forecasts on our website.

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