The Met Office has defended its forecast for a hot, dry summer despite some areas looking set to have the most rain since records began.
Photo: GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY.
As summer officially came to a close amid extreme downpours on Monday, the forecaster was left facing questions about why it predicted a ‘drier-than-average’ season even though a strong El Nino climate event was expected.
El Ninos occur in the Pacific every two to seven years as east to west trade winds drop, heating up ocean surface temperature and triggering global weather changes. In May the Met Office said that it ‘wouldn’t expect (El Nino) to be the dominant driver of our weather’ in the summer months.
Yet this weekend Met Office chief scientist Professor Dame Julia Slingo said that the El Nino phenomenon had disturbed weather patterns, which might have been predicted.
“No-one can deny that we have had a pretty disappointing summer with a lot of unsettled weather and only a few warm spells, especially through July and August,” she said.
“Looking back over past El Ninos, you could have expected that a more unsettled summer might be on the cards for the UK.
“Seasonal forecasts for this summer suggested that temperatures and rainfall would be near normal. However, as the season progressed all the leading models around the world failed to capture the signal for unsettled weather over the UK.
“We all know that forecasting months and seasons ahead is still in its infancy and much more research needs to be done.”
Although figures are still being finalised, forecasters said Cornwall was on course to experience its wettest August since records began in 1912.
“Cornwall seems to have really borne the brunt of the bad weather over the last few weeks, so it could end up breaking records for rainfall, we’re keeping an eye on weather stations there,” said Met Office forecaster Stephen Keates.
The summer was also chillier than usual with June 1 to August 26 average 57F (14), a whole degree cooler than usual, and colder than all but four summers since 1988.