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Flaming June could end up a washout

Paul Hudson | 15:09 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011

June's weather looks set to deteriorate further as low pressure intensifies its grip across the UK.

The timing couldn't be more awkward for the Environment Agency who this morning issued a drought order for parts of Eastern England.

Only hours later, the Met Office issued yellow warnings in parts of the country, including drought-order hit Lincolnshire, for prolonged thundery downpours that could produce 25-45mm in places, with the associated risk of localised flooding.

Just as the atmosphere was 'blocked' through March and April, with persistent areas of high pressure that led to the dry conditions, the atmosphere looks set to stay stuck in a rut of persistent areas of low pressure, possibly for much of the rest of June.

On Sunday a deep area of low pressure will bring rain sweeping across the UK, including drought-hit Eastern England. A respite will follow into next week with a little ridge of high pressure, before another area of low pressure swings back in from the west bringing more rain to many areas later in the week.

It's an all too familiar pattern of weather for the British Isles at this time of the year, especially after a long period of dry weather, which only a cursory glance at the climate books shows.

It also highlights once more the dangers of long range forecasting.

We all remember the blaze of headlines at the end of May that this summer was likely to be as hot and sunny as the summer of 1976 - arguably the best and most memorable summer of the 20th century - leaving expectations across the country sky high that at long last we might be in for a barbeque summer.

These headlines came from a detailed forecast from private weather company Netweather.

They said only last month that 'Within the summer, we expect the core of the hot and settled weather to occur during June and July, particularly June which we think will be very pleasant with high pressure in charge across much of western Europe and the UK.'

Rarely has a long range forecast gone so spectacularly wrong, so quickly.

The Met Office is still haunted by their now infamous 'barbecue summer' forecast of 2009.

Netweather will be hoping that July and August shows a rapid and sharp improvement - or more likely that their 'shades of 1976' forecast is quietly forgotten.


  • Comment number 1.

    weel done Captian Joe B>

    Last but by no means least comes Joe Bastardi formerly at Accuweather.com and now at US company Weatherbell, based in New York.

    His analysis is often second to none, and he has an army of followers and private clients in America. I contacted him at the weekend, and he has produced a very interesting analysis which you can read on his website by clicking here.

    Joe expects a summer warmer and drier than average, a 'decent English summer' as he put it to me. But he also thinks that a long hot summer (he uses the example of 2003 which across Europe was one of the hottest on record) is 'highly doubtful'.

    His main reasoning is that temperatures higher up in the atmosphere have cooled dramatically, and are much cooler than during the last hot European summer in 2003.

    In fact upper level temperatures at 25,000 ft are cooler than at just about any time in the 13 year data set he showed me.

    This he says will act as a lid on the level of temperatures that can be achieved - in short, if temperatures at the surface that you and I experience get too high, the colder than normal temperatures aloft would cause a destabalisation of the atmosphere, leading to higher rainfall.

    Finally, a close look at the climate records indicates that blocking weather patterns through Spring which have led to the very dry weather across parts of the country mostly give way to a less settled scenario through the following summer, although there are exceptions to this, like in 1976, 1995 and 2003.

    My AGW theorists here in the states will be most displeased.
    And refuse to acknowledge the facts around the prediction.

  • Comment number 2.

    well they got one thing right for today. It absolutely bucketed it down here in Lincolnshire about an hour ago - lasted about 20 mins. Storm drains couldn't cope and the roads were flooding. Think there was a bit of hail mixed in too. As soon as it calmed down the drains cleared very quicky so it wasn't a blockage issue - just sheer volume.
    Now some bright spark on here (labmunkey?) suggested recently that due to the fading la nina etc etc we might be due some flooding this summer. Analogue year was 2007 I think.

  • Comment number 3.

    Netweather have amended their summer forecast very recently away from the shades of 1976 - nice to see they can admit they were wrong and not blindly stick to a forecast.

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't like to think of increased rainfall as representing "deteriorating" weather.
    Whether weather is "good" or "bad" depends on your personal perspective and I am sure that the farmers at least will be very happy with some rain, as should we, since it may prevent further rises in food prices.
    However, the fact that rain may come in heavy bursts, with possible flooding, will only add to "climate change" claims. As we all know, before "climate chaos" hit us, rain was always spread out evenly throughout the year and there were no storms or floods.
    I always get annoyed with the "x weeks rainfall in 1 day" stories which usually proliferate at this time of the year, as if that wasn't how it normally happens.

  • Comment number 5.

    As far as I can see its Piers Corbyn at weather action who is so far spot on. He not only forecast a poor June, but the dry Spring too.

  • Comment number 6.

    I knew it, climate does have a sense of humour. Lets see the photo of a black cloud passing over East Anglia in the shape of a fist with two extended fingers, but then again that's imposing human characteristics onto an innately chaotic system for which we have no influence at all. Still it creates a nice image.

  • Comment number 7.

    I would like to make this point (which was heavily censored, followed by myself being banned from the netweather forum)... so much for freedom of speech!

    How can you make a forecast and call it 'long range', when it's adjusted every couple of weeks because of it's inaccuracies and flaws. According to netweather, we should be experiencing the core of our summer heat this June... er yes, that's why i've had the radiators on these past few nights and there's no sign of any Summer weather in the models for the next 2 weeks! Epic fail!

    Im sure they will take the credit when their frequently revised 'long ranger' comes into fruition. Though if it all goes wrong, i'm sure we'll never hear of it again and it'll be brushed under the carpet!

    Unfortunately netweather's 'Shades Of 1976' headline is sensationalist and just like many other media organisations, done so to ramp up visitor numbers at the expense of meteorologists and their credibility in general. Shame.

    I have no problem with long range forecasting being investigated in the background, but dont unleash these guess work forecasts to the masses.

  • Comment number 8.

    Down in Deepest Kent (Folkstone area) it's been heavy showers all day and 2-3c above ground frost temp all week. Max air temp, 16C. and that's with a southerly wind. Hardly flaming June!

  • Comment number 9.

    #7. - Weather12 wrote:
    "How can you make a forecast and call it 'long range', when it's adjusted every couple of weeks because of it's inaccuracies and flaws."
    I sort of agree with you, but surely all depends on what the purpose of the forecast is?
    If the forecast is supposed ot be the best estimate of future weather at any point in time, then of course it is necessary to constantly adjust the forecast to bring it in line with reality.
    On the other hand, if the purpose is to evaluate the accuracy of the models used in the forecast, then the forecast needs to be fixed in time.
    A lot depends upon whether the changes made are genuinely the result of changing conditions or merely random variations introduced by the models.
    I thnk there are similar problems with the UKMO 5 day forecasts. Is there really any point in forecasting 5 days ahead when by the time you reach the 5th day, the forecast has changed several times and is nothing like the original forecast.
    Yes, the weather, as well as the climate, is chaotic and difficult to predict, but in that case it is a pretence to claim to be able to forecast even 5 days ahead, at least to the level of accuracy claimed in the forecasts.

  • Comment number 10.

    Of course, forecasts will always need updating, but...
    In the case of long range forecasts, the way in which you measure their accuracy is to let them run over an entire season... that's the only way you're going to know if long range forecasting actually works (which i believe it doesnt as there are too many variables). You cant evaluate a long range forecast if you keep changing it every couple of weeks, because it falls completely on its face (as in the case of netweather!)... bet they're loving this publicity!
    I congratulate Paul Hudson with his recent blog!

  • Comment number 11.

    Indeed Netweather look to have called June rather wrongly, though Netweather have issued an amended forecast admitting that they got June wrong and explained why. Many of their recent longer range forecasts have been really quite accurate overall I've found. They have got it rather wrong for June this time but I don't think it's right to suggest Netweather is one of those organisations that sweep these things under the carpet and try to claim success.

    I feel I have to say, Weather12 who posted above has come on to the NW forums and spent a few days writing tens of posts attacking LRF's and even being insulting to people, while claiming to be a trained forecaster but writing in a way that would rather damage the reputation of such forecaster. I may be wrong but I'm not sure where you're comments have been censored Weather12, there are lots of posts from you saying that same point on the forum. Unless some were rude/insulting to people where I expect they would have been deleted.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    1. sensiblechucky; and 5. Gadgetfiend:

    Apparently Joe Bastardi's "analysis is often second to none", and Piers Corbyn's prediction re this summer "is so far spot on"?

    What is it about these guys that I'm missing? I feel like the boy who points out that the emperor(s) is/are in fact naked after all. Am I taking crazy pills here, or is it you two?

    Both of these men have made outrageously wrong predictions re both climate and weather over the past few years. For instance Bastardi predicted that the US south east would have a mild, dry winter 2010/11 - it had its coldest and wettest in living memory. His hopelessly inaccurate forecast is preserved on the 'Accuweather' web-site for all to see.

    Corbyn confidently stated that 'global warming is over, global cooling has begun' in September 2008 - there followed a series of record breaking temperatures and the warmest 18 month period in the instrument record.

    Everyone is entitled to their view on this pair and their ilk; personally I see them as the worst sort of snake oil salesmen (though I'm not suggesting they don't believe themselves what they're saying). You might as well get a crystal ball or throw darts at random predictions pinned to a cork board as take anything they have to say seriously.

    Only my opinion.

  • Comment number 14.

    "I would like to make this point (which was heavily censored, followed by myself being banned from the netweather forum)... "

    I've also been banned from TwoWeather for espousing sceptical opinions. Follow the money. They don't like to pee off their "green energy" advertisers do they?

    This blog is so "unexpected" from Paul, isn't it? I mean, every piece of news is at the moment. That is unless you disregard the mainstream media who want to tell you how to think.

    This summer was perfectly predictably. It woz the sun wot did it.

    Too simple that though for the PhD educated computer model fiddlers.

  • Comment number 15.

    Couldn't agree with you more PingoSan...!

  • Comment number 16.


    I subscribe to weather actions forecasts. The only month that was badly wrong was February when they said the severe cold would continue and it didn't. March and April were forecast dry months ago and the wet weather at the end of May, and poor June also predicted.

    Why can't we get long range predictions like this from the Met Office?

  • Comment number 17.

    Looks like Netweather are conducting damage limitation, it seems posts 11 & 12 which were readable yesterday evening and were critical of netweather have now been referred to the moderators!

  • Comment number 18.

    16. Gadgetfiend:

    But April is nearly always the driest month in the UK. If I were to make a weather 'prediction' to sell to someone I would start by saying 'April is likely to be dry'. I have a much better than average chance of getting a 'hit' with that than saying it is likely to be wet.

    And May was wet throughout the month in the north-west of the UK, not just towards the end of it. Scotland had its wettest May on record. Did WeatherAction predict that?

    I am just not convinced that a thorough analysis of any of these 'month-ahead' prediction would reveal an accuracy level any higher than what might be expected from chance alone; or be reasonably foreseen on the balance of past weather patterns for the time of year.

    I would be interested if a peer review study of the accuracy of these 'predictions' exists. Does anyone know of one?

  • Comment number 19.

    It does look as if the Netweather summer forecast has quickly gone off the rails and fair play to them for acknowledging this and modifying this for June. They are probably regretting the link to 1976 now! However their far less well publicized winter forecast was far more accurate but I guess that this has been 'quietly forgotten'.

    Long range forecasts are still in an infancy stage and I do believe that they should be attempted and published in an open manner with the reasoning behind them. It is a pity that the metoffice have decided to no longer publish their long range forecasts after the negative BBQ backlash and also that they never provided any reasoning to their long range forecasts.

    It is easy to criticise a long range forecast, but less easy to produce one - Mr Hudson did you produce one?

    Personally I am happy with the grass turning back to green and have a full water butt for a very long time. Let's hope that if the summer does mimic 1976 that it does so when the kids are off school!

  • Comment number 20.

    Where has the Global warming gone? Nigel Lawson did a really interesting article on this in todays Daily Mail. I stopped believing in Global warming after an appearance on TV by Nigel Lawson in 2006, he blamed Margaret Thatcher for causing much of the proganda. I dread to think what our fuel costs will be next winter and I can imagine it being a lot worse than the last. These so called University educated people, who come up with all this Global warming dribble, ought to come down from their ivory towers and live in the real world. Following the leader, without using your common sense, will lead this country into a disaster.

  • Comment number 21.

    20. timawells wrote:

    "Where has the Global warming gone?"

    Hard to know where to start. OK, all the major global temperature data bases confirm that the surface has been warming at a rate of around 0.15 C per decade over the past 30 years. There is no dispute about that. So global warming is still here, whether or not you consider it to be significant.

    Turning to the Lawson article: The GWPF's "devastating analysis" amounted to nothing more than an opinion piece on climate science written by a non-scientist and Trustee of the foundation, published by an openly neo-liberal think tank, and which incorporated at least one deeply discredited and misleading chart, as discussed here a few weeks ago.

    Ignoring the rights and wrongs of the climate debate, Turnbull's opinion piece was anything but a 'devastating analysis' of climate science, other than in Lawson's head.

    I'm not really interested in the economic or political debate around climate change, but the statement "For the UK, responsible for 2 per cent of global emissions, to go it alone is futile folly" is one that is repeated in the US, Canada, Australia and in every other major CO2 emitting country.

    The analogy, it seems to me, is of someone on a sinking boat refusing to help bail out the water unless the guy at the front does so too. It is not a coherent argument in my view.

  • Comment number 22.

    #21. newdwr54 wrote:
    "Hard to know where to start. OK, all the major global temperature data bases confirm that the surface has been warming at a rate of around 0.15 C per decade over the past 30 years. There is no dispute about that. So global warming is still here, whether or not you consider it to be significant."
    No, you are again confusing what has happened over the last 30 years with what has happened over the last 10 years.
    You may say that 10 years is too short a time to draw any conclusions and I probably agree, but the fact remains that there has been no warming (actually by some measures slight cooling) over the last decade.
    The correct approach is to say that it has warmed over the last 30 years, but ALL OF THAT was in the first 20 years.

  • Comment number 23.

    Summer 76 ended with violent thunder storms. But you may be too young to remember. Were you around then?

    Many Junes are wet but this helps grain crops to fill out which helps maintain food supplies in the UK and stable prices. (We hope)

  • Comment number 24.

    John I remember 1976 well. I went on a camping holiday with my family to Bournemouth. My dad got a flat and had to change the spare, the tarmac was that warm, that the jack sank into the road and damaged my dad first new car. At the time they were talking about a mini ice age. Going on from that. I just wish people would realise that the sun and its orbit are the main factor for temperature variation and not man. Statistics can be made to say what you want them to say. Personally the University of life is the best place to gain a degree, because you use your own common sense and learn from feedback you receive. Our emissions a year are less than the increase each year in China, so if Global warming by man was even true, our action would make little difference and is crippling the UK's manufacturing base. All our current leaders and opposition leaders had public school education and don't seem to have a clue about real life. I prefer a chairman who started at the bottom of the ladder and climbed the ladder, not somebody who was handed it on a plate and has no respect for the average man or woman.

  • Comment number 25.

    #21. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "The analogy, it seems to me, is of someone on a sinking boat refusing to help bail out the water unless the guy at the front does so too. It is not a coherent argument in my view."
    A good analogy I think, but not quite right.
    I would say it's like a single person in a boat refusing to bail out when none of the others are, and a single person won't make any difference anyway.
    Having said that, I am not terribly impressed by Lawson either.
    Not sure what his qualifications are but as far as the climate is concerned, he is no more qualified than I am. Actually M. Thatcher was at least a scientist AND I believe, according to some reports, quite sceptical on climate change. She may have set out to destroy the coal industry, but I think that was more about revenge for what the miners had done in the past.

  • Comment number 26.

    Post 25. Quaesoveritas. You don't have to be a scientist to understand how the weather works, common sense is all you need. I happened to do an HNC in industrial measurment and control, which can be applied as much to weather, as control systems in manufacturing processes. But knowledge gained in education is only part of the equation to being an educated person, I know many educated people who never gained any formal qualifications. I know many people with formal education, who aren't very intelligent. Margaret Thatcher using Global warming research as an excuse to shut down the coal industry in this country was totally vindictive, which Nigel Lawson brought to the service. I hope the country eventually recovers from the damage that she did and that we build an economy that is split between service and manufacturing. In order to do this, we will have to be as efficient as possible, use energy wisely and invent new processes and ideas. Global warming by man has to be likened to not walking on the cracks in the pavement, like when we were children and needs to be eradicated from our minds.

  • Comment number 27.

    “Where has the Global Warming gone”

    One explanation comes from the Space special interest group of Mensa.
    The largest effect on weather patterns is the Hale Magnetic Solar Cycle, especially during low solar activity. The Hale Magnetic Cycle is a climate oscillation or long scale weather event that lasts four solar cycles or an average of 44 years but does not effect long term climate change as the effect evens out over four solar cycles. This is caused by the Suns magnetic polarity changing every two solar cycles allowing an increase and decrease of cosmic rays as the Earths magnetic poles line up with the Galactic magnetic field. A positive north pole of the Sun leads to an open heliosphere where cosmic rays reach the Earth more easily. This oscillation causes the Earths weather to alternate between a cooling phase and a warming phase every two Solar cycles, these phases have caused both an Ice age scare at the end of the 1970s and the current more serious and much more expensive global warming scare which is continuing today despite the current cooling phase. A one percent decrease in cosmic rays causes a 0.13 Kelvin increase in global temperature.

    Another explanation comes from New Zealand where the national temperature record of Global Warming turned out to be nothing more than adjustments to data made by someone from the University of East Anglia (see the website below).


  • Comment number 28.

    Paul, I know what netweather have been predicting .. but only last week - and we did have a few hot days last week - the BBC weather site (through I guess the met Office) were predicting that high pressure would settle in throughout June!! Who actually knows what the weather will be a few weeks in advance, certainly not the Met Office it seems. Anyway we seem to have very nice springs these days before everything goes pear shaped by the early summer - I wonder if this is a pattern of change now.

  • Comment number 29.

    @27 paulcottingham

    Has that dastardly scientist adjusted every record including the satellites? Or are the new zealand sceptics mistaken... oops they are mistaken and don't understand the process of forming a continuous record from weather stations...

  • Comment number 30.

    22. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "...you are again confusing what has happened over the last 30 years with what has happened over the last 10 years."

    There is no doubt that the rate of warming has slowed in the past 10 years. It has effectively 'plateaued' at an exceptionally high level. We have discussed the reasons why this might be. We have agreed that natural variation caused by solar input and ocean cycles play a part in climate, and I believe that reduced solar input especially has played a part in the recent slow down.

    However, as you predicted, I am going to say that climate needs to be assessed on periods longer than a decade. If we have at least 30 years of data, then statistically, as you know, that is the best place to start.

    Looking back at the longer term climate records, such as HadCRUT3, you can see several periods where there were dips and plateaus; but ultimately, over periods of 30 years, you can see that the overall 'trend' is relentlessly upwards. Since the mid 1970s not only has the 30 year trend been upwards, the 30 year average has never once dipped.

  • Comment number 31.

    25. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "I would say it's like a single person in a boat refusing to bail out when none of the others are, and a single person won't make any difference anyway."

    Nevertheless, my inclination would be to bail. I suspect that once the situation becomes more apparent, that will be the inclination of everyone on board also.

    Let's hope it isn't too late by that stage?

  • Comment number 32.

    "Nevertheless, my inclination would be to bail. I suspect that once the situation becomes more apparent, that will be the inclination of everyone on board also."

    Doubt it. . . . they'll more likely fight over the bits that are worth clinging onto!

  • Comment number 33.

    Probably right lateintheday. It's a bit late in the day (sorry), but at last we agree on something.

    That's progress.

  • Comment number 34.

    Just to add to John Cogger's comment at #29 regarding the New Zealand temperature data..........

    We have discussed this before. Last year NIWA reviewed their methods in a peer reviewed article, which confirmed that the earlier adjustments applied by Dr Salinger were indeed correct. You can read more about it here:


    As John stated, the problem here was that those attcking NIWA simply didn't understand the adjustment procedure.


  • Comment number 35.

    Do you think the Environment agency (Drought order people) and Netweather (heatwave people) have seen the latest Met Office rainfall radar and forecast for the next 30 days. (Weather actions forecast is also for a poor June) A few red faces?


  • Comment number 36.

    16. Gadgetfiend

    Weather action forecasts must be good if you are willing to pay for them !

    However I'm not sure about the wet weather at the end of May you refer to. Here in Lincolnshire we had one wet day ( yes just the one when 8mm fell at Waddington on BH Monday ). I wouldn't call that a wet end to May and despite this we only had about 50% of the average for the month which is no doubt why the drought order was introduced.

    So far in June Waddington has only received 6mm of rain but looking out of the window it's making up for it today !

    Of course you can't really pass judgement on Weather Actions Forecast for June until the 1st July has arrived although I take your point that the next two weeks look bleak as predicted by themselves and the Met Office.

    One final comment about weather action. Many years ago a shop in Keswick used to have in its window the latest monthly forecast from weather action ( Not sure they still do ) but more often than not it was totally the opposite from reality which is one reason I wouldn' pay for any of their forecasts.

  • Comment number 37.

    To all who have faith in LR forecast "gurus".

    Please see my LR weather forecast for summer (based on a hunch), in "Summer 2011 set to be a scorcher blog?"!

    Well - so far, so good - more or less!

  • Comment number 38.


    I stumbled across this article at WUWT (oh no! I hear you cry) about 3 or 4 threads down which you may find interesting. Amongst other things it refers to how quickly weather predictions break down and why. Snippet below.

    "Edward Lorenz estimated that the global weather exhibited a Lyapunov exponent equivalent to one bit of information every 4 days. This is an average over time and the world’s surface. There are times and places where weather is much more chaotic, as anyone who lives in England can testify. What this means though, is that if you can predict tomorrows weather with an accuracy of 1 degree C, then your best prediction of the weather on average 5 days hence will be +/- 2 degrees, 9 days hence +/-4 degrees and 13 days hence +/- 8 degrees, so to all intents and purposes after 9-10 days your predictions will be useless. Of course, if you can predict tomorrow’s weather to +/- 0.1 degree, then the growth in errors is slowed, but since they grow exponentially, it won’t be many days till they become useless again.

    Interestingly the performance of weather predictions made by organisations like the UK Met office drop off in exactly this fashion. This is proof of a positive Lyapunov exponent, and thus of the existence of chaos in weather, if any were still needed."

    Quite frankly, it looks long range forecasting has to rely on analogue years for starting conditions to have any chance at all. Even then, the forecasters choice of weather drivers in any particular analogue year must be extremely subjective. Whilst not wishing to undermine the hard work involved in producing long range forecasts, I can't help thinking that 'old housewife tales' will probably be as accurate.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi LITD,

    Yes, long term weather predictions are a bit of a mixed bag.

    I still think a peer reviewed analysis of these studies might reveal that the 'predictions' turn out to be no better or worse than you would expect from an informed guess.

  • Comment number 40.

    Well it has to be said, Netweather's 'core summer heat in June' is going down a treat today... radiators on because it's so chilly, along with pouring rain outside!



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