The FREEZING WINTER headlines are back, is there any truth in them?
Weather forecasting can be a tricky business; often things don't run to schedule. Just because summer begins in June, it doesn't mean summery weather will turn up right at that moment, and as we found this year, Spring starting in March doesn't mean you can instantly say goodbye to any wintry weather. But forecasting forecasts is much much easier.
Every year at around this time without fail, the 'freezing winter' headlines start to appear, quoting various 'forecasts' which point to the upcoming winter being one of the coldest ever, or coldest this century or similar. This year has been spectacular, with a virtual explosion of them.
Why so many this year?
You may think that it's because there are lots of forecasts pointing the same way, and therefore an increased chance of a bitter winter. But, that isn't really the case - it's still very early days when it comes to long-range forecasts for the upcoming winter, and while some models and theories do suggest a chance of Northern blocking being more prominent, and therefore an increased risk of cold weather, not all do. It's really only into November when more of the pieces of the jigsaw start to fit into place and the more serious long-range forecasts for the season are published.
The most likely reason for the increased hype, headlines and speculation is because of what happened late last winter and during the early Spring - e.g. the 'Beast from the East'. That was a notable cold and snowy spell and is still quite fresh in the mind, so it makes for a great headline to suggest that something similar, or maybe even worse may happen this time round.
Here's a look at the headlines at around this time of year, over the last six years - as I say they're as regular as clockwork.
The Winter of 2012/13 was just slightly colder than average, so certainly not close to the coldest in 100 years.
2013/14 was the fifth warmest since 1910, and the stormiest winter on record. So more like 100 days of wind and rain than 100 days of snow!
The winter of 2014/15 was close to normal across the season, so again a long way off of being the coldest for a century.
Winter 2015/16 was the third warmest since 1910...
2016/17 was a dry, mild Winter. December was the 8th mildest since 1910, and February the 9th mildest. January was a bit closer to normal, with some parts even a little below average. But big freeze? No.
The 2017/2018 winter will be remembered for the 'beast from the east', which arrived late February and stuck around into March. But December and January were both milder than average across the UK, with February left as the only colder than normal month of the three. That did mean that overall winter was a tiny bit colder than average, but a winter long snowmageddon, it wasn't.
A pinch (maybe a bucket load) of salt needed
So based on these headlines and their record over the years, it's definitely not time to be panic buying tinned beans and taking an igloo building course. Winter is on the way though, so it's always worth keeping an eye on the forecasts as cold, snowy spells are never out of the question. The Netweather Winter forecast will be released in November, and if you fancy speculating on the upcoming winter, or seeing what others are saying about it, take a look at the winter thread over on the community pages.