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Spring prospects

Warmer than average?


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 2018/19 has been mixed. December was mild overall but January temperatures were very close to the 30 year average. Snow has been in shorter supply than last winter, but late January and the start of February saw wintry conditions affecting much of the UK. Unusually some of the heaviest falls were in southern England with parts of Hampshire seeing level depths of over 15cm.

At the moment there are indications of milder spells in February. The TWO forecast is for a milder than average month but there is a lot of uncertainty. The chance of a much colder easterly wind developing remains.

Spring view

Very uncertain spring outlook

A Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) event took place earlier in the winter and there were suggestions that it could be followed by a repeat of last winter's Beast From East cold spell. That hasn't happened so far but medium range computer models suggest the possibility of cold spell in February or March should not be discounted. Another factor favouring a cold end to the winter is the probability of a weak El Nino, which is believed to increase the risk of high pressure blocking.

The seasonal computer models paint a mixed picture for the March, April and May period taken as a whole.

The C3S multi system which takes inputs from the ECMWF, UK Met Office, Meteo France, CMCC and DWD seasonal models indicates no significant temperatures anomalies. There isn't a strong precipitation signal either.

The Beijing Climate Center suggests a slightly warmer and wetter than average spring.

The Canadian CanSIPS model suggests a slightly warmer and drier than average spring possibly turning wetter later on.  

The International Research Institute (IRI) model also shows no temperature anomalies.

The Japanese Jamstec model is forecasting a colder than average spring with drier conditions relative to the average in the north west and the opposite in the south east.

The UK Met Office seasonal model favours near normal temperatures and a slightly increased chance of a wetter than average spring.

Met Office GloSea forecast temperatures anomalies, Dec, Jan Feb
Met Office GloSea forecast precipitation anomalies, Dec, Jan Feb

UK Met Office GloSea5 March, April and May forecast temperature and precipitation anomalies


At this stage temperatures during March, April and May are considered slightly more likely to be above average than below. However, the signal from the seasonal models and recent climatology is weak. The precipitation signal is also mixed.

Tentative suggestions for the coming spring are:

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

2) There isn't a strong rainfall signal but a slightly wetter than average season is weakly favoured

3) Early in the season there is an increased risk of cold spells

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

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