Winter incoming…just as meteorological winter ends!!

The effects of the SSW (Sudden Stratospheric Warming) that occurred high above the N Pole last weekend are now starting to feed into the model outputs, but given the intensity of the warming and the potential effects of a secondary one, precise details for our little island in the Atlantic remain elusive.

However Europe is set to go into the freezer this weekend and at least according to the latest GFS model runs the UK will follow suit by Monday, with some substantial snow in the offing for many during midweek. If this evolution does come to pass, then it may well prove to be a case of short term gain and long term pain, with milder, wet conditions possibly moving up from France later next week.

The ECM model on the other hand is rather more bullish about steering the very coldest air south into France, then later Iberia, with less cold conditions running down across the UK around the periphery of a High between Scotland and Iceland later next week. If this evolution does come to pass some snow is still likely at times, especially across eastern parts of England, but nowhere near to the extent being suggested by GFS.

However, here’s the rub - The ECM evolution might be less cold in the mid term, but as the high regresses towards Greenland it does herald much better prospects for prolonging the cold spell than GFS does - so whichever way you slice it, meteorological Spring will be very much on hold when it officially arrives on Mar 1st.

A taste of Winter…

Increasingly cold air has been flooding south across the UK during the last 24hrs, turning many of the showers to snow from the Midlands northwards, with some significant falls already being reported across Scotland, N Ireland and N England in particular. These showers look set to persist this evening and overnight, giving further heavy falls in places and leading to some travel disruption, especially but not exclusively on higher ground. Ice will also be a feature away from exposed western coasts, particularly where late showers have fallen and/or snow is lying.

After what is likely to be very tricky commute for many, any snow showers should die out during the course of Wednesday morning, with rain arriving in the far west during the late afternoon. As this rain moves into Scotland and perhaps parts of N England it will turn to snow, but elsewhere a wet/very windy, even stormy evening and night is in prospect, with gale or severe gales gusts developing quite widely.

This rain/snow should in turn quickly clear on Thursday morning, with colder air and wintry showers returning from the northwest to close out the working week for all.

30 years in this trade…but not everything has changed!

So since our inception way back in 1987 what’s changed in this trade?

Well the short answer pretty much reflects life in general I guess and that is a massive. massive amount, with the rise of the internet bringing weather to the masses on a truly global scale. Back in the 80′s we needed to print our own weather charts and the only satellite dish we possessed was used to beam us satellite pictures, not hundreds of TV channels from here, there and everywhere.

Most of the forecasts we produced we’re typed, printed out and then faxed to recipients, many of whom were local radio stations, farmers, growers, construction firms and retailers, who had very few options to choose from when it came to accessing weather forecast information.

Also very big back in the day were telephone forecasts, in fact we pretty much pioneered the private sector weather lines, which saw us produce a 3 minute written forecast for 10 separate regions of the UK 3 times per day. These forecasts where then recorded by professional readers, giving the public access to information that was at most 8 hours old.

Despite the recorded lines proving very successful we never sat on our laurels and approximately 15 years ago we took things to the next level, by introducing Live Line – which as it’s name implies, allowed callers to actually talk directly to a forecaster, rather than simply listening to a pre pre-recorded script. By this stage of the early noughties things had moved on, the internet was providing us much more in the way of real time information such as rainfall radar, as well as increasing access to different computer forecast models from around the globe.

Since that time change has accelerated even more, in fact the job today is pretty much unrecognisable from the one only a decade or so ago, but I’m pleased to say in amongst all the upheaval one thing has stood the test of time quite superbly… and that is Live Line. The truth is despite to plethora of weather information currently available out there to every man and his dog, there is clearly something deeply comforting to many about picking up the phone, dialling the number and talking to a forecaster…it’s the pipe and slippers of our operation.

Perhaps it’s the fact callers are able to literally ask for a forecast for their own back garden, or maybe finding comfort in discovering the scare mongering gibberish spouted by elements of the gutter press is just that – to be honest I really don’t know what it is and I really don’t care. What I do know is Live Line is more popular now than it was a decade ago, indeed it’s popularity still continues to increase year or year, so for once this deeply innovative firm is adopting the mantra of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…..and this now late teenager is about as far from broken as it’s possible to be.

Give Live Line a try, our forecasters would love to hear from you.








Meteorological Consultancy….can it really make a difference to my business?

Ask an insurer, loss adjuster, large construction company or major high street fashion retailer (to name just a few)  what is one of their most significant impactors on their business and without question most, if not all would say the weather. Ask the bosses of those firms however just how many meteorologists they employ full time, either directly or on a consultative basis and the answer will probably be either none, or very few.

Looking at things logically this sounds pretty ridiculous.  These firms clearly recognise the significant importance weather has on their overall P&L, yet for whatever reason they choose to either crash on in the dark, or take the cheap and cheerful option of automated forecast data freely available 24/7 on the web. It’s a bit like Real Madrid saying we don’t need all these so called superstars, we know loads of people who can play football and they’ll do it for free, so despite the fact our club will live and die by this decision….just think of the money we’ll save!

Of course in the world of Real Madrid just paying these superstars costs them a significant amount of their turnover, but in the case of a large, highly weather sensitive company the cost of engaging professional meteorological consultants, would start at around the same per annum as an employee on minimum wage.

So given weather is vital to their business and engaging professional weather consultants is extremely cost effective, why oh why are so many firms up and down this land so reluctant to take what looks like an obvious no brainer decision? Well we’ve perhaps already identified one major reason in the free to air forecasts on the net, but as anyone who has studied these in even the most basic way will confirm, their frequent updating can be extremely confusing, their content very light and their resultant usefulness very limited.

Looking at things with my cynical head on, it would be easy to assume the thinking might be if we employ meteorologists, how can we blame weather for our poor trading performance? Ummm, probably not the case to be honest - however when you look at the amount of times we see firms blaming the weather for a dip in annual profits, then these very same firms either confirm they take no forecast information, or worst still (as in many cases) just simply ignore the question asked… well, it really does make you wonder.

We only need to look 3000 miles west to see a very different picture, with many more US companies fully onboard the weather impact bus. OK the weather there is far more extreme, but it’s all relative and it certainly doesn’t mean our lack of tornadoes, hurricanes and frequent major blizzards makes us bullet proof against unwanted weather.

Meteorological consultant can and often are worth their weight in gold to a weather sensitive company, that much should be pretty obvious….my advice is take the leap of faith and at least listen to what they have to say, you will be very glad you did.


White Xmas 2017?

Before we talk about the odds of a White Xmas in the UK we really do need to qualify the criteria involved, because to many it would mean a nice cover of snow on the ground on Dec 25th, irrespective of whether snow falls or not.  However that isn’t the way bookmakers classify a White Xmas as far as their betting market are concerned, quite the opposite in fact…indeed the last time snow covered much of the country on the big day in 2010 most places were dry, so despite being plenty white enough, I’m afraid many punters would again have parted with their hard earned.

So how do the bookies classify a white Xmas? Well without quoting any of their specific jargon, the Yes/No market is settled a winner if snow is reported to fall at one of their named weather stations across the UK at an time in the 24hrs between midnight on the 25th and midnight on the 26th Dec. The snow can actually be mixed with rain (sleet) or fall as snow grains or snow pellets and still qualify as a White Xmas, so on the face of it the chances of this look much better than measurable snow lying on the ground.

So what are the odds of a White Xmas 2017? Well as things stand the truth is no one knows for sure. There are weather models that already offer charts for the Xmas period, but in reality they are pretty much useless at this kind of range, meaning all we currently have to go on are statistics. Now if the question was will snow fall somewhere in the UK on December 25th we could statistically put that chance around 65-70%, i.e very high, but remember as far as the bookies are concerned the snow has to fall at one of their named locations, many of which are low lying and/or coastal.

As we all know, in general the weather gets colder the farther north one travels in the UK, so on that basis it would clearly come as no surprise each year to see the bookies have the lowest odds of snow across their name cities in Scotland and their highest odds for cities in the south of England. Statistically the chances of a bookie defined White Xmas in the north is somewhere in the range 25-35%, that decreases to around 15-25% for central areas and then further decreases to as low as 8-15% for those in the southern third of the UK.

As previously stated. it’s far to early to say whether those odds look too high, too low or just about right for 2017 - however if you believe all the hype dished out recently by the normal suspects regarding the alleged incoming snowmaggddon, then you’d now be taking your cash down to the bookies in a biscuit tin, fully expecting to pick it up in a skip on Boxing Day…my advice is don’t, at least not until things become a good deal clearer and that won’t be until mid December at the earliest.

Watch this space!


Coldest Winter since the Great Freeze….apparantly!!

It’s not like the Express says pretty much the same thing every year is it?…but of course if you throw enough darts, one will eventually hit the bull….of should that be bulls**t!


100 DAYS OF HEAVY SNOW: Britain now facing worst winter in SIXTY YEARS warn forecasters

LONG-RANGE weather forecasters have warned that Britain should prepare for heavy and persistent snow for up to THREE MONTHS with winter 2013 set to be the worst in more than 60 years.

By Nathan Rao

PUBLISHED: 00:10, Sun, Nov 17, 2013


Winter 2014 set to be ‘coldest for century’ Britain faces ARCTIC FREEZE in just weeks

WINTER 2014 is on track to be the coldest for more than a CENTURY with Britain just weeks away from a crippling ARCTIC FREEZE.

By Nathan Rao

PUBLISHED: 13:08, Fri, Oct 10, 2014


Coldest winter for 50 YEARS set to bring MONTHS of heavy snow to UK

BRITAIN is facing the most savage winter in more than 50 years with months of heavy snowfall and bitter Arctic winds set to bring the country to a total standstill.

By Nathan Rao PUBLISHED: 03:10, Thu, Sep 17, 2015


FREEZING BRITAIN: Bitter polar air to bring COLDEST winter for more than FIVE YEARS

BRITAIN is about to freeze in the coldest winter for more than five years with unusually low temperatures forecast until February.

By Nathan Rao PUBLISHED: 00:00, Tue, Nov 22, 2016 | UPDATED: 18:36, Tue, Nov 22, 2016


UK faces MONTHS of SNOW: Sinking polar vortex to trigger COLDEST winter since GREAT FREEZE

BRITAIN is weeks away from the first major winter whiteout with 2017 shaping up to be the “year of the snowstorm”.

By Nathan Rao PUBLISHED: 07:17, Mon, Oct 23, 2017 | UPDATED: 09:07, Mon, Oct 23, 2017


Life of (storm) Brian

As I type the naughty boy is still sat just NW of the Azores, with a central pressure of around 995mb, but in just 24hrs time he’ll have deepened to around 960mb and headed to within 500 miles of SW Ireland.

The first of the rain looks set to arrive across SW England tomorrow afternoon, with a broad band then sweeping east across all parts of country during the evening and night, finally clearing the east coast around dawn on Saturday. Some of the rain associated with Brian is expected to be heavy, particularly across western parts of the country, but the fact it will be rather fast moving means any flooding issues should be relatively small.

The wind however looks set to be rather more of a feature, especially but not exclusively across Southwest England and S Wales, where gusts of 40-60mph can be expected widely and 50-70mph locally on Saturday morning. The windiest conditions of all look likely on hills and coasts exposed to the SW, with high tides possibly combining to give some coastal inundation in places.

Later on Saturday and into Sunday the wind will tend more towards west and eventually the northwest, with the worst of the weather transferring to northern and especially northwestern parts of the UK, but by this time max gusts should be more in the 30-50mph range away from exposed hills and coasts.

So yes Brian looks set to be more of a naughty boy than a messiah, but at this stage he isn’t expected to provide any weather of biblical proportions.    

Indian Summer inbound, but what about Winter?

After what’s has been a fairly indifferent first third of October things are starting to look rather more interesting as we move toward mid month, with plumes or warm air set to waft northwards at times and bring most of us a welcome taste of Indian Summer… in fact with the mercury perhaps hitting the low even mid 20′s it could actually feel like proper Summer for some.

Alas we do not expect the very warm temperatures to persist beyond next Monday, but the rest of October looks far from cold, with the potential for further plumes as we get into the final third on the month. As for November we expect little significant change to the overall pattern, with winds tending to predominate from between west and south, meaning any colder spells should be both brief and far from severe.

As for winter itself it’s far to early to be confident, but with so many recent seasons since the turn of the decade being mild or even very mild, it’s hard to make a convincing case for anything substantially different at this stage. Without question most of the global seasonal models currently point towards the greater chance of a milder than average winter, but it must be said the available global teleconnections don’t exactly rubber stamp this too convincingly, so the jury has to remain out for now.

Moreover one very important piece of the winter forecast jigsaw is currently under construction, this being Siberia snow cover during the month of October. Extensive cover alone does not guarantee a colder than average winter, but there is a clear link between the westward extent of snow cover over Russia and winter temperatures across Europe…so this is one thing we will be keeping a very close eye on across the remainder of October.

Watch this space!


John Lewis blame warm Autumn weather on sales drop

Please see the press article below:  It begs the question, why didn’t John Lewis ask weather organisations to inform them and then delay the Autumn/Winter fashions by a week or so?  Same story every year!

John Lewis weekly fashion sales drop 2.7 percent

Total sales at John Lewis for the week ending October 7, 2017 were 89.1 million pounds (117 million dollars), down 0.9 percent on last year. John Lewis said that warmer weather at the start of October had an impact on fashion sales, which were down 2.7 percent.

The Kin range however had a record week, up 55 percent compared to last year. Home sales were down 2.5 percent, while the Christmas Villages continued to perform strongly and Halloween products were up 30 percent on last year.

Electricals and home technology sales rose 2.4 percent, which the company said were driven by strong sales in communication technology. Apple products, including Macbooks and iPhones 8 and 6, performed well. Sony and Panasonic TVs had a strong week, as did beverage products such as kettles and coffee machines.

The ‘weather edge’ in professional football

No matter which of the top European leagues you think about, the wealth/value gap between clubs continues to widen whilst the quality/skills gap continues to close – with just about any side seemingly able to beat one of the big four or five on it’s day.

Quite often the difference in quality between two side can be extremely small indeed, with games potentially won and lost as a result of one simple, isolated error, or maybe a bit of sublime skill that if repeated 100 times would fail 99 times. 

There are of course a number of reasons behind this on-going phenomena, but without question the much closer attention to detail now being paid to the impact of weather both pre match and during, is currently right up there among them in the quest to close the gap still further. It is with this in mind that increasing numbers of clubs across all professional levels are using meteorologists such as ourselves, to try and gain seemingly small but ultimately very important edges in weather affected matches.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly our job starts with the provision of accurate forecast data, indeed we update clubs as many as 10-15 times across the 5 days prior to a match. This all means that by the time players walk out onto the pitch they know exactly what conditions have occurred, they know what weather to expect during the match and most importantly they will have trained accordingly all week. This in itself is a confidence booster, both for the coaching staff and players, meaning heads are often in the right place before a ball is even kicked.

Another very important aspect of the service we provide concerns the historical analysis of weather affected matches, using footage whenever possible and stats when not. Clubs like to have their own individuals performances analysed against certain types of weather, but they are equally as keen to know just how their opposition fared, which can often prove very revealing/useful when looking to target certain players in subsequent fixtures.

It’s probably not rocket science to suggest guys who spent their formative years playing in dry, hot climes are not going to be particularly comfortable in driving sleet and temps of 2c, but it’s still very useful for managers to know exactly what particular parts of their performance suffers the most in such conditions. It could be they are simply slower out of the blocks, perhaps they struggle to turn as sharply or maybe they just don’t cover as much ground and track back a little less enthusiastically. Being able to identity one or more such or similar weaknesses can provide that vital edge and in turn 3 points on the day, meaning all clubs have the opportunity to up their game without signing any more superstars – apart from BWS that is and thankfully we don’t charge 500k a week!!