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Winter is coming

Winter 2017/18 update 3



For more context and background information please read:

"Winter 2017/18 weather, Forecast pointers" issued on July 25th 2017

"UK winter 2017/18 - Update 2", issued 13th September 2017

"Winter 2017/18 - Update 4", issued 18th November 2017

The information here is intended to provide an update on developments.

Snow in Berkhamsted

September and October

September brought spells of wet weather and the Central England Temperature (CET) finished 0.2C below the average. When producing the winter forecast the September weather patterns are considered. A cool and cyclonic month is counted as a weak factor in favour of a colder winter. It is important to emphasise that a correlation between warm Septembers and milder than average winters is not accepted by many, but the TWO view is that it has existed in recent decades.   

October has been a mild month with mixed conditions. Storms Ophelia and Brian brought disruption but there has also been a good deal of quiet and benign periods. The CET to the 29th is a mild 2.2C above the average. The October weather patterns will be counted as a weak factor in favour of a colder winter.

Seasonal model updates

The picture from seasonal models which cover December, January and February is more mixed.

UK Met Office GloSea:
Milder and wetter than average favoured.

Milder than average, especially in the south. Drier than average.

No signal for temperature (meaning all outcomes are equally likely). Weak signal for a drier than average season in the north west and south east.

CFS v2
Mixed but current updates hint at the possibility of colder conditions in January and February. (Check the latest CFS v2 charts on TWO).

The Russian and Chinese seasonal models suggest an increased chance of cold conditions.

The key things to note since the last update are:

GloSea is consistent.

Jamstec suggests a milder than average season in all of the UK and a drier one too.

IRI strongly favours an anomalously mild winter in Greenland. That often means an increased likelihood of cold weather in western Europe.

Note: The skill level of seasonal models for the UK and north western Europe remains low. In other words they are not very accurate.

Indexes and teleconnections

See the July update for more background information.

North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)

Possibly close to neutral this winter. That suggests a reasonable chance of colder outbreaks.

Quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO)

The QBO is currently in a negative (easterly) phase and that is expected to continue through the rest of the autumn and winter. If that is the case the chance of a colder winter would be slightly increased.

Berkhamsted snow, December 2009

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

La Niña conditions are favored (~55-65%) during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2017-18. If that is the outcome the chance of a colder than average winter would be increased.

Solar Activity

Since the last update activity has been low but the next solar minimum is not expected until 2019 or 2020. There is a suggestion that colder winters are more likely to occur in the UK shortly after a solar minimum is reached. However a "quiet" sun arguably leads to an increased chance of colder winters. 


It remains too early for a clear signal for winter 2017/18 to emerge. However the TWO view is that since the September update the chances of colder than average conditions have increased. Another update will be published in mid-November but at this stage the TWO view is the chance of a colder winter is significantly higher than in recent years.

Regular updates will be issued before the TWO winter forecast is released at the end of November.

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