Bonfire Night 2023 weather

Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, is an annual British tradition celebrated on November 5th. It commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Unfortunately, the weather at this time of the year can be very fickle!
Fireworks display in London
Fireworks in the city
31st October 2023

The weather in the UK on recent Bonfire Nights has been a mixed bag. In 2022, it was wet and windy, while in 2021 it was dry and mild with high pressure centred to the south. In 2020 high pressure was also in control, but the UK was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and many Bonfire Night events were cancelled.

This year November 5th falls on a Sunday. Therefore, the majority of firework displays are scheduled for either Saturday or Sunday. What weather can we expect this year?

Will the weekend be a washout?

The weather has been very unsettled in recent weeks. Unfortunately, things are set to deteriorate in the short term as Storm Ciarán brings disruptive wind and rain to large parts of the United Kingdom. Although it is expected to depart the UK before the Bonfire weekend, other areas of low pressure in the Atlantic look set to be heading in our direction. The details are uncertain.

Showers or longer spells of rain on Saturday?

A deep area of low pressure is forecast to be pushing in from the west on Saturday. It leads to a risk of showers or longer spells of rain across much of the UK, but details about its track, intensity and arrival time are still to be resolved. These will have a big impact on how things look on Saturday evening.   

The chart below shows the rain forecasts from the runs in the MOGREPS-G ensemble computer model at 18:00 GMT, Saturday 4th November. An ensemble model is run many times to show the different possible outcomes at a given time, with the key being to identify the most probable one.

On this chart rain looks most likely close to the south coast and over parts of northern England. Although quite a few of the runs show it being mostly dry in Scotland, Wales and central England, it is too early to be confident for the reasons outlined above.

MOGREPS rain forecasts for Saturday 4th November
Rain forecasts, 18 GMT, 4th November

Showery weather on Sunday?

During Sunday low pressure will probably be pulling away northeastwards, suggesting a better chance of dry periods, with rain likely to be more showery in nature.

The MOGREPS-G chart below shows the rain forecasts at 18:00 GMT, Sunday 5th November. A lot of the runs are showing dry conditions in much of the UK. However, computer models aren't always very good at picking up showery spells of rain at this range.

UKV fog forecast for Halloween
Rain forecasts, 18 GMT, 5th November

Could strong winds be an issue?

Another important consideration for fireworks displays is the strength of winds. With deep areas of low pressure close to the UK there is the potential for windy conditions in places on both Saturday and Sunday. The strongest winds will be on the flanks of the low pressure areas with quieter conditions close to its centre. Therefore, its track will be crucial and significant differences are likely over relatively short distances. 

The chart below shows forecast wind gusts at 18:00 GMT on  Saturday 4th November. Most of the runs are showing the strongest winds close to the south coast and in parts of the north. The suggestion is that low pressure will be centred over central areas, where lighter winds are likely. 

MOGREPS wind gust forecasts for Saturday 4th November
Wind gust forecasts, 18 GMT, 4th November

On Sunday, the area of low pressure will probably be pulling away northeastwards. If that is the case wind speeds are likely to be lower in the English Channel, but somewhat higher over central areas.

In summary, the Bonfire weekend is expected to bring unsettled weather. A deep area of low pressure will push eastwards, but the details are still subject to change. It means that showers or longer spells of rain are likely in large parts of the UK, but the chance of dry conditions on the whole may be greater on Sunday. Strong winds are also a possible issue. 

Temperatures aren't expected to be a big consideration. The potential for cloud, wind and rain means values won't drop too far, although it could be colder in Scotland. Nonetheless, it is November so it won't be feeling warm. 

Remember to keep up to date with the short range forecasts (use the forecast bar in the header to select your location) for the latest view.

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