Risk of wettest winter for 30 years ‘exaggerated’

The Met Office has poured cold water on suggestions that Britain is set for another washout this winter.

Last winter was the wettest on record and vast swathes of farmland on the Somerset Levels and in the Thames region were submerged for months, causing misery for farmers.

After a soggy start to November, media reports earlier this week claimed forecasters were predicting the wettest winter in 30 years.

But the Met Office has distanced itself from such reports and said there appeared to have been a “misunderstanding” of its three-month outlook for contingency planners.

See also: Met office predicts ‘wetter than normal’ winter

A Met Office spokesman said: “First of all, last winter was the wettest in our digital records dating back to 1910, so if we were to have a wetter winter than that it would be the wettest in over a century – not just for 30 years.

“But that’s not what our contingency planners outlook says. As we’ve pointed out many times in the past, this product isn’t like our short range forecasts – it doesn’t tell you definitively what the weather is going to be and that’s why it’s not really that useful for the public.

“What it does do is make an assessment of the ‘likelihood’ of seeing wetter or drier than average, and milder or colder than average conditions for the whole of the UK for the whole three-month period.”

In its three-month outlook for winter, the Met Office suggested “an increased risk of milder and wetter than average conditions”.

This is exactly what the UK has seen through October and the start of November. Indeed, early statistics up to 16 November show that the month has been generally warm and very wet (see map).

The mean temperature for the UK was 8.1C, which is 1.9C above the long-term (1981-2010) average for the whole month.

weather map

© Crown copyright/Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0

The mildest places compared to average have been in the South East of England and East Anglia – which are both around 2.5C above average.

However, after 16 days of the month forecasters would expect about 53% of the full-month average rainfall to have fallen in a “normal” November, but the UK has already seen 77% (93.1mm).

Overall, the UK is on course for another mild and wet month – but forecasters say it is too early to say exactly where this November will end up until the full-month figures are included.

However, despite the uncertain outlook for winter, one Somerset farmer is taking no chances.

Sam Notaro built a dam around Dyers Farm to keep floodwaters at bay around his farmhouse last winter. Over the last few weeks, a team of diggers has been out building an even bigger dam in the event of further wet weather this winter.

Mr Notaro, nicknamed “King Canute” by locals, said although the local council had dredged some rivers he was concerned that not enough work has been done to prevent future floods.



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