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It's going to be a cold 2010

Andrew Neil | 11:27 UK time, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

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As much of the country braces itself for further snow falls and freezing temperatures word reaches me from several US forecasters that the whole of the Northern Hemisphere is in for a very cold start to 2010. Apparently there's been a strong downspike in something called the Arctic Oscillation Index and the North Atlantic Oscillation Index is also strongly negative.

This alignment in both atmospheric circulation patterns in a downward direction has led some forecasters in North America to predict a bitterly cold snap for the first half of January for North America and Northern Europe. One AccuWeather senior meteorologist called Joe Bastardi is even forecasting

"cold of a variety not seen in over 25 years in a large scale is about to engulf the major energy consuming areas of the northern Hemisphere. The first 15 days of the opening of the New Year will be the coldest, population weighted, north of 30 [degrees] north world wide in over 25 years."

Some other forecasters agree. But not the Met Office here in Britain, which is apparently sticking to its forecast of a relatively mild winter (I think ... it's not really clear from its website), despite recent evidence (ie from the mid-December onwards) to the contrary. Indeed, from Scotland to the Great Lakes in North America the December weather has been fiercer than it has been for quite some time.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out, especially in the context of the post-Copenhagen global warming debate. The climate gods have not been kind to those who gathered in Copenhagen, which took place in freezing temperatures and snow flurries and broke up as the weather got even colder.

Scepticism seems to be on the rise, perhaps encouraged by the failure of the "warmist" consensus at Copenhagen and recent bitterly-cold weather. I appreciate the current weather conditions have little bearing on long-term climate trends and should not be used in the warmist v sceptics debate about global warming, though both sides can't stop themselves when current weather would seem to bolster one side or the other.

But if January turns out to be as cold or colder than December then the Met Office will have some explaining to do: after its forecast that we were in for a BBQ summer in 2009 (yes, I missed it too) if it can't get its winter forecast broadly right, why should we believe its forecasts for 2020 or 2050?

Meanwhile I pass on this advice from one US forecaster who thinks we're in for a tough time: "bundle up, stock up and get ready."

Oh yes -- and Happy Hogmanay!

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