Cold is the main feature of this winter
BRITAIN faces a freezing winter and yesterday’s unseasonal snowfall is just the start, the Met Office has predicted.
By Alistair Grant and Sian Hewitt
But, after predictions of a “barbecue summer” were ridiculed in 2010, it no longer releases such forecasts to the public.
Despite that, the Daily Star Sunday has seen the document and can reveal:
It is almost twice as likely that temperatures will be “well below average” than “well above average” from November to January.
The most-likely scenario is “slightly below-average” temperatures for the next three months.
Predicted average precipitation combined with cold conditions could lead to heavy snowfall following last year’s drier than average winter.
More high pressure is predicted over the coming months, which could cut off mild Atlantic air and lead to a repeat of December 2010’s big freeze, when the mercury fell to -22C and caused transport chaos.
Also, more snow could fall than last winter, which was much drier than average in England.
This winter shows a “preference” for average precipitation levels, meaning more snow if temperatures tumble.
Last year saw the mildest winter since 2007-08 but this is unlikely to be repeated after falling temperatures in the north Atlantic and a weakening of the “El Nino” effect, the forecast said.
The Met Office said its winter outlook is based on forecast models, past observations and “expert forecaster judgment”.
It says the system uses new software which spots cold weather patterns that could previously have been missed.
Met Office expert Dave Britton said: “This contingency forecast, based on percentage probabilities, forms all of the information we brief into Government, the Cabinet Office, councils, emergency responders and local winter resilience groups.”
Meanwhile, two independent forecasters have predicted a bitter winter ahead.
British Weather Services projected a colder than average winter with “significant” snow, -18C temperatures and transport disruption.
WeatherWeb warned of repeated chilly spells and added: “Cold is the main feature of this winter.”
The warning came as freak snow showers hit eastern Britain in the worst October cold snap since 2008.
Yesterday the UK was cooler than the Arctic after temperatures fell to -7C in some areas.
The North bore the brunt of the bad conditions.
Five inches of snow settled in Aberdeen and Newcastle saw an inch of the white stuff. Even London got a dusting, which experts said was a “once in 50 years” event.