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Spring 2018 weather

Late to start?


10/02/2018

The meteorological spring

The meteorological spring runs from March 1st to May 31st. At the start of the season cold weather is a risk and March often brings more snow than December, but by May genuine warmth is possible.

Winter 2017/18 has been mixed with snow more widespread than in recent years. Temperatures in the north of the UK have been closer to the average and some locations are likely to record a colder than average winter. In the south it has been milder.

The December Central England Temperature (CET) was close to the norm and January was mild. The first third of February has been cold and the indications are that temperatures will often be below the average during rest of the month.     

Spring view

Cold start to spring?

A Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) event taking place at the moment is expected to impact the weather across the northern hemisphere during the coming weeks. The SSW increases the chance of blocks of cold Arctic air being displaced to mid latitude locations such as the UK and they can persist well into the spring despite the lengthening days. 

Therefore there is considered to be an increased chance of cold weather continuing during March with the likelihood of widespread frosts and snow at times. In the longer term things become more mixed according to seasonal forecast models.

The C3S multi system which takes inputs from the ECMWF, UK Met Office and Meteo France seasonal models indicates temperatures over the March, April and May period taken as a whole will be above average. However other models such as Jamstec suggest a colder than average spring. The International Research Institute (IRI) model shows no temperature anomalies meaning the chance of spring being cold, mild or close to average is equally likely.

C3S multi system sesasonal forecast 2m temp anomaly

C3S multi-system seasonal forecast Mean 2m temperature anomaly, March, April and May

Wet or dry?

The precipitation signal is mixed. The C3S combined mean suggests close to average amounts of rain but it covers up differences between the Meteo France, ECWMF and UK Met Office components. They break down like this:

Meteo France compared to the average: Drier in the south and wetter in the north.
ECWMF compared to the average: Drier in the north west and close to normal in the south.
UK Met Office compared to the average: Wetter in the north west but no signal in much of the south and east.

The Jamstec model suggests a drier than average spring in the north west and a close to normal one elsewhere. The
latest International Research Institute (IRI) update has anomalies varying across the UK and doesn't offer clear guidance.

Summary

At this stage above average temperatures during April and May are expected to be enough to offset the below average ones considered likely in March. The precipitation signal is weaker and inconsistent between seasonal models.

Tentative suggestions for this spring are:

1) Over the 3 month period temperatures are more likely to be above average than below average

2) The rainfall signal is weak

3) Despite the likelihood of above average temperatures over the three month period, there is an increased probability of colder conditions early in the spring

The TWO seasonal forecast will be updated to cover the spring months on February 28th.

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