This is probably due to the fact that I’m getting steadily older, but time appears to be accelerating – a blink of an eye ago, it seems, it was January and we were in the depths of a new Fimbulwinter. Now the days are long, the nights are uncomfortably warm, other people’s stereos are loud and Wimbledon has just been on the television. In the outer western reaches of London at least, it is turning out to be a bit of an ice cream summer.
The technical term, of course, as used by the Met Office, is “barbecue summer”, but I’ve never organised a barbecue in my life, and the last one I went to was over a decade ago; on the other hand, I have consumed quite a bit of ice cream of various flavours in the past month or so, and there’s still half a tub of it left in my icebox, so “ice cream summer” it is.
The Met Office unfortunately, have stopped doing their seasonal forecasts, which is a pity; bless them, it was always great fun to point out where they had gone wrong. But that hasn’t stopped others jumping in and making predictions about this summer and the winter to come (and it hasn’t stopped the Met Office themselves from having grand designs on 2010 as a whole.) Over the next six months or so, it will be very interesting to find out which forecasters will have come closest to reality.
One organisation which has rushed in where the Met Office angels fear to tread, is the tiny outfit PWS (Positive Weather Solutions), based in Abergavenny, Wales. Their ideas for this summer have been very ambitious, with high temperatures to beat those of legendary years 1976 and 2003 – back in March they were saying this could even be the warmest summer on record in the UK, and that it will at least be in the top three.
Well, it has been hot of late, but nothing to rival 1976 yet, and June is over. There are still just over eight weeks left, however, between now and the August Bank Holiday, so I think PWS are still in with a chance. Back in 1976, in some places it was over 32 degrees for a whole fortnight, and that’s a tough act to follow, but we shall see.
(Mind you, they have updated their website and now say “… generally, we will have the lion’s share of the drier weather, which at the very least, will allow people to get out and about.” Which sounds rather nice, but doesn’t quite presage the Summer to End all Summers.)
Who else? There’s Piers Corbyn, outspoken forecaster of consultancy WeatherAction, always fun to read about. He is predicting extreme heat and weather turbulence over the next few weeks. “The forecast shows the superheat now being experienced in much of Central and East Europe will break down in massive thunderstorms before mid-month.” I’m not sure what he has in mind for western Europe though, or London in particular. I like a good thunderstorm, however, and hope we get to have a few exciting and violent ones.
And there’s Joe Bastardi of Accuweather, whose European blog is always worth a look. As far as I can recall, he was predicting a warm summer over here, due to the El Nino conditions earlier; however, I’m not absolutely sure what he said exactly (his blog is always being updated and older posts eventually just vanish.) More about him later.
So, I think it’s fair to say that the omens are good for a bit of old-fashioned summer heat this year.
Overall though, will 2010 beat 1998 for the title of Global Warmingest Year Ever? Maybe not, as it’s half over, and so far, 1998 still comes out warmer – just. The Met Office’s Vicky Pope certainly thought, back in May, that 2010 could be a contender, telling us that “[t]his year has more than a 50% chance of being the warmest on record.” So maybe 2010 will rally over the next few months, and will grab victory at last, boosted by the glowing remnants of the current El Nino.
Which brings me naturally to the subject of La Nina, El Nino’s little sister, ever waiting in the wings for her brother to exit, so that she can have centre stage. (For an introduction to the changeable ENSO siblings, here’s the Wikipedia page on this absorbing subject.) It appears that La Nina conditions are on the cards for later this year, which in turn may mean that things may take a turn – for the cooler.
So what lies in store for us in the UK when it comes to winter 2010-2011? It turns out that while the Met Office’s prediction for last winter was famously on the mild side, others (including PWS, Corbyn and Bastardi) thought that it would be not so mild here – and they were right. What are they saying, this time around?
This is what PWS were thinking in May: “As far as Winter 2010/11 goes, a very good percentage is showing for a ‘White Christmas’ and we expect this coming Winter to be as brutal as last year’s, which we predicted very accurately indeed, right down to the prolonged cold temperatures extending into March.”
As for Joe Bastardi, he is warning about a “dramatic drop” and a “great global temperature collapse on the way”.
I’m not yet aware of Piers Corbyn’s prognostications for the coming winter, but these should be interesting too, as ever.
Now if they are right, we will be going from ice cream summer back to (miniature) ice age winter, but hopefully with a pleasant enough autumn somewhere in the middle. Time to stock up, therefore, on cold weather essentials (mince pies, Xmas pud and alcohol, quick before the new Puritans succeed in banning them.)
And I’m hoping that local Councils around the country are remembering what happened last time and are laying in a good supply of salt for the roads. Just in case, you understand.