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 www.netweather.tv

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

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.

Weather supercomputing ‘heads to Italy’

Image 1 – Courtesy of ECMWF

The ECMWF seem unwilling and reluctant to share any detailed NWP data with the public of any of its member states. It’s website is awful, displaying a small subset of the detailed NWP data that it produces for Europe and the World in thumbnail size graphics. Why is it that we have to look to the Americans for detailed NWP data when we pay the ECMWF £60 million a year to do it? You certainly won’t get high-resolution NWP data from either them or the Met Office and that’s a fact, the policy of both institutions is to hide as much as the forecast data as you possibly can, in a similar way to EUMETSAT does with hiding real-time satellite imagery. Personally, I would pack the whole of the ECMWF off to Italy as quickly as possible, as all the forecast data they generate is duplicated effort, and a total waste of taxpayers money. Their old site could then be then reused as the new home to a slimmed down Met Office (~300 employees) that relocates back to where it started.

Here’s the link to the original BBC news article that inspired this bit of a rant – Weather supercomputing ‘heads to Italy’http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39144990

The Candlemas storm

One of these lows that are forecast to affect the British Isles on Thursday and Friday this week (2 & 3 February 2017) has to be storm Doris. My money’s still on the secondary low on Friday, but who know we might get a double whammy and get both storm Doris and storm Ewan out of it.

The Candlemas storm

If they do name the primary low on Thursday storm Doris, it might have been more appropriate to have called it the Candlemas storm, which has a much better ring to it in my opinion. I suppose calling it the Groundhog day storm would have been taking it a bit too far.

Of course there is a bit of weather lore associated with Candlemas itself.

If Candlemas be fair and clear
There’ll be two winters in one year.

And a slight variation to that

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter’ll have another flight.
But if Candlemas Day be clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.

Well if you believe in that kind of thing, then I would say it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ve seen the last of this rather weak and insipid last couple of months that we call Winter.

Battle of the models

There’s still a lot of disagreement between the GFS and the UKMO models about both lows, particularly the secondary low on Friday. The GFS solution has a centre of 985 hPa at 49° north 4° west (fig 2), whilst the Met Office model has a much deeper and more vigorous low (in the latest run that I can find) of 959 hPa but further west at 49° north 10.5° west (fig 1). I would include the ECMWF solution here but the graphics are so poor on the charts that they generate I won’t even bother, suffice it to say they keep the low back in Biscay till later in Saturday – very strange.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Figure 2 – Courtesy of OGIMET

Interesting Friday…

I can’t see Thursday’s low being named Doris, but it does looks set to affect the West Of Ireland so Met Éireann might just force the Met Office’s hand. Of more interest to me is the secondary low that the Met Office T+120 forecast chart (fig 1) is taking into Western France on Friday.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the Met Office

The GFS solution (fig 2) illustrates a marked difference between the two model runs. The UKMO has the British Isles sat under much lower air pressure than does the GFS at T+120, in places as much as 15 hPa lower. But although they look different, the secondary low’s are in an almost identical position, the difference being that the GFS have developed the low (986 hPa) with three closed isobars (2 hPa spacing) wrapped around it, whilst the tip of the secondary low in the UKMO run, which they havent bothered to label, is much deeper (974 hPa).

Figure 2 – Courtesy of OGIMET

I would add the ECMWF solution, but it just looks plain wacky to include. What real use is the ECMWF to the public of any member state with a website that provides no detailed NWP charts of Europe beats me. And don’t even bother asking for an account to access their ‘dashboard’, because being a citizen of Europe and ultimately funding the ECMWF (and all the tax-free salaries of the people who work there) won’t gain you access, I’ve tried. I wonder if the ECMWF will relocate their centre to France or Germany when we finally exit Europe? If the ECMWF closed tomorrow would it be any real loss to anyone?

Anyway I digress, Friday will be an interesting day one way or the other.

Currently third most anticyclonic Winter since 1871

Figure 1 – Data courtesy of the CRU at the UEA

Winter 2016/17 is shaping up to be one of the most Anticyclonic on record. At the moment it’s joint third most anticyclonic in all ‘meteorological’ Winters back to 1871 (fig 1), using the daily Objective LWT from the UEA. It’s no wonder it’s been such a relatively dry Winter so far, and why there has been so many foggy days and frosty mornings. So despite the anticyclonicity we have seen very little in the way of easterly types (AE, ANE or ASE) so far this Winter (fig 2), although the circulation may have become blocked at times, it appears that the block may well have sat over or just to the east of the British Isles rather than over Scandinavia.

Figure 2 – Data courtesy of CRU at UEA

Here’s what the Autumn of 2016 (fig 3) and December 2016 (fig 4) looked like across Europe with regard to precipitation.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the CPC at NOAA

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the CPC at NOAA

Of course this article will probably put the kiss of death on what’s left of the Winter as far as high pressure is concerned, and we will see non-stop gales right through February, but hold on, high pressure may still play a part in February’s weather according to the Met Office latest extended outlook (fig 5).

Figure 5 – Courtesy of the Met Office

There are a lot of references to gales in the northwest in that forecast, the GFS seems to have other ideas about that for early next week though…

Figure 6 – Courtesy of OGIMET

This solution is not supported at all by the ECMWF (fig 7), who seem to have problems labelling highs and lows at the moment…

Figure 7 – Courtesy of the ECMWF

But not to be outdone, they do manage to run a ferocious looking low up the English channel in ten days time (fig 8). I’ll be watching eagerly to see just how the Met Office do, and if any gales we do get in the next 30 days are indeed limited to the northwest.

Figure 8 – Courtesy of the ECMWF