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« GWPF calls for inquiry into Met Office | Main | Quote of the day »

Winter resilience

With the whole of the UK apparently grinding to a halt with the cold and snow, it was interesting to be pointed to an official review of the UK's winter resilience capabilities (H/T John B).

A small team was set up under the leadership of Dr David Quarmby, a member of the "great and good" with background in transport. The team published its terms of reference here; an interim report was published last summer, and the final report appeared just a couple of months ago.

For our purposes the interim report is more interesting since it has a whole section entitled "Weather forecasting and climate change". All emphasis below is added by me.

12.7 The science of forecasting up to 30 days ahead and beyond has made great progress in recent years and will continue to develop; comparison of outturns against probabilistic predictions out to 30 days suggests that the information is of increasing value for winter service resourcing and planning.

"Increasing value" eh? I wonder what the absolute value of these forecasts is though?

12.8 The Met Office has ceased publishing seasonal forecasts through the PWS, because – again – the nature of the weather and climate means that at these timescales it only makes sense to give probabilistic predictions rather than definitive forecasts, and this has proved difficult to communicate.

"Difficult to communicate"? Don't they mean that they were wrong? I'm struggling with the idea of a "barbeque summer" that turned into a rain-drenched washout being a communication problem.

12.9 Yet, as this Review makes clear, critical policy and strategic decisions would be enormously enhanced by even a probabilistic prediction about next winter’s weather. Forecasting over this timescale and beyond takes us into the area of climate forecasting and the impact of climate change.

12.10 We have explored these issues in some depth with the climate research team at the Met Office Hadley Centre. The starting point is the slow but steady rise in average global temperatures. The consensus on the UK is that on average summers will become warmer, and winters will become warmer and wetter, though the next 10–15 years may be dominated by natural variability. When severe weather events happen they may be more extreme in terms of heat and rainfall.

Aha! So the Met Office were involved, and told the review that winters were going to become warmer and wetter. What else did they say?

12.11 Although the probability of severely cold winters in the UK is gradually declining, there is currently no evidence to suggest similar changes in extremes of snow, winds and storms in the UK.

12.12 We have also explored whether or not the occurrence of two successive severe winters influences the probability of a third in succession – in other words, is there any evidence of clustering? There is some small influence from year to year but these matters are still very uncertain and it would be safer to assume that there is statistical independence between one winter and the next.

12.13 In other words, we are advised to assume that the chance of a severe winter in 2010–11 is no greater (or less) than the current general probability of 1 in 20.

Now didn't the Met Office tell us just yesterday that they didn't make any predictions on the weather for this winter? I would have thought many people might have mistaken the words highlighted above as discussing a forecast of some kind. Perhaps it's another of those communication difficulties.

12.14 For the purpose of this report, the following summarises what we understand:

  • The probability of the next winter being severe is virtually unrelated to the fact of just having experienced two severe winters, and is still about 1 in 20.
  • The effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK.
  • However, when severe winters come, they could still be extreme – in terms of snowfall, wind and storms, though not necessarily in relation to temperature.

12.17 But we need to understand and accept that the chance of a severe winter is still relatively small and that there will be many years when some will question the degree of resources committed to winter resilience.

12.15 An important consequence of the declining occurrence of severe winters is the loss of knowledge and experience among planning and technical staff in local highway authorities and their contractors, especially if the severe winters which do occur have more extreme snow events.

12.16 All this, in our view, reinforces the need for comprehensive resilience planning, and for ensuring that the salt supply chain is resilient.

After the publication of the interim review, the team recommended that the UK import 250,000 tonnes of salt to cope with a possible shortfall. I wonder if this was (a) enough and (b) actually done in practice.

Either way, this looks like more trouble for the Met Office.


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Reader Comments (70)

Heads they win , tails you lose , it’s good approach to cover your rear end but it’s of little use in science. Here is my forecast for next winter without a 30 million pound computer, it may be has cold as this winter and they again it may not either possibility is available but which ever one happens will prove me rigth.

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Great catch, Bishop. Very difficult to see the "forest for the trees" in either of these reports. Had I been the executive to whom they sent these reports, I would have sent them back "Unaccepted. Try again."

The biggest gap I see is that there is no attempt to look at all this from a the perspective of "risk" along with doing assessments of the probabilistic nature of not only what would cause impact, but the probabilistic nature of the impacts. Looking at planning activities this way allows better decision making to result in (hopefully, because who really can predict the future?) better actions. I'm not talking about filling in risk assessment forms. I'm talking about management thinking.

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Schneider


The importing of 250,000t of salt was well underway at the beginning of the bad conditions almost a month ago. It was reported that we had less than half of the recommended supply and the rest would be delivered by...


Bear in mind though it is only an emergency stock. For the sake of comparison my county council (North Yorkshire) used 100,000t last winter.

As for forecasts again the Met are playing games. A probabilistic forecast is still a forecast and they are simple enough for reporters to have understood and reported it as another Met expectation of a mild winter. That such forecasts aren't being made to the public shows a distinct lack of faith from the Met in their own products. Could there also be a bet hedging element to it? If the Met say 60-80% chance of a mild winter anything normal or colder can be described as 'unexpected'.

The situation is not that great imo. What we have is councils and Government placing undue faith in Met Office output. They are using it to absolve themselves of the responsibility to keep things running. Councils shouldn't be prepared for averages but for extremes. There is no need for it to be at enormous cost either. Plenty of places pay farmers to clear and grit roads which does away with the need for specialised kit to be sat idle for much of the year.

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

where is the precautionary principle when you need it.
"We can’t know when such a severe winter will hit us again, but we can take steps as a nation, to ensure that when it does, we will cope better. This report highlights the short-term need for national Government and local councils to ensure that they have plans in place, and enough road salt, to deal with the possibility of another severe winter in 2010/11"
Sounds like very good advice.

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Listen to Sir David King on BBC R4 Today program ( He stated, in and amongst, that we had had "a very warm summer" (1 min 20 sec in); "a very hot summer" (about 3 mins 35 sec in); and "climate modelers are becoming extraordinarily sophisticated and our ability to predict weather and climate is improving all the time" (about 4 mins 15 sec in). Just to reassure you, of course.

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

Remember those Barclaycard adverts ?

Aid to help other countries adapt to climate change ........£500million
Budget for Britain to cope with our own climate ..... sorry we can't afford it

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

They're mixing up cause and effect again:

The effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK.

Isn't this a description of climate change - not an effect of it ?

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

The late Keith Waterhouse used to refer mockingly to The Department of Guesswork. He would be pleased to know that it's alive and kicking.

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterFZM

Just been on BBC news an interview with a minister (i think, no idea who he was) and the question of do we need more equipment to better prepare us for these winters...... the answer ''the met office still say this is an 'Extreme Weather Event' and not normal, so there shouldn't be any need to make large scale investment''.
Says it all really.
They can't forcast 5 minutes ahead, get everything wrong but they can tell us down to 0.005 of a degree what the temperature will be in 2150. Their models can't be wrong..... Can they?

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Lisle

As I posted on WUWT yesterday, just look at how this probability stacks up:

"The Met Office were consulted by the UK Department for Transport in a report out in October concerning preparedness of the transport infrastructure for winter. In October they were projecting a warmer than average winter with around 70% confidence. The Met Office advised that there was a 1-in-20 chance of a severe winter this year, or any year. In 2008, then, there was thus a 1-in-8000 chance that we would have three consecutive severe winters. The Met Office complain that the general public don’t understand risk and statistics, but I have to say that I don’t favour 1-in-8000 odds, i.e. the likelihood of three severe winters in a row only likely to occur once every 8000 years. I’m afraid these are actual Met Office statistics. If THEY understand statistics and risk, they should be repenting in dust and ashes by now because those odds are just way too long. Something is driving the weather/climate that they have absolutely no idea about. Now, we know that the models that the Met Office use for climate change projections are the very same models as they use for weather forecasting – you might think they’d be different, but they categorically claim that they are the same.

With odds of 8000:1 I’m prone to question whether there is some bias or tomfoolery going on, and with the Met Office that’s a dead certainty. They are headed up by an eco-fanatic and are part of the UK Ministry of Defence.

Here are some extracts from the DfT report ‘The Resilience of England’s Transport Systems in Winter’ (July and October 2010):

“We have discussed these issues in some depth with the Met Office and their climate research team at the Met Office Hadley Centre…we are advised to assume that the chance of a severe winter in 2010-11 is no greater (or less) than the current general probability of 1 in 20…The probability of the next winter being severe is virtually unrelated to the fact of just having experienced two severe winters, and is still about 1 in 20. The effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK…we need to understand and accept that the chance of a severe winter is still relatively small…the probability of next winter being severe continues to be relatively small.”

Remember – based on the Met Office models (on which the whole climate change scam is based), three severe winters in a row has a probability of 1-in-8000, or 0.0125%. Or, put it the other way, in 2008 the Met Office would have been 99.9875% certain that we would not have three severe winters on the trot. Start looking at these probabilities stacking up and understand that the global warming mantra is a scam.

We are always being reminded that weather is not climate. Fine. But when once-in-8000 year ‘weather’ events turn up you really do have to start asking questions. When the Met Office in their UKCP08 report were projecting much warmer summer and winter temperatures in UK to 70% and 90% confidence, that same year they would have put 99.9875% confidence on there not being three extreme winters on the trot."

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

and it would be safer to assume that there is statistical independence between one winter and the next.

12.13 In other words, we are advised to assume that the chance of a severe winter in 2010–11 is no greater (or less) than the current general probability of 1 in 20.

If, as they say, each winter is independent of the previous winter and the probability of a severe winter is 1 in 20 then we are currently experiencing a 1 in 8000 year occurrence (3 severe winters in a row).
Personally I think that rather than experiencing a 1 in 8000 year occurrence, it is their assumptions that are incorrect.

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The skein that runs through Warmist activities is their consistent lack of personal integrity -- hiding things, altering figures, economy with the truth, deliberate omission, playing the man not the ball.

They need a result, and have abandoned any moral principles in order to secure one.

Fortunately, the universe doesn't reward that kind of behaviour in the long run.

Dec 21, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Steven Connor writes in the Independent:

"Last October, the Met Office warned the Government that Britain is likely to experience a colder-than-average start to the winter."

While it comes at the end of an interview with Julia Slingo, the statement is not attributed to her. It took a couple of readings before I noticed the lack of quotation marks.

So what was Connor's source?

Dec 21, 2010 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

I would be interested in looking at data for the length comparrison of summers and winters in the UK. Anybody know where I could obtain this?

For example the start of winter is normally given as the 21st December but if nature decides to drop a load of snow in November then the winter is early by a month.
It would be useful to see trends for lengths of winters and summers historically.

Dec 21, 2010 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I see old Moonbat is getting a right pasting for his latest comments on cold weather being a sign of global warming.

I like the comments from MiskatonicUniversity who reminded George of what he said previously and what he is saying now.

"Winter is no longer the great grey longing of my childhood. The freezes this country suffered in 1982 and 1963 are - unless the Gulf Stream stops - unlikely to recur." - George Monbiot, 2005.

"There is now strong evidence to suggest that the unusually cold winters of the last two years in the UK are the result of heating elsewhere." - George Monbiot, 2010.

What are the chances of having two severe winters in a row?

400 to 1 according to Dr David Quarmby!

Now the reality of two severe winters coupled with those odds must point to something else than AGW.

Who are the deniers now?

Dec 21, 2010 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

So if the MET don't give weather forecasta can someone tell me what is there point of exsistence again? well other than to lie consistently to the public that funds them.

I've always want to invent a time machine and bring Queen victoria back to her Great Britain.

Dec 21, 2010 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

"the next 10–15 years may be dominated by natural variability"

Just the next 10-15 years? I'd have said eternity...

Dec 21, 2010 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"12.11 Although the probability of severely cold winters in the UK is gradually declining, there is currently no evidence to suggest similar changes in extremes of snow, winds and storms in the UK."

"However, when severe winters come, they could still be extreme – in terms of snowfall, wind and storms"

The severity of this winter has been characterised by very low temperatures and precipitation falling as snow, rather than 'winds' and 'storms'. While the Met Office is suggesting no change / no decline to extremes of 'winds' and 'storms' in the UK, there is no plausible link from such an occurence with man-made climate change. It is worth reminding ourselves that the Met Office's own UK climate projection report UKCIP09 report (p17) attributes any periods of increased storminess to the NAO index, particularly as experienced in the severe stormy periods in the 1920's and 1990's. In the report's own words: "...there continues to be little evidence that the recent increase in storminess in the UK is related to man-made climate change."

Dec 21, 2010 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterWormthatturned


Heard that 'very warm summer' quote this morning and the tea nearly sprayed over the kitchen.

'Very warm'? Where exactly?

Dec 21, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

How interesting. This is exactly the same as the Roy Meadow fallacy - in both cases the assumption was that events were independent and randomly distributed when they weren't. Further proof, if any were needed after Michael Mann's adventures, that amateurs should not be listened to when they opine on matters of probability and statistics.

Dec 21, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Lord Beaverbrook

The Met keep a seasonal and monthly versions of HadCet available here:-

As I try and grow veg and stuff myself I have an interest. The following article gained my attention back in 2006:-

“The hottest year since 1659 spells global doom”

Check out the “growing season chart at the beginning. 14.6C!

“Central England had the warmest ever growing season, surpassing 1959 and 1995. Scientists say the year was probably the warmest on record in central England.”

You maybe interested to know that the 2010 “growing season” average mean was 13.0C, 0.6 lower than 2009 and a full 1.6C lower than 2006.

It would be interesting to know why if the CET was indicative of global warming 4 years ago it is no longer quoted as such.

Hope it helps

Dec 21, 2010 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

I was wondering about the difference between “forecast” and “prediction”. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2007) gives the following definitions.

forecast   noun.
A conjectural estimate, based on present indications, of something in the future, esp. of coming weather; a prediction.

prediction   noun.
The action of predicting future events; an instance of this, a forecast, a prophecy.

Dec 21, 2010 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

Mac "What are the chances of having two severe winters in a row? 400 to 1 according to Dr David Quarmby!"

As I explained above, the situation is worse than that. Back in 2008 the Met Office trumpeted their UKCP08 projections giving high levels of confidence to winter temperatures 50 years out. That same year, what would the Met Office have put the odds at having three cold winters in a row (the report was written on the basis of having already had two)? Well, we now know that they would have given it a probability of 0.0125%, a once-every-8000 years event.

The fact that a mere half a year down the line from UKCP08 we started our once-in-8000 years 'weather' episode should give food for thought at what is going on. If, as they assert, underpinned by warmista thinking, the probability of a severe winter is currently 1-in-20 and the weather events are completely independent from one year to the next (NOTE: this is the assumption that it is weather not climate causing this), then an episode of three independent 'weather' events like this is truly a 1-in-8000 chance.

Someone now needs to calculate what the likelihood of having three severe winters in a row would be on the hypothesis that we are experiencing global cooling (throw in some cool summers rather than the 'barbecue' ones to boot) - much, much shorter odds, of course. I don't know what that is, but for argument's sake say 1-in-8 on the basis that in a cooling world there is a 50% likelihood each year of a cold winter. Substitute any odds you prefer, it won't make a lot of difference to the argument: you can see where this is going - the likelihood that this is a global cooling event rather than freak weather could well be coming out at 99.9% confidence, i.e. 0.1% chance that it's merely the weather. Substitute whatever figures you like, the odds are enormously in favour of cooling and against global warming. It's climate and not weather, folks, and the climate is heading back to cooler times, just as they expected back in the 1960s and 1970s before this man-hating CO2 nonsense was hatched.

Dec 21, 2010 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

ScientistForTruth, suggesting a warmist bias at the Met Office (his first post above), calculates the probability of of three severe winters in a row as being one in 8,000 on the basis of the Met Office calling an annual one in 20 chance of a severe winter.

Some time ago The Air Vent carried an analysis of predictions of global temperature from the Met Office/CRU. I've updated it with the most recent figures from the Met Office. In the last 11 years they have over predicted the temperature of the incoming year 10 times. (It will be 11 out of 12, methinks, by the end of 2010). Here are the figures shown as the temperature anomaly above the 1961-90 average:

year..…forecast…...actual (HadCRUT3)

1999 ..…0.38…………0.26











2010……0.58…………(0.52 Jan - Oct)

I make that an average over prediction of 0.07. (Feel free to correct the maths). Of course, I can't find the original predictions now on the Met office website but the Air Vent post sources the figures used. It looks like a bias to me.

1. Air Vent:
2. Met Office results:
3. My post:

Dec 21, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterCameron Rose

Cameron Rose,

Thanks for that, very interesting.

It looks as though the HadCrut3 Novemeber anomaly has just been released:-

You have to find the "monthly data" link halfway down. If I am reading it correctly Nov was 0.431C making Jan to Nov 0.49C. Though I have a problem with the numbers as Jan to Oct adds up to 0.499 and not the 0.52 that the Met say? Maybe it is the underestimation of SST that was mentioned earlier?

Dec 21, 2010 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Green Sand

Thanks for the links but I already have the temperatures. I was really looking for the length of time in days or weeks for each individual summer and winter.
I could have a stab at it by stipulating that above a certain temperature it's summer and below it's winter and calculate out from the temperature data but who would say at what temperature levels I should set these limits?

I just thought that there may be some official data or graph that defines the start of summer and winter for individual years in relation to that years weather rather than a date on a calendar.

Much appreciated though.

Dec 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Thanks LB,

I understand now, should concentrate more! I do not know of anything other than the seasonal

DJF - Winter
MAM - Spring
JJA - Summer
SON - Autumn

Though the "growing season" April through October does make sense.

Please let me know if you find anything

Dec 21, 2010 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

The Met Office has a commercial side. Remember the BBC was threatening to ditch the Met and choose another service supplier?

This from the Met's electricity industry sales blurb.

Long term planning
The Met Office provides Monthly Outlook and Seasonal Forecast services. We are at the forefront of weather and climate research and we can help the energy industry with long-term planning and adaptation strategies to climate change.

Dec 21, 2010 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The problem starts with having it backwards.

Averages of the weather determines a climate.

'Climate change' does not determine the weather.

Dec 21, 2010 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub Niggurath

Fake global warming, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul.
(Last link of Banned Book):
America Deceived II (book)

Dec 21, 2010 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteven

*corrected link

Dec 21, 2010 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteven


Budgie has already mentioned the David King interview.

I wonder if you can explore the statement that we in the UK had a "hot summer" this year - made twice in David King's interview on the Today program? Needless to say, none of the interviewers questioned this extraordinary statement - is there anything to back it up?

I couldn't believe it!

Dec 21, 2010 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bailey

So you quote from an interim report published in the summer (and based on evidence largely received in May and June) and claim that a general statement made then was a specific forecast for this year. If this had been made in October or November you might have a point, but you haven't proved anything by saying what you said. In fact as a number of people have alluded to the advice to government in October was a warning about a cold start to winter. But of course this is all over twitter by now so you've done what you wanted.

Dec 21, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterhmc

Technically the summer (June, July, August) was above the 1961-1990 average
June 1.1
July 1.0
August -0.5

Rain and a lack of sunshine don't directly relate to the measureable temperature.

Dec 21, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

@ David Bailey

“the UK had a "hot summer" this year”

The last 10 “summers” – the Met summer is June, July and August are below. They are the mean of the three months. Out of the last 10 years 5 have been warmer than 2010.

2001 – 16.1
2002 – 15.8
2003 – 17.3
2004 – 16.2
2005 – 16.2
2006 – 17.2
2007 – 15.2
2008 – 15.4
2009 – 15.8
2010 – 15.9


Dec 21, 2010 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Shub - you think straight! :-)

Dec 21, 2010 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet


I noticed the story in the Independent that the Met Office warned the government in October to expect a colder-than-average start to the winter. My problem is that it is unattributed. Given the kicking that the Met Office is getting, why didn't Julia Slingo say "We got it right." when she was being interviewed? Why is her Press Office silent? Until I see some confirmation (other than Twitter volumes) I am going to assume I'm being spun.

(If it turns out that the government were warned then I shall kick them instead.)

Dec 21, 2010 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought


The October cold weather warning information comes from David Quarmby's new report published today (note that the Daily Express 'mild winter' story was on 28 October).


Dec 21, 2010 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterhmc

Although not mentioned in the Resilience review, electricity generation now comes centre stage. As any policy on generation types will have to take into account the 1 in 20 chance of severe winter. Indeed, as now being claimed, AGW causes severe winter (thank you for that insight George Monbiot) all policy has to allow for it. I noted in the last few days that wind has contributed at times 0.01% and 0.02% of daily demand. It is therefore apparent by Warmer argument that wind is not a solution to their perceived AGW threat. May I suggest nuclear fills the requirement for CO2 reduction and reliability whereas wind is good only for the former, either when blowing or not.

Dec 21, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Please go to this Met Office page, and look at the prediction for the 2m temperature, made in October 2010 for the period 2-4 months ahead (viz., Dec/Jan/Feb) for Europe.

Met Office were not predicting cold temperatures in October. By November they were though.

Dec 21, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW


Thanks for that link - very interesting. I notice the pages talk about an upgrade to the seasonal forecasting system and says that the October plots are from the old system and the November plots from the new system (which appears to have much better resolution in the stratosphere - probably key in getting these kinds of forecasts right). If this is true then presumably the new system would have been running in test mode for a few months prior to November and it may have been this which triggered the warning to government. I think we've got to take David Quarmby's word for it that a warning was issued in October.

Dec 21, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterhmc

""Difficult to communicate"? Don't they mean that they were wrong?"

Not at all. If I say there is a 50% chance of rain, I will be just as right if it rains as if it doesn't. I simply gave the probabilities of the two options.

"So the Met Office were involved, and told the review that winters were going to become warmer and wetter."

Not at all. In fact you quoted what they said:

"The consensus on the UK is that on average summers will become warmer, and winters will become warmer and wetter, though the next 10–15 years may be dominated by natural variability. When severe weather events happen they may be more extreme in terms of heat and rainfall."

Notice that last bit? Do you know why it is there? It is because the sun is doing something it hasn't done since "The Little Ice Age" and as such we have very little data for what SHOULD be happening under these conditions. We know the last time this happened the Thames froze over and it hasn't yet. So clearly it's warmer now than then. What is the difference? Six centuries or so of global warming, perhaps?

So if we take the temperatures during the last time the sun was this cold and compare them to now, what do we see? Well blow me down, this year is warmer and wetter than then! Who would have thunk it?

"Now didn't the Met Office tell us just yesterday that they didn't make any predictions on the weather for this winter?"

What makes you think they have made a prediction?

You quoted and bolded what they said, and I see no prediction at all. I see them saying that it is "safer to assume" that this year will be no different from the rest. Doesn't sound like a prediction to me. In fact it sounds like the complete opposite - a "we don't know, but we figure it won't be much different".

"I would have thought many people might have mistaken the words highlighted above as discussing a forecast of some kind."

I didn't. In fact it sounds nothing like a forcast.

"However, when severe winters come, they could still be extreme – in terms of snowfall, wind and storms, though not necessarily in relation to temperature."

Your selective emphasis is astounding. The rest of that paragraph is spot on, is it not? The part you bolded is simply saying that temperature is not NECESSARILY going to be extreme. So lets see shall we?

The monthly averages for November in London in 2010:

Max Temperature: 9°C
Mean Temperature: 6°C
Min Temperature: 4°C

The monthly averages for November in London in 2005:

Max Temperature: 9°C
Mean Temperature: 6°C
Min Temperature: 3°C

2005 was the warmest year ever recorded, and yet in 2005 it was the same average max, the same average mean and a LOWER average min! It was either the same temperature or COLDER in London in November 2005, the hottest year on record, than it was this November.

Seems temperatures are very much the same! My god, the scientists were right!

Dec 21, 2010 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterKarmakaze

So what the beef? Difficulty in making accurate weather predictions is proof of a communist conspiracy by weathermen and Climate Scientists to take over the world?

Yeah right, tell me: are the Daleks in on it too?

What gets me is the way the rubes who post on this site lap all this up.

Hill didn't exactly say anything beyond a few ill-natured grunts and his loyal little followers slaver 'conspiracy' like so many Pavlov's dogs.

Let me put it very simply for you.

If you pour gigatonnes of CO2 into the air you're going to change the climate and we have.

This will make the weather less not more predictable. And yes there's going to be surprises.

The surprise here is that Global Heating has dispersed a weather pattern that usually keeps arctic air away from Europe during the winter. Ultimately the cause is the melting arctic sea-ice.

In any case seven of the last ten European winters were warmer than average, so enjoy playing in the snow while you can.

And cut out the 'impossible standards of proof' gambit, it's getting very old, and stop looking for witches to burn.

It contributes to Global Heating and doesn't warm you're house very well.

No accountant would countenance it.

Dec 21, 2010 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermacsporan

@ macsporan
"Ultimately the cause is the melting arctic (sic) sea-ice."

As I understand it, the Arctic has been gaining sea ice since mid September and which it does on a regular basis. Do you have a source that I might refer to so that I can examine my (now) confusion on this?

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

hmc --
Thanks for mentioning the change in forecasting method. I didn't browse around the site to find that. And it accounts for the about-face in forecasts -- I didn't notice anything had changed significantly in October otherwise.

It sounds like a good explanation for the claim that there was a warning issued in October of a cold winter. The "November" forecasts might well have been produced towards the end of October. Especially as the results of the new system were greatly at variance with the preceding forecast, I can well imagine the Met Office spreading a warning urgently to any gov't agencies likely to be affected.

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

From Boris's website....

'Climate change means in the future London will have hotter summers and wetter winters. What we consider to be a freak or extreme weather event today is likely to become far more frequent. For example, an extreme weather event that might occur only every once every hundred years now, may occur every 20 years by the end of the century.'

'To respond to the climate change we know is inevitable, we have identified the key risks to London and Londoners and prioritised the actions needed to manage those risks.
The London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
Climate change presents two challenges: reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous climate change and adapting to those impacts that are now inevitable.
Climate change means that London is expected to experience warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers, with more extreme weather (heatwaves, tidal surges and heavy rainfall) and rising sea levels. These changes will increase the risk of floods, droughts and heatwaves, which will affect the prosperity of the city and the quality of life of Londoners. Anything that is affected by the weather will be affected by climate change.

There is even a current consultation on 'The Mayor’s draft Climate Change Mitigation and Energy strategy' calling for suggestions, closing date 5.1.11

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Two comments:

1) If there is a trend of warming then the odds of a cold winter each year must be lengthening. If the winters are independent then the probability of 3 successive winters being cold must be even more unlikely than 1 in 8000
2) On the subject of Met Office predictions, the last one I saw I posted at WUWT way back in March 2010. The Met Office gave the following rainfall predictions and probabilities:

Drier 30%
Near Average 35%
Wetter 35%

This is so close to the uniform distribution of 33.3% for each outcome as to be completely meaningless. That’s not a prediction: in terms of statistics and entropy its “our prediction is don’t know”. Its as close to the maximum entropy (chaotic) state of a three state system as makes no difference.

For those who are not familiar with the concept of entropy, for a binary system the maximum entropy state is equal probability of either outcome. Eg tossing a coin, where heads is 50% and tails is 50% means the outcome is not predictable. This is a uniform probability over a two-outcome system. For a three-outcome system ("drier", "average", "wetter") then the uniform probabilities are 33and1/3% each. Uniform probabilities, no prediction. This is why the Met Office "predictions" are meaningless - unless you have no understanding of probability and are impressed by silly numbers.

Dec 22, 2010 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist


Be a good troll and run away and get the Hadley Central England Temperatures for Nov 2005 and Nov 2010.

Funny old thing: they seem to be the inverse of your airport figures.

BTW 'average mean' is tautology.

Dec 22, 2010 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

If one goes to the site, one can see that the degree days for the whole of UK have not made it a warm summer. November 2010 is about 50 degree days per year colder than May 2007. The linear trend line on all the records shows it is getting colder.
But this is only data. It is always trumped by a model.

Dec 22, 2010 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterChrisM

The only "resilience planning" in force with this report is how the Met Office can cover their collective kiester for their demonstrated abject incompetence and still continue to accord themselves free reign to proselytize.

Dec 22, 2010 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterb_C

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