More on the wettest April in 100 years in the UK

Readers may recall how the Met Office botched yet another forecast, calling for drought but instead getting a month of deluge. Here’s the numbers.

By Paul Homewood

A rocking horse looks out from a flooded playground near Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire

The UK Met Office have just released their weather data for April, which confirms just how wet and cold the month has been. With an average of 126.5mm of rain, this has been the wettest April on records which go back to 1910. It was also the coldest since 1989, 0.65C colder than the 1971-2000 average.

Rainfall April UK

Mean temperature April UK

This, of course, is in stark contrast to the 3 month outlook the Met Office issued on 23rd March, which told us that :-

SUMMARY – PRECIPITATION: The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for April-May-June as a whole, and also slightly favours April being the driest of the 3 months.

and

SUMMARY – TEMPERATURE: The UK-average temperature forecast for spring (April-May-June) shows a range of possible outcomes that are warmer than the range observed between 1971 and 2000 (our standard climatological reference period), but quite similar to the last decade. For April the forecast also favours temperatures being warmer than the 1971-2000 reference period.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/p/i/A3-layout-precip-AMJ.pdf

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/q/q/A3-layout-temp-AMJ.pdf

So far (unless I have blinked),the Met Office Chairman, Robert Napier (formerly Chief Exec of WWF-UK), has not been doing the round of TV studios to apologise for getting things so badly wrong. But what about the longer perspective, with parts of England still officially in drought?

Figure 1 shows annual rainfall trends up to the end of 2011. The last 2 years have been dry, but are similar to many earlier years in the record, while the long term trend is remarkably stable.

image

     Figure 1

Further analysis on the 2011 numbers by season and also by region is available here. (Again, this analysis shows that there is not much happening with long term rainfall trends and also that there was nothing particularly unusual about 2011).

Figure 2 shows the cumulative rainfall totals in England & Wales for January – April, both for this year and the 1971-2000 average. In most parts of the country, rainfall has been close to normal. Only the West and Wales have had significantly low levels, but these areas have not been in drought and generally receive much higher amounts of rain than the rest of the country anyway. Figure 3 gives the cumulative amounts for the last 16 months. (The 1971-2000 average is also for 16 months, i.e. January – December PLUS January – April). The areas mainly affected by drought (as the map below indicates) are the Midlands, East Anglia and South East, and rainfall levels since January 2011 are down by 19%, 18% and 15% respectively, but close to normal this year.

2012 UK RAIN_htm_2dfc361

Figure 2

 

2012 UK RAIN_htm_26a9c8d2

Figure 3

Annual 2011 Rainfall 1971 - 2000 anomaly

Forecast for May/June/July

The Met Office have also recently issued their 3 month outlook for May to July. For temperatures, they have this to say.

SUMMARY – TEMPERATURE: The balance of probability, both for May and the period May-June-July 2012, favours UK-averaged temperatures above the 1971-2000 climate mean, but in line with those observed over the last ten years. However, predictability for both periods tends to be low, with current forecasts indicating greater-than-average uncertainty in UK weather patterns as early as the beginning of May. May is also a month where there can still be large swings in temperature depending on the prevailing wind direction and so cold spells are still possible despite the most likely scenario being for above-normal temperatures. The probability that the UK-mean temperature for May-June-July will fall into the coldest of our five categories is less than 5%, whilst the probability that it will fall into the warmest of our five categories is around 45% (the 1971-2000 climatological probability for each of these categories is 20%).

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/3/d/A3-layout-temp-MMJ.pdf

And precipitation.

SUMMARY – PRECIPITATION: For UK-average rainfall, the predicted probabilities slightly favour above normal values during both May and May-June-July. However, confidence in this prediction is not high, and there is still a significant probability of below normal rainfall. Whilst the wet weather of recent weeks will have had a positive effect on soil moisture, with all that that implies for agriculture, it is unlikely to have had a significant impact on groundwater supplies. With the forecast for May and May-June-July not favouring a continuation of the current very wet spell, groundwater resources in southern, eastern and central England are very unlikely to recover during this period. The probability that UK-average rainfall for May-June-July will fall into the driest of our five categories is around 15%, whilst the probability that it will fall into the wettest of our five categories is around 30% (the 1971-2000 climatological probability for each of these categories is 20%).

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/2/l/A3-layout-precip-MJJ.pdf

In other words, it will probably be hot and wet, but they don’t really know. Maybe, Robert Napier should go back to saving polar bears.

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Gary Pearse

“and also slightly favours April being the driest of the 3 months.”
Hold on you skeptics, we’ve just gotten into the forecast. April could still be the driest of the 3 months.

ozspeaksup

Piers Corby warned them, he was pilloried and ridiculed.
he WAS RIGHT! and others used his work and didnt have the decency to credit where due!
intereted readers can see his forecast, his warning and the rest at weather action.com
and there is a post here I remember seeing that linked to the UK papers that ran the items he released as a public service to try and help beforehand.

Adam Gallon

It’s bloody cold now! Forecast for tonight has temperature dropping to -5C in some areas.

Babsy

Coldest April since ’89? Just wait until that CO2 kicks in! Then we’ll see it warm up! It’s just around the corner! You’ll see! Bawhahaha!

For UK-average rainfall, the predicted probabilities slightly favour above normal values during both May and May-June-July. However, confidence in this prediction is not high, and there is still a significant probability of below normal rainfall” and “The balance of probability, both for May and the period May-June-July 2012, favours UK-averaged temperatures above the 1971-2000 climate mean, but in line with those observed over the last ten years. However, predictability for both periods tends to be low, with current forecasts indicating greater-than-average uncertainty in UK”
In other words, this means it will be hot/cold and wet/dry with a good chance of above/below normal values in all/some regions.

ozspeaksup

Piers Corbyn was correct!
he copped flack for foregoing his fees for info and warning people as a public service to try and help limit harm.
the papers and other weather outfits owe him apologies and credit where due!
amazing how they can about face and use his info with no compunction…scum!
weatheraction.com has a post on it worth a read:-)

Ian E

You know, I’m pretty impressed, and convinced that they are right : it will indeed be hot and dry – or cold and wet, or hot and wet, or middling and dry, or …
All you doubters here must surely now see that they can really forecast weather (and doubtless climate too) with uncanny accuracy and near 100% reliability!

JohnH

The Met Office use the same software to predict the 100 year AGW forecast and the short term forecast, so no surprices there.
And on the water shortage in SE UK you can pin this down to population growth not being matched with water storage facilities, some of them have been sold off for housing !!!!! so they are now flooded !!!!

Jimbo

Met Office double speak:

For UK-average rainfall, the predicted probabilities slightly favour above normal values during both May and May-June-July. However, confidence in this prediction is not high, and there is still a significant probability of below normal rainfall.

These guys would put lawyers to shame.
Remember the coldest winter in UK for over 100 years when the Met Office forecasted mild. When will the Met Office realise what most of us realise already: Their climate computer models have a warming bias / drying bias. That’s why they keep months ahead forecasting wrong.
By the way in the UK people have learned over the years to prepare for the EXACT OPPOSITE of their forecasts. I lived their for many years.

Jimbo

Gary Pearse says:
May 5, 2012 at 8:04 am

“and also slightly favours April being the driest of the 3 months.”

Hold on you skeptics, we’ve just gotten into the forecast. April could still be the driest of the 3 months.

LOL. Good one. 😉
If it does turn out to be the driest of the 3 months then guess what? Blame global warming. Heads they win tails they win. Even coin standing on the edge they win.

Clive

Thanks as always for the excellent topics posted at WUWT.
You all noticed the little dig here, The balance of probability, both for May and the period May-June-July 2012, favours UK-averaged temperatures above the 1971-2000 climate mean, but in line with those observed over the last ten years.They are saying above average long-term temps, but only average considering the HOT last ten years. So which of you has the data for UK long term vs the past decade? Was the UK warmer in the past decade vs. 1971 to 2000? That’s what they are saying with this catty little note. Right? Wrong?
Like Environment Canada, the UK Met Office does not have a clue with weather past about 3 days. Even EC’s storm warning predictions this winter were utterly incompetent..and they were issued just a few hours before storms that never happened. From November to April, southern Alberta was issued six or seven major (red banner) winter storm warnings, with each warning predicting 10 to 15 cm of snow. They predicted between about 60 and 100 cm of snow in these six or seven storms for Lethbridge. We got about 10 or 15 cm in total for all “storms”. As I recall, a couple of the storms were practically snowless. WUWT? Complete failure, to the point if being possibly a safety concern since their warnings will make people complacent. They have lost any credibility they ever had in predicting short-term weather.

Paul Westhaver

I wonder if the Met Office has acknowledged there faux pas of prediction of the drought? Or are heads buried in sand.

Paul Westhaver

“their” not there…..gosh!! pardon svp

AndyL

The drought and water usage restrictions were announced by water companies early in March.
Any chance you can show the the rainfall trend up to March, i.e. excluding the record high rainfall in April?

Jimbo

Can a professional translator please translate the quotes above from the Met Office into English? Oh, don’t worry I’ll have a go.

“There is an increased and decreased risk of dryflood with warmcold spells. There is an increasingly decreasing probability of dryerwetterwarmercolder.”

Aunty Freeze

Clive says:
‘the UK Met Office does not have a clue with weather past about 3 days.’
I think that is being very generous. Yesterday morning I watched a forecast that said it would be just cloudy all day where I am. I looked out of the window to see it piddling down with rain.

David Ball

Clive says:
May 5, 2012 at 8:20 am
Two days ago, the forecast for Saturday in Calgary was mainly sunny, high range between 13 and 16 C, depending on info source. It is snowing so heavily this morning that I cannot do the work in my yard that I had planned. The moisture is more than welcome, as we are considered,”semi-arid desert”.

Grant

Well, my friends in the UK, clean and press those coats and stow them away for the summer. The MET has spoken.

John F. Hultquist

Thanks, Paul – nice work.
Paul suggests:
Maybe, Robert Napier should go back to saving polar bears.
Not a chance. Didn’t they all die already?
Oh! Sorry, they and the penguins are doing fine.
Maybe Robert could usefully include the remainder of the archipelago – that pale green blob over to the west – in their maps and forecasting and start an uprising for which he could be long remembered. Maybe they don’t have sufficient computational capacity.
The BBC weather lady claims this weekend will be colder than Christmas!

D.M.

Look, don’t be so critical all you “sceptics”! They are going to get it right one of these times! We just can’t predict when!

Grant

Betting is legal in the UK, so a little wager on when the MET will tag a long term forcast sounds interesting. I suspect it’s already being done – I hear you folks bet on everything….

Latitude

It was also the coldest since 1989
=================================
Impossible, warmer air holds more moisture………………………………/snark

Peter Miller

Just another instance of why they deserve such large salaries and big bonuses – by this I mean the bosses of this shambles.

artwest

As so often with otherwise baffling political decisions in the UK, the EU lurks in the shadows:
“We’ve seen a perversity creep into UK policy where, instead of dealing with local water shortages by increasing storage capacity, government is preventing these shortages from being resolved, and is then seeking to reduce consumption. Now we see where this is coming from.
“In order to come to grips with water scarcity and droughts”, says the commission, “the first priority is to move towards a water efficient and water-saving economy”. What the commission decided, the UK government has adopted.
(…)
Basically, price is to be used as the primary tool of water management. No longer is it the function of water companies to provide adequate supplies of clean water at minimum cost. The task is to reduce demand, thereby saving energy and reducing carbon footprints.
Of course, if water becomes too plentiful and there is no need for rationing, extreme water-saving measures could not be implemented and consumer resistance to price rises would be difficult to overcome.
Therefore, in implementing EU policy, it has become government strategy deliberately to maintain a climate of shortage, and an atmosphere of crisis. The consumer is being given the choice between standpipes and higher prices, which makes paying more seem a better option. But it is an artificial choice, engineered for doctrinal reasons rather than necessity.”
More at:
http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=82616

Nancy

I wonder if it will ever occur to them that if they take the pre-programmed allowance for AGW out of their computer program that they might get forecasts somewhat closer to reality ….

artwest

I should have said in my above post that despite the heavy rain we are still going to be subjected to water restrictions for at least months to come because, despite massively increased need for water in the South East, not least because successive governments have refused water company proposals to create extra reservoirs since the 1970s.
The reasoning behind the otherwise baffling refusals (of course hidden from the electorate) is EU policy.

Kelvin Vaughan

Jimbo says:
May 5, 2012 at 8:18 am
“If it does turn out to be the driest of the 3 months then guess what? Blame global warming. Heads they win tails they win. Even coin standing on the edge they win.”
They might tell everyone it’s global warming but most people are laughing at them now!
That’s why they are losing the battle.

Bob Diaz

It appears to be the wettest drought on record. Oh that nasty CO2 did it again!!! :-))

John Blake

How long will Met Office asininities continue before someone of halfway decent integrity and more than half a brain finally knocks their stupid models on the head?
Becoming a consistent laughing-stock to the tune of billions in wastrel public funds is just no longer funny.

The British isles is average on my list
it is about 0.2 degree C cooler there than 12 years ago
See Dublin (Means table)
http://www.letterdash.com/henryp/global-cooling-is-here

Olen

Farmers might be getting a little edgy.
It could be the recent forecasts got switched in the computer model and was intended to be the 100 year forecast. Or maybe the locations got switched.
Whatever happened, it was only the time and locations that were wrong. Or is it was wrong?

pat

Don’t worry. in a few years you will be able to review the MET website and will learn that they had hit the nail on the head. Just a bit of adjustment is needed.and it will be done quite carefully. A bit of retroanalysis by the MET will show that rain fall was quite as heavy as reported and the predictions will be moderated to fall in line. Then they will announce ‘the model’ was right again.

P. Solar

“However, predictability for both periods tends to be low, with current forecasts indicating greater-than-average uncertainty in UK weather patterns as early as the beginning of May.”
Well since capacity for prediction is near zero (possibly negative accuracy) they would do well to adopt “greater-than-average uncertainty” in their computer model’s forecasts.
However, far from adopting a bit of humility , I rather get this impression they are trying to spin this as “weather weirding” .
I can just see the Guardian’s Susan Goldberg reporting this: “Met Office says UK weather becoming less and less predictable. Unprecedented changes in weather patterns make reliable forecasting a thing of the past. Arctic ice cover is now at an all time low, 20% of normal.”

Anything is possible

October will mark the 25th anniversary of the Met Office becoming a national laughing stock.
Thanks a lot, Michael Fish!

“… with parts of England still officially in drought”. Is there an official definition of drought that I don’t know about? All the dictionaries I look at define drought along the lines of “a long period of time when there is little or no rain and crops die”. I don’t recognise that definition as a description of the weather over the past two years and the graphs in the article don’t suggest that either.

mikemUK

Grant @ 9.18am
Taking your notion a step further, the Met Office should demonstrate their forecasting confidence by ‘running a book’ themselves on the outcomes.
That way, either they abandon politics and return to scientific method, or we get the opportunity to bankrupt them!

David, UK

Aww, come on folks, don’t be mean. I’m sure the reliability of the Met’s forecasts has improved in line with their spending on ever more powerful computerised crystal balls. Well – hasn’t it?

polistra

Strange, the dust in those pictures looks almost like water. Must be a mirage. The East Anglia Desert is well known for mirages.

RobW

Sorry O/T but no open thread this weekend so here is the “Great White North” seems the pesky AGW is cooling things down a tad too much.
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Ontario+fruit+crop+losses+million+because+catastrophic+freeze/6572742/story.html

Ian of Fremantle

At the moment I am living in the UK but usually live in Australia. The UK Met Office appear as pro AGW as does the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) in Australia. Both routinely predict global warming associated scenarios which don’t eventuate. Professor Tim Flannery, the Australian Climate Commissioner, famously stated in 2007 after aa prolonged that the East coast of Australia would never again have full reservoirs. Needless to say since then the reservoirs have been overflowing due to very heavy rain all along the East coast during the last 2-3years. The current Met Office forecast for May is “The Met Office predicts the first two weeks of May are likely to stay ‘unsettled’, with the prospect of chilly weather, more heavy rain and, in Scotland, snow”. How does this gel with their earlier forecasts? What really annoys is that these dodgy forecasts of drought and higher than average temperatures are seized on by politicians and the MSM to put the frighteners on the gullible. When these dire predictions don’t eventuate however, there is never an apology or better still a retraction, by the politicians, the Met Office, Tim Flannery, Australia’s BoM or the MSM.

regarding the South east of England, the outlook looks bleak. rainfall has been a little lower than average but extraction levels have increased because of rising population.
This is the timebomb that water companies and the regulators have to face up to, otherwise things will only get worse – or, as Tony Blair would say, better.

Stonyground

My understanding of the generally accepted temperature trend over the last few decades is of a general rise up until 1998 followed by a leveling off. We are occasionally reminded by the MSM that the three hottest years on record occured since 2000, this is consistent with a general rise followed by a flattening out because the flat part of the graph wouldn’t be dead straight but slighty wavy, so the little humps would create those hottest years.
Non of this coincides with my, admittedly anecdotal, real world experiences. I can remember the hot summers around the turn of the century, there has not been a hot summer since then. I can recall a trip to Scotland when I saw the first snow that I had seen in years. I can also recall 2010 when I spent hours, at home and at work, shovelling tons of the stuff. In my little bit of the world it has definately become colder since 1998. Is the UK some strange outlier, getting colder while the rest of the world stays warm?

I and others have said many times before on WUWT, that the Met Office have factored in AGW into their computer models. Since GW (AGW or otherwise) has ceased for the last 14 years their forecasts for both weather and climate are usually wrong. April/May are notoriously unpredictable (my birthday is on 1st May and in my 57 years I have seen every kind of weather from snow to having sunstroke when I was ten), so if they insist on using models they need to be right.
The fact that areas are now flooded that still have hosepipe bans in place due to our “drought”, just adds to our national embarrassment. Our alleged “leaders” definitely have the “Dad’s Army” syndrome about them, Corporal Jones running around shouting “Don’t panic, don’t panic!” while clearly panicking and Private Frazer sitting their with a look of resignation on his face saying “We’re all doomed”

@Andy L
The drought and water usage restrictions were announced by water companies early in March.
Any chance you can show the the rainfall trend up to March, i.e. excluding the record high rainfall in April?

When DEFRA announced the state of drought in Feb, the Met Office outlook for Feb – Apr said :-
The probability that UK precipitation for February-March-April will fall into the driest of our five categories is about 20%, whilst the probability that it will fall into the wettest of our five categories is about 15% (the 1971-2000 climatological probability for each of these categories is 20%).
Poor Caroline Spelman did not have much to go on!
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/did-caroline-ask-the-met-office/

Ian of Fremantle

Forgive me please but I have to add this after thinking about what I just posted.. How can it be that this CAGW is still so prevalent in the circles that matter, the political circles? Doesn’t it make your blood boil that any argument that suggests CAGW may not be real (note I say “may not” not “isn’t real”) is derided by blogs such as Real Climate and Open Mind? It really is a gut churner for me but I feel so impotent as I can’t see how I can make any difference. I am a scientist (a biochemist/molecular biologist) and all my life I have tried to look at all sides of an argument. But the pro-AGW scientists don’t do that. What is even more galling is that when I put a paper forward for a peer reviewed journal I have to provide sufficient information of the methods I used to enable others to check that what I said was reproducible. Where is that requirement in today’s pro AGW papers? Nowhere that’s where. Why not? Why are they so sacrosanct?

I accept that forecasting 2 or 3 months out can be problematic. I really do struggle to understand why they cannot make a reasonable stab at forecasting 2 or 3 weeks in advance.

jorgekafkazar

Ian E says: “You know, I’m pretty impressed, and convinced that they are right : it will indeed be hot and dry – or cold and wet, or hot and wet, or middling and dry, or …”
Oh, noes! Global middling is coming! Run away! Run away!

At an annual cost of approximately £170 million, I’d suggest we buy a crystal ball instead; it would be a heck of a lot cheaper and way more accurate! A national disgrace!!

Are the people at the Met Office paid money to produce this rubbish?

DaveS

Will the Met Office now be pleading for a bigger, shinier, computer to improve ‘accuracy’ of their forecasts?

guys – I would be more worried about whether the water companies and the regulator rely on these forecasts when drawing up their budgets and forecasts!