Cold spell ends before it’s even begun

I hate NWP sometimes. So often during a winter do we see the models forecasting the end of a cold spell before it’s even begun. So it is with this one, cold air will take a hold in the north on Thursday and eventually by the weekend will have spread to all parts. Then the anticyclone aligned north-south will topple southward (doesn’t it always) to allow milder atlantic air and an increasing westerly gradient across northern areas, and eventually (according to the latest ECMWF forecast at any rate) to the south by next Thursday. Yes they’ll be night frosts and a little snow on the mountains in the north, and even some freezing fog in the south, but the white of that hoar frost may well be the only white they see in places in the southwest this winter.

Freely adapted from the original by ECMWF

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

What a poor product the above chart from the ECMWF at Reading is, or does their NWP now originate from northern Italy now? The five millibar isobar spacing lets you know the whole thing is run by the ‘Europeans’ (or should that be the Germans?). They helpfully overlay the 850 hPa wind speeds on top as coloured contours. Why did it have to be 850 hPa wind speed and not something vaguely useful such as rainfall accumulations or surface temperature? I ask you what use are 5,000 ft wind speeds (in metres per second of course) for the next ten days? Not only that, the above chart is the highest resolution map of the UK that you’ll find on their website, or for any other European country that willingly chips in the tens of millions of Euros for their annual upkeep. On top of all that the staff at Reading for the last thirty odd years have never paid any UK Income Tax either. But to be fair their NWP models are well regarded around the world, and I suppose they do at least publish a small subset of their NWP output, unlike some other Met services around the world – mentioning no names!

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