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2016 has been warm so far

Can this tell us anything about the future?

Posted Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:00

Central England Temperature (CET) have been above average for most of 2016 so far. Can this tell us anything about the coming months? 

Year to date

The table below shows monthly the Central England Temperatures (CET) anomalies up to September 23rd. The important thing to note is that only April was colder than average and only by -0.4C. March was close to average with an anomaly of 0.1C but the other months have mostly been just over 1C warmer than average and currently September is a whopping 2.7C than the average. 

Month CET Anomaly
January 5.4 1.6
February 4.9 1.1
March 5.8 0.1
April 7.5 -0.4
May 12.5 1.4
June 15.3 1.1
July 16.9 0.8
August 17.0 1.2
September (to the 23rd) 16.5 2.7

Source: UK Met Office

Is this significant?

Obviously this data points to the past but can it be useful as a forward indicator? I think it can. Persistence has value in weather forecasting. Why? The reason is the forcing mechanisms (which in this case have caused the warmer than average conditions) often last for long periods and can lead to similar anomalies continuing for a long time.

The scenario I've outlined above is very plausible so we could well see most of the months during the next year turning out to be warmer than average. I'll throw in a couple of caveats. One of the known factors is ENSO and the very strong El Nino which occurred last year and through the winter has now faded away. ENSO neutral conditions are expected in the coming months and this should increase the chances of colder periods during the first half of the winter. The other point to bear in mind is that a month which comes out as close to average may mask massive variations, for example, two weeks of very cold weather followed by 2 weeks of very mild weather. 

Summary

Discount the predominance of warmer than average months this year at your peril. Persistence has value in weather forecasting.  

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