In fact, WSI (Weather Services International), the company behind The Weather Channel, says winter 2014-15 will be a season of two halves with the coldest weather likely to occur during January and February.
As even amateur weather enthusiasts know, the coldest part of the winter generally does fall during this period so WSI’s forecast comes as no surprise. However, this may not stop the Daily Express or its Irish red top cousins from screaming ‘Coldest January in 150 years on the way”.
There will be others who will question the entire notion of forecasting beyond the widely accepted reliable 10-day timeline. Whether we agree with long range forecasts or not and no matter how much we might question their scientific basis however, they are very much part and parcel of the big business weather game. Either way, WSI says it has based its forecast on “our internal statistical analysis” so who are we to argue?
In its latest winter forecast for Europe, WSI says it expects widespread above-normal temperatures across Europe for the November-January period, especially northern and eastern sections, with below-normal temperatures confined to parts of Iberia.
According to WSI Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford: “The bulk of evidence currently suggests that the rest of autumn will be generally warm and wet across northern Europe, similar to the pattern observed for much of last winter. However, fundamental changes to ocean temperature patterns across the North Pacific and North Atlantic since last year are now strongly suggestive that the last half of winter will be much colder than the first half. While the exact timing of the pattern change is clearly impossible to predict, we suspect that January will be colder than December and that February will be the coldest of the three winter months.”
Peter O’Donnell, the Vancouver-based long range forecaster for Irish Weather Online, is also forecasting a mixed winter with occasional cold spells and periods of mild weather.
According to O’Donnell: “The overall theme will be large variations from some quite cold spells (expected about once a month) to very mild spells. This may be true of most winters to some extent, but I think it may stand out as the dominant feature due to the large differences involved.”
“I expect the colder portions of the winter (the next five months, that is) to be mid-November, a spell in early December, parts of early to mid January, and possibly a longer and more dominant cold spell late February into March. You can see from that schedule when the milder intervals are predicted, and this would include Christmas into New Years.
A period around 4-7 January might be particularly volatile and provide some very strong winds as well as a sharp drop in temperatures leading to a brief wintry spell.
The pattern probably favours northerly over easterly types of cold weather which tells us that snow might be more likely in Ulster and Connacht (higher inland locations especially) than from the Irish Sea in Leinster. However, some snow could fall there too once the sea temperatures fall off a little, it would take exceptional cold for November to be cold enough to generate snow instead of sleety rain at this early stage of the season,” added Mr. O’Donnell.
Peter O’Donnell is a Vancouver-based climatologist who specialises in providing long-range forecasts for Ireland and Britain.
Leading UK-based forecaster, Netweather.tv has also issued its preliminary forecast for winter 2014-15. Like other long range forecasts issued for the forthcoming season, Netweather is predicting “a cold heart to the winter with January likely to be colder than average due to an increased likelihood of an SSW (Sudden stratospheric warming) occurring.”
The forecaster says it will be a winter “with something for everyone with no pattern dominating for long”.
Other key points in the Netweather preliminary forecast:
– December and February are likely to be around average temperature wise.
– AO around -1, with January the lowest AO month.
– Precipitation close to or slightly above average overall.
– Tendency for storm tracks taking a more southerly route across the UK -therefore potential for a significant wind event affecting the bulk of the UK.
– Above average hill snow for Scotland.
Netweather says: “These thoughts are preliminary and subject to change prior to the release of the official Netweather Winter Forecast that will be released by the end of November 2014.”
Read the forecast in full here.
Heavy and persistent snow, freezing gales and sub-zero temperatures will grind the country to a standstill for up to five months, he said, despite long-range weather charts not signalling anything remotely as dramatic.
Madden says “significant snowfall” is likely in weeks with “savage frosts and thick winter fogs threatening widespread misery”.
He said: “It is likely to turn progressively colder, even very cold at times, in particular, in parts of the north as northern blocking becomes a somewhat more prominent feature. This is likely to bring some significant snow across higher ground within this period.”
“This may also bring the first snow event of the season to some much lower levels of the country, in particular, in some parts to the north and east of the country, but these wintry weather events may also not necessarily be restricted to just these parts, and some much lower levels of the country could also experience their first taste of wintry weather for the season in terms of overnight snow or developing wintry showers,” stated Mr. Madden.
RECAP: It was once said that a stopped clock is right twice a day. As recent years have shown us, some long range weather forecasters can only dream of such a track record. Time will tell whose forecast is on the money and consequently who becomes next year’s media darling for long range forecasts. We will reserve judgement until the Donegal Postman and the New Zealand guy that Today FM’s Matt Cooper adores have spoken!