The silly season is here!

Figure 1 – Courtesy of

Forget all the waffle that I wrote about a warm start to November, after all that was last week, and as we know “a week is a long time” when it comes to NWP output. You can’t say the latest run of the GFS isn’t meridional at the start of November (fig 1), but in completely the opposite way that it seemed to be indicating last Wednesday. Although the start of November usually marks the start of the silly season for snow, the GFS model is well supported by the ECMWF model in this northerly outbreak, although the anticyclone is over northern Greenland in the GFS model, rather than the west of Ireland in the ECMWF (fig 2).

Figure 2 – Courtesy of

Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!

Figure 1 – Courtesy of GFS

Tropical storm, soon to be hurricane, Ophelia is already causing headaches to the weather forecasting fraternity, and it’s still over 3,200 km away in the mid-Atlantic! The problem is that the models are forecasting that she will track northeast, and then turn north and skirt the west coast of Ireland by next Monday (fig 2). Monday is still along way off, and the NWP models at this range are shockingly poor, but it’s the thought that thirty years, on that Ophelia should coincide with the ‘great’ storm of the 15th and 16th of October 1987, but this time it will be the result of a tropical storm, that’s got everyone’s pulses racing.

  • At the moment the forecast track of the low is not that too dissimilar to that of hurricane Debbie that caused so much death and destruction to the Republic of Ireland in 1961.
  • And it does raise the question: Is there is a thirty year cycle that no one has noticed?
  • And an even more surreal thought about ex-tropical storm Ophelia is that if when she does arrive she might have to undergo a sex change and be rechristened storm Brian by the Met Office!
Figure 2 – Courtesy of

The NHC seem to think that the Ophelia will track much further east towards northwest Spain, which means it might end up in the western approaches to the English Channel (fig 3).

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the NHC

Just one final check to see if that I’ve not entered the Twilight Zone by taking a peek at how the ECMWF see developments (fig 4).

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the ECMWF

It’s certainly one to be watched over the coming days.

Improved ECMWF maps

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the ECMWF

I’ve never been a big fan of the ECMWF site, for two reasons, the first is that you could never access the URL of the NWP image, so you could never grab it because the URL was never fixed. The other reason was that there wasn’t a great deal of variety in the NWP fields that you could access, and the maps where always very small. Well at least now they’ve improved the mapping, which is now much bigger and clearer, although they still space isobars every five hPa in the European way, rather than the more conventional four hPa. All I can say it’s about time that they put some effort into promoting the NWP they generate on their website, it’s not much progress, and most people in Europe will still use the more accessible GFS model data from the Americans.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of the ECMWF

Of course it’s been announced that the ECMWF data centre is relocating to Bologna in Italy in the coming years. I wonder with Brexit looming, just how long it will be before the rest of the team at Shinfield up sticks and relocate to Italy as well. I wonder what Michael Gove thinks about it, or if even cares.

Will the BBC graphics look like this?

One of my readers after reading my article about NWP Web viewers has kindly pointed me to one that the MeteoGroup are trialling at the moment. It’s called MeteoEarth and it’s very ‘Google Earth’ like with a spinning globe, although you can display ‘flat’ maps. There are a number of basic overlays available, but they are just that quite basic, and the contoured pressure overlay does need further work to look right. It might be early days for their web application, because that’s what it really is, perhaps this is some kind of test bed. They seem to be encouraging people to embed MeteoEarth into their own websites, and you can also hook up to social media through various buttons. It makes me wonder if it resembles in any way the graphics engine that they are planning to use when they take over the BBC contract very shortly.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of MeteoGroup

The info box makes interesting reading as well…

Figure 2 – Courtesy of MeteoGroup

They are making use of global ECMWF data in the MeteoEarth, wouldn’t that be a turn up if they did the same thing at the BBC! I can’t see this happening somehow, especially the political ramifications of using European NWP data in preference to Met Office NWP data when, we are just about to begin the Brexit negotiations.

Poor eight day NWP forecasts

You may remember that I blogged about a change in weather type on the 17th of March, and contrasted the T+192 (8 day) forecast from the GFS model with the one from the ECMWF model, and commented about how totally at odds they were with each other. I promised that I’d look back, and examine the evidence, one of these solutions had to be wrong. Here are the two forecast charts, unfortunately the ECMWF is from a model run that is 12 hours later than the GFS.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of ECMWF

OK, so basically a large high pressure system (~1032 hPa) in the Celtic sea and an anticyclonic westerly flow across most of the British Isles from the ECMWF (fig 1).

Figure 2 – GFS courtesy of OGIMET

And from the GFS model a strong northeasterly type with lows over northern Germany (~990 hPa) and Biscay (~990 hPa), and a band of high pressure aligned SSW-NNE to the northwest of the British Isles (fig 2).

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Well, both models did very poorly. The ECMWF had the anticyclone too far to the southwest, with no sign of any easterly across northern France and English Channel. The GFS went overboard, with two overly vigorous lows, the one over northern Germany completely fictitious, and the other over Biscay misplaced entirely, so null points to both organisations.

A degree of consensus

Figure 1 – Courtesy of OGIMET

The GFS and ECMWF models have finally agreed on a degree of consensus in their T+192 forecasts, both of the models are forecasting a broadly similar anticyclonic easterly of sorts in their latest runs. This is a total switcheroo from yesterday’s anticyclonic westerly solution from the ECMWF.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of ECMWF

Recurring theme on a cold northerly (part II)

Earlier this month I wrote a piece on a couple of northerly forecast frames in the GFS model that came to nothing. Well instead of learning my lesson, and just keeping my mouth shut till at least next winter, the GFS have gone and done it again (fig 1). This time it looks a bit more certain, but then again I would say that to justify this blog, which I might live to regret. This time it’s not so much a classic northerly, but more of a complex area of low pressure, embedded in a trough of cold air, that transfers from the northwest to the southeast of the British Isles, with a strong north and then northeasterly airstream following on behind, as a belt of high pressure builds to the northwest. If this comes about all I can say is that it’s a good job Easter is later, rather than early this year, and it will certainly will put a stop to March being one of the mildest on record this year.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of OGIMET

As most readers will know, I’m no big fan of the ECMWF, but I thought that I would check out their forecast solution (fig 2).

Figure 2 – Courtesy of ECMWF

So instead of a strong north, veering northeasterly flow as forecast by the American model, the ECMWF have a strong (at least in the north) anticyclonic (at least in the south) westerly solution. I’ll revisit these forecasts in eight days time to see just how close these two models get, it certainly doesn’t inspire me with any confidence that two of the world’s best NWP models, come up with such disparate solutions at this kind of range.