All change with first taste of winter possible next week

Wednesday 8 January 2014, 15:33

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

Forty-eight hours can be a long time in weather forecasting, and since I wrote my blog on Monday there’s been a growing trend for colder air to start influencing our weather from the near continent next week.


The award for the biggest flip-flop goes to the American GFS model which has performed an impressive volte-face in the last forty-eight hours.


As I’ve explained before, each model is run many times, with slightly different initial atmospheric conditions.


This allows forecasters to judge how likely a particular scenario is; in other words it gives us a level of confidence.


Currently, around sixty percent of the solutions from the European (ECMWF) model suggest that cold air from the east will win the battle against the milder Atlantic air that has been with us for virtually the whole of winter so far.


For other models the percentage of cold solutions is around fifty percent.


So at this stage although colder weather next week is more likely than not,  it’s by no means a done deal and caution is required – particularly in light of the big jump from the GFS model since Monday.


In my twenty years as a forecaster I have seen many a cold easterly scenario turn into a figment of the computer’s imagination, with a flip-flop the other way to a milder scenario always a possibility.


That said, the European model is often the most reliable, and there has been a definite trend towards this colder scenario in the last few runs of computer models.


Whatever the final outcome, next week is likely to cause real headaches for forecasters, trying to determine just which air-mass will win, and where the battle between cold and mild air takes place.


Where that battle takes place, there will be a risk of some snow.


And let’s not forget, there will also be a risk of heavy rain, which could further exacerbate the flooding situation affecting parts of the UK.


So changes are afoot, but there’s still much uncertainty which could last for a few days yet.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    That's the thing with weather, as soon as one makes a public pronouncement it starts to go the other way :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    If we get south easterlies in 6-7 days' time, with rain in south west UK and some snow in north east UK, the question in my mind is - IS there any real cold air on the European continent just now? The Met Office 15 day forecast as of today still only mentions snow on northern hills. As for easterlies, it's February rather than January when these tend to be more likely on average.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Another weather blogger in similar vein (I expect the Daily Express will be warning of snowdrifts on the front page sometime before this week is out, probably on tomorrow's front page - before the chance of the cold weather recedes if that is what is going to happen):

    I am still rather sceptical of any significant cold weather in the UK for the foreseeable future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    If that GFS gets further up North Ibuprofen is good for colds

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    @ 2 & 3 ashleyhr

    I'm inclined to agree about your Feb thoughts - in the past where westerly has dominated for so long the lack of resident cold air in the near continent could well be under-estimated by models.

    Having said that, I'm not sure any model consistently excels when it comes to change of type. The latest gfs lets the cold air in 14/15 but has the westerly back around the 21/22. If the confidence of the first change is c50% the second change a week later may be very low indeed.

    This is what synoptic weather is all about - excitement and the unpredictabillity, despite all the so called 'knowns' of modern life.


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Hello, I’m Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. 

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I worked as a forecaster with the Met Office for nearly 15 years locally and at the international unit, after graduating with first class honours in Geophysics and Planetary physics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992. I then joined the BBC in October 2007, where I divide my time between forecasting and reporting on stories about climate change and its implications for people's everyday lives.

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