How predictable are European winters?

The Met Office says it’s cracked seasonal forecasting – I’ll believe it when I see it.

We can all now breathe a collective sigh of relief, because the Met Office now think that the NAO index is highly predictable. All they now have to do is to apply what they’ve found about how to forecast it to their long-range forecasts and they will have cracked that age old problem of what will the weather be like during the coming few months. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be able to do that with any precision or accuracy at the moment, so we will still have to put up with forecasts like this month ahead one they produced for July:

Courtesy of the UKMO

Here’s an example of how to shoot yourself in the foot with claims like this. In July the Met Office were expecting above average temperatures, unfortunately this never materialised and daytime temperatures have been a little below average for much of the month (perhaps the next two days will give them a late boost). The thermograph from Benson in Oxfordshire is fairly typical for most of England this July.

You might detect just a hint of cynicism in this piece, but I’ll believe the Met Office have improved their seasonal forecasts when I see it. If their latest three month outlook for autumn 2020 is an example of their new improved accuracy I still think they have a very long way to go if they think that anyone – including contingency planners – can get extract anything valuable out of this.

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