The latest Met Office mobile app

The Met Office have launched their new weather forecast mobile app a couple of days ago (24th May) to little fanfare as far as I could detect. According to them the new app will enable people to stay both safe and one step ahead of the weather, and give confidence to those planning their day wherever they are. They say that they have developed the mobile experience by using real-time consumer feedback (I wonder if they consulted the Weatherlawyer), and apparently the new app delivers faster, more accurate forecast information and warnings to the public, across both iOS and Android devices for up to seven days in advance.

It’s true this app is mobile, in fact it’s so mobile that I can neither download it or install it on my Android Nexus 5 or Nexus 10, aren’t tablets classed as mobile devices? Why can it only be installed on a smartphone, even then that wouldn’t be much good to me because I use a Windows phone. I’m not clear why they’ve restricted the type of devices this app can run on when the old app worked just fine on tablets – perhaps they have something else in the pipeline – maybe a special device for tablets and even the desktop because I’ve heard some unenlightened people are still using them? I seriously doubt this will happen, but I can live in hope.

So instead of an in-depth review here are two screenshots of the app in action, judging by these images it looks like it has been smartened up a bit, but nothing has fundamentally changed.

app1 app2

The Met Office Weather app is the only app on the market to feature pollen alerts and a UK rainfall map video of both forecasts and radar observations, as well as real-time air pollution figures, to help users plan for the expected conditions. In addition to the new updates, the app can provide a weekly snapshot of the weather for multiple locations and also personalises the delivery of information to focus in on the user’s specific requirements. Hourly updates and push notifications are available for those on the go, while the delivery of UK National Severe Weather Warnings are vital to ensure planning and safety in the event of severe snow, strong winds, ice or fog.

What I would personally like to see is 5 minute lightning reports which would push out an alert for any walker or golfer if a storm was within a certain radius. It maybe in there it’s hard to tell on the basis of just four screenshots, I seriously doubt that would happen because of the risk of litigation if some golfer was struck down on the 18th and they hadn’t been alerted. I would like to see extended NWP forecast frames out to at least T+240 and not just MSLP fields either, but again that maybe too close to selling of the family silver for that to happen.

A cold day in May

I bet yesterday – Wednesday the 25th of May 2016 – came across as a bit of a shock to some people in Eastern England. The first three weeks of May have been quite warm with the mean CET anomaly pushing +2°C, but yesterday the 06-18 maximum daytime temperatures at most sites in eastern counties were as much as 7 or 8°C below the long-term average. I noticed that St James Park in London was #2 in the largest negative anomalies, although it did manage to get to 14.8°C in mid-Devon.

Maximum Temperature Anomaly [06-18] UTC on Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Maximum Temperature Anomaly [06-18] UTC on Wednesday, 25 May 2016

It isn’t the first time this year that a particular weather situation has thrown up a low from the continent that tracks westwards rather than the usual eastwards, and looking at the latest NWP model forecasts for next week, it won’t be the last.

Synops for Wed, 25 May 2016 at 1800 UTC
Synops for Wed, 25 May 2016 at 1800 UTC

Global Temperatures April 2016

I’ve never used interactive charts before so this is a first time for me in WordPress. It uses the Amazon cloud to hold the chart and data but the lite version from Highcharts is free to use, let me know what you think. It shows all the monthly April anomalies since 1880 from NOAA’s GISS series. These values are combined land and sea mean surface temperature anomalies using the 1951-1980 long-term average. As you can see the trend is ever upward, and it’s plain to see that April 2016 was the warmest on record by far. Below is a screenshot from my Global temperature application showing the same thing, plus a 136 & 50 year linear trends.

April surface temperature anomalies GISS Global Land & Sea

The second graphic is a tabulated grid of recent monthly anomalies. The selected column and row coloured yellow is not working so I’ll have to try to come up with a fix for that and add it to my to-do list.

Tabulated April surface temperature anomalies GISS Global Land & Sea 1880 - 2016

Possibly the warmest May on record?

I have read reports that this month will end up being the warmest May on record thanks to a heat wave in the last 10 days of the month. Going by the latest provisional values of the Central England Temperature [CET] series, so far this month (up until the 20th) that looks a total impossibility. A quick bit of calculation to see just how hot the last 11 days of the month would have to be to beat May 1833 reveals that the daily mean would have to exceed 20.1°C for every remaining day of the month. The people who are making these predictions obviously didn’t realise just how exceptionally warm May 1833 was, +4.64°C above the long-term average. Currently May 2016 is tracking just inside the top twenty warmest at #19, with a mean anomaly of +1.97°C, which in itself is very high. Even if the short cold spell between the 14-16th hadn’t occurred it still wouldn’t have been anywhere close to beating 1833.

Daily Central England Temperature Warmest start to a May 1772 - 2016
Daily Central England Temperature Warmest start to a May 1772 – 2016

Remember you can keep an eye on the latest CET values in these special static pages dedicated to them.

Continuing collapse of Antarctic ice shelves will affect us all


Continuing collapse of Antarctic ice shelves will affect us all

Aircraft contrails bring warmer nights and conspiracy theories


News from the BBC: Aircraft contrails bring warmer nights and conspiracy theories

England and Wales getting wetter

The annual trend in rainfall indicated by the England Wales Precipitation [EWP] series maintained by the Met Office is upward since 1766 when the series started. I have been studying this data for a few years now and I think the best way of looking at the individual monthly totals is by using a 12 month running mean. This removes a lot of the noise you get from any one dry or wet month or season. After that you can add a linear trend through the results to identify what the real trend over time reveals. The first chart does just that and shows that in the last 250 years the annual rainfall for England Wales has increased by 46.5 mm. We do moan at times about the rain and the occasional floods that we have to endure but looking at the record of the last 250 years, the one thing you can’t say is that we’ve ever gone without! In fact for all the oscillating the trace does it never ever drops below 650 or climbs much above 1250 mm a year.

EWP Jan 1767 - Apr 2016
EWP Jan 1767 – Apr 2016

If we zoom in a little to the last 50 years (see chart below) the wetter trend has increased to 65.2 mm. The dry years of 1975 and 1976 are clearly discernible along with the recent wet years and flooding that occurred in 2000, 2007 and 2012. Conversely the last 50 years have also had some noticeable dry spells, notably in 1976 but more recently in 2011.

Monthly England Wales Precipitation - Apr 1966 - Apr 2016
Monthly England Wales Precipitation – Apr 1966 – Apr 2016

At the moment we are in a wet streak as the Americans like to call it, with an accumulated total of 1,128.9 mm in the 12 months to April, this is +23.4% above the 1961-1990 long-term average for 12 months. There is a definite pulse in the annual rainfall totals, its erratic and at times incoherent. I just wonder what the rest of 2016 will bring in the way of rainfall for England Wales?

PS Don’t forget I have static pages setup to display monthly rainfall charts and table from the EWP series and which I’ll endeavour to keep updated. I also keep tabs on the Met Office HadUKP site.

Ice Saints

As Wikipedia points out – Ice Saints is a The Ice Saints is a name given to St. Mamertus (or, in some countries, St. Boniface of Tarsus), St. Pancras, and St. Servatius in Austrian, Belgian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, North-Italian, Polish, Slovene and Swiss folklore. They are so named because their feast days fall on the days of May 11, May 12, and May 13 respectively, known as the “black-thorn winter”.

The period from May 12 to May 15 was noted to bring a brief spell of colder weather in many years, including the last nightly frosts of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere under the Julian Calendar. The introduction of the Gregorian Calendar in 1582 involved skipping 10 days in the calendar, so that the equivalent days from the climatic point of view became May 22–25.

Ignoring the spanner in the works that the change of calendar introduces – I decided to rework the code in my Central England Temperature [CET] application just to see if there was any evidence in the CET series to justify this singularity. Below is the list since 1970 (let me know if you want more), and as you can see Ice Saints do happen and more often than you might think, but by now the effort in just writing the extraction and plotting routines had got to me. It’s obvious to me from the scatter graph that you can’t say for certain that this singularity does exist and can be relied on for those specific dates in May, certainly H.H.Lamb didn’t think a lot of it in his book “The English Climate”, even though it does coincide with one of Buchan’s infamous cold spells, but it does coincide nicely with what Lamb calls the “Spring Northerlies” (16 April to 20th May).

The way I investigate it was to look at three five-day periods 6-10 May, 11-15 May and the 16-20 May. I then calculated the anomaly of each of these three pentads, calling them A, B and C, and then compared the difference between A and B and then B and C for each year since 1772.

Daily Central England Temperature Ice Saints Singularity Comparison 1772-2016
Daily Central England Temperature Ice Saints Singularity Comparison 1772-2016
Daily Central England Temperature SubTitle
Daily Central England Temperature Ice Saints Singularity Comparison 1772-2016

The most striking Ice Saints of recent years in the CET series was in 2010 and here are the analysis charts for that time. As you can see a northerly outbreak very similar to the one occurring this year (2016) was responsible. This period is after all when the peak frequency of N’ly types in the Lamb Weather Type [LWT] series occur. It certainly put paid to the unusual early warm spell that we had been experiencing up until the 13th, and ruined any real chance of an Ice Saints for 2016.

8 May -21 May 2010 (courtesy of the Met Office)
8 May -21 May 2010 (courtesy of the Met Office)
Daily CET Spring 2010
Daily CET Spring 2010

Probably the most severe examples of Ice Saints since 1772 occurred in 1830 and 1816 as you can see in the scatter plot chart.

CET Spring 1830
CET Spring 1830
CET Spring 1816
CET Spring 1816

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed just a very slight cooling in the daily CET graphs (above) of the 1961-1990 long-term average (the green filled area series) between the 13th and 18th of May.

BBC News: Sentinel’s first map of sea-surface ‘hills and valleys’

Sentinel’s first map of sea-surface ‘hills and valleys’ –

Dutch top 10 storms

According to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute [KNMI or Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut] the top ten storms that have affected the Netherlands in recent years are:

  1. January 25, 1990
  2. January 3, 1976
  3. April 2, 1973
  4. November 13, 1972
  5. November 27, 1983
  6. October 27, 2002
  7. February 26, 1990
  8. February 1, 1983
  9. December 24, 1977
  10. January 16, 1974

They don’t say how far they go back but I bet they stop before the 31st of January 1953. They do describe how they work out the magnitude of the storms in their list though, and rather gratifyingly they use the same simple method that I came up with! All that they do is add all the mean speeds from a network of their observing stations and take the average over the duration of the storm. The problem that I found with this method is – defining the exact start and end of a storm – i.e. when do you start and stop counting. Anyway I do seem to have SYNOP data for 9 out of the 10 storms (#4 occurred before the start of my SYNOP records) so here are plotted charts for each of them in what should be descending order:

Synops for Thu, 25 Jan 1990 at 1800 UTC
Synops for Sat, 3 Jan 1976 at 0000 UTC
Synops for Mon, 2 Apr 1973 at 1800 UTC
Synops for Sun, 27 Nov 1983 at 0600 UTC
Synops for Sun, 27 Oct 2002 at 1200 UTC
Synops for Mon, 26 Feb 1990 at 1200 UTC
Synops for Tue, 1 Feb 1983 at 1200 UTC
Synops for Sat, 24 Dec 1977 at 1200 UTC
Synops for Thu, 17 Jan 1974 at 0000 UTC

As you can see they all seem to follow a very similar scenario. A low tracks across the central North Sea and on into Denmark or northern Germany, surface winds strengthen to gale force from the south or southwest, before veering to the west or northwest. It’s so different from the British Isles because we are an Island and are far more exposed than the Dutch are to storms from a variety of quarters.