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Scaife’s Claim To Have Told Govt Contradicts Met Office’s Version

March 5, 2018

By Paul Homewood


This is a story that was widely reported yesterday:



Published: 10:36, 4 March 2018

Ministers were warned about the Beast from the East a month ago by a Met Office forecaster who stockpiled provisions in preparation for the weather bomb.

Professor Adam Schaife, head of long-range forecasting at the Met Office, alerted the Cabinet Office to the incoming weather bomb four weeks ago.

He told them that they should expect Britain to be battered by a deep freeze.

In preparation for the polar vortex he stocked up on essentials.

‘I got extra oil, food and logs in, knowing this was coming,’ he said last week.



Prof Schaife’s team spotted the massive storm system, which was later dubbed the Beast from the East, growing near India and the Pacific Ocean.

The heaving mass moved east, spreading outwards and warming the stratosphere, 20 miles above the North Pole, by 50 degrees celsius in two days, bringing icy winds and heavy snow to swathes of Europe.

He also revealed that a similar weather pattern had caused the glacial freezes of February 2009 and 2013.

‘We recognised the pattern because we’d seen it before,’ he said.

He added the Met Office’s modelling had improved allowing it to detect extreme winter patterns much earlier.


The story originally appeared in The Times, to whom Scaife gave his account, and this agree with the Mail version.

Strangely though, Scaife’s (not Schaife!) account does not tally with the official Met Office warnings.

Let’s start with the Met Office’s 3-Month outlook, which was published on 26th January:




Not only did they not predict the SSW event, they even said there was “little likelihood” of one. (It is worth noting that, as long range forecaster, Scaife is responsible for this).


OK, this was at the end of January, and Scaife claims that he knew about it four weeks ago, around 3rd Feb, so maybe there was no signs of the cold weather in the week beforehand.

If we look at the Met Office’s News Release archives, here, we find that the earliest mention of any anything untoward was on 9th Feb. (The previous news release was on 5th Feb, and made no mention at all of anything unusually cold coming).


It’s not unusual to experience cold conditions in February – the last month of meteorological winter.

The current cold weather is being influenced by a polar maritime air mass with its origins over Canada. This is expected to continue affecting the UK for much of the next week, with only brief milder interludes affecting southern parts of the country.

For an insight into the longer-term prospects, our meteorologists are monitoring the stratosphere – a high layer in the atmosphere above the region containing most of our weather.  Initial observations are recording a warming of the stratosphere over the North Pole, suggesting an atmospheric event known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming is about to occur, where the stratospheric temperature can rise by 50 °C. When this event has occurred previously it has often led to cold conditions across the UK, linked to a weakening of the polar jet stream – the high-altitude ribbon of air which steers weather systems towards us from the Atlantic.

Matthew Lewis is a Deputy Chief Operational Meteorologist. He said: “A Sudden Stratospheric Warming event is now expected to occur and will peak over the coming week. The resulting impact on the weather in the UK is still hugely uncertain, but there are some signs of conditions that an easterly flow could develop across Europe. Although we wouldn’t expect continuously cold conditions there is a greater chance of cold conditions recurring.” 

So, by 9th Feb the Met Office had an inkling of SSW occurring, but had very little idea of how it would affect the UK, just that there was a chance of cold conditions.

Given that this was winter, there was hardly anything alarming or surprising about this. And certainly nothing to justify emergency action on the part of the government.


The next instalment came on 12th Feb:

Last week we highlighted that a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event could affect our weather later this month. This sudden stratospheric warming has now happened and we are monitoring its influence. There is a lag time between a sudden stratospheric warming and any impact it might deliver to UK weather conditions: so it is too soon to determine exactly what impacts it could have on our weather in the UK.

However, there are some signs that high pressure could build over Europe resulting in an easterly flow. Although we wouldn’t expect continuously cold conditions, there is a greater chance of blocked conditions reccurring.


So, little had changed since 9th Feb, they still had little idea of how it would affect UK weather, and there was certainly no indication of any extreme weather heading our way.


It was not till 16th Feb that they said:

There is increasing confidence that the recent Sudden Stratospheric Warming above the North Pole could lead to prolonged cold conditions over the UK, increasing the risk of easterly wind and significant snow


By that stage, this was common knowledge amongst meteorologists around the world.

Scaife has serious questions to answer.

If he really did give the Cabinet Office detailed advice about the severe freeze up at the beginning of February, then why did the Met Office not include the warning in their news releases until just over a week before?

On the other hand, if what the Met Office has said is correct, then Scaife is guilty of misrepresenting his advice to the Cabinet Office. He may well have said that there was a chance of some cold weather arriving, but to pretend he warned them about “the beast from the east”, as The Times claims, is clearly deeply misleading.


This is also an embarrassing episode for the Met Office, not least because they failed to predict the beast in their 3-Month Outlook at the end of January. This is despite Scaife’s claim on 16th Feb that signs of this event appeared in forecasts from late January.

Interestingly the Telegraph, who also cover the story, state “The Met Office said Mr Scaife was referring to a three-month outlook and that the extent of the cold weather only became clear around 10 days before it hit”


Make what you will of the reference to the 3-Month Outlook!!

  1. Joe Public permalink
    March 5, 2018 6:20 pm

    This will never be wrong:

  2. donald penman permalink
    March 5, 2018 6:51 pm

    The weather models were predicting a SSW at the end of January but this kept getting pushed back further and further until it occurred in February I followed this on Gavs weather videos on youtube , The polar stratosphere was very cold before this warming and westerly’s were very strong.

  3. TinyCO2 permalink
    March 5, 2018 6:55 pm

    Since their predictions have just about any eventuality, with a probability value, they can honestly say they always get the prediction right. It’s just everyone else that doesn’t understand probabilities. in 2010 they said the winter would likely be 33% wetter than average, 33% average and 33% drier than average. I assumed the missing 1% was ‘anything else’. So no matter what happened they weren’t wrong. As it happened there was heavy snow and then deep frost – which best fit the ‘other’ category. So you see, they weren’t wrong.

  4. March 5, 2018 7:09 pm

    The Met Office’s own SSW explainer says:
    Currently we can reliably predict individual SSWs about a week in advance, and we can detect them early on with satellite and other observations.

    So knowing about one in any detail several weeks in advance would not be ‘reliable’?

    • RAH permalink
      March 5, 2018 11:14 pm

      Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell was talking about it at least 3-4 weeks before the event on his public videos and their clients get the information ahead of that. I watch every single one of his free videos. When corporations and others pay private firms like Weatherbell for their forecasts instead of relying on what they can get for free from government sources that should tell you something about the difference in quality and the level of trust in the forecasts and the competence of personnel in government agencies charged with the responsibility.

      People tend to work harder and dig deeper when their income is based on their performance.

  5. donald penman permalink
    March 5, 2018 7:11 pm

    I was following the weather models on the same you tube source and it appeared to me that the high pressure started in the UK and moved up to Scandinavia and created a “Scandinavian high” which then drew in the winds from the east towards the UK . So as far as I could determine with my limited knowledge “the beast from the east” began with pressure changes in the UK and ended there with the big freeze.

    • March 5, 2018 7:38 pm

      See Met Office video in link above (SSW explainer) – with Prof Schaife.

  6. March 5, 2018 8:19 pm

    As I posted elsewhere, I have complained to my MP about Scaife’s misleading claims (lies).

    Here is the heart of what I wrote:

    “On 26th January 2018 the Met Office issued its forecast for February to April 2018 in which it stated “For February-March-April above-average temperatures are more likely than below-average temperatures” and that there was “an increased likelihood of milder-than-usual conditions, at least in the first half of the 3-month period” and that “forecasting systems show little likelihood of a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) in February”[1]. Quite clearly the Met Office forecast was totally wrong.

    However, by 18th February 2018 the Met Office had changed its mind and stated “There is increasing confidence that the recent Sudden Stratospheric Warming above the North Pole could lead to prolonged cold conditions over the UK, increasing the risk of easterly wind and significant snow”. Prof Adam Scaife, head of monthly to decadal prediction work at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said “Signs of this event appeared in forecasts from late January”[2]. This statement by Prof Adam Scaife is clearly a lie.”

    I will post the response from my MP if ever I get one.

  7. Green Sand permalink
    March 5, 2018 10:25 pm

    Hello, hello? Just what goes on here?

    ‘Met Office chief executive sacked amid questions over ‘governance and management’ ‘

    “The Met Office has been plunged into crisis after its chief executive was sacked over problems with “governance and management controls” at the £170 million a year public body.

    Rob Varley was ordered to resign from his £160,000 post by the most senior civil servant at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which oversees the national weather service.

    Mr Varley, who had worked at the Met Office for 34 years beginning as a trainee forecaster in 1983, agreed to step aside……”

    Sacked? Met Office CEO sacked? Must be either murder or treason!

    • dearieme permalink
      March 5, 2018 11:46 pm

      Wasn’t Julian Hunt edged out of the Met Office after some sort of financial infelicity?
      Twice in a couple of decades is surely rather careless.

    • March 6, 2018 9:20 am

      “He agreed to step down after being told to step down”. Sacked! Resigned! Stepped down! Which one was it?

    • Kevin B permalink
      March 6, 2018 1:24 pm

      They have a lot of very expensive computing equipment at the Met Office. I wonder if there’s been a bit of crypto-currency mining going on?

      Might explain the low standard of their forecasts.

  8. John189 permalink
    March 6, 2018 12:10 am

    Parts of the Daily Mail article are just plain bizarre. Professor Scaife’s name is misspelt throughout; there is a reference to cold snaps in February 2009 and 2013 as if they were isolated instances whereas December 2009-January 2010 and December 2010 were more general UK phenomena, colder and more destructive – and of course in 2013 the long freeze was in January and the snowmageddon in March.

    But I was especially intrigued by the explanation attributed to Prof. Scaife that the SSW was caused by a storm system somewhere between “India and the Pacific”. Is there any evidence that SSW is triggered by storm systems moving west from the Pacific? And what has India got to do with it? – this last bit purely rhetorical, unless of course the sub-continent has been transported by an army of yetis to the vicinity of Japan.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      March 6, 2018 2:55 am

      You have nicely put my own interpretation of this.

      The mention of getting extra “logs” sounded odd. maybe this is a difference between English and American use. Still, this use made me wonder about the residence in which “logs” would be used. Open fire places are an inefficient way of heating a house. Prof Schaife, being highly educated and well paid would know this. Our house in Washington State is 100% electric, with a modern wood stove for emergencies. We cut, split, and stockpile “firewood” at about 40 cm. long. The log is about 9 m.
      However, as he does not seem to know where India is, maybe he doesn’t know much else either.
      Now, if SSW does originate near India, I apologize. I need to do more reading.

      • dave permalink
        March 6, 2018 12:47 pm

        “Logs” in England can be small or large. Open wood fires are part of the culture. A Frenchman wrote in the 18th Century:

        ‘The English love their fires – even though the heat goes up the chimney and the smoke goes out the front!”

      • RAH permalink
        March 6, 2018 2:27 pm

        John F. Hultquist
        “Open fire places are an inefficient way of heating a house. Prof Schaife, being highly educated and well paid would know this. ”

        I’m sure he knows that and so do I but I have an open fireplace in my house and use it when it gets really cold. Nothing like direct heat from burning wood. Our house has a NG furnace and when the electric goes out I can hook up a generator to keep the furnace running but when it gets really cold outside we have a fire in the fireplace in the evening too. My cat and dog love it. When I have a fire you’ll find both of them stretched out in front of it.

        Besides the heat there is nothing like the ambiance of a fire on Christmas morning with the family here, the tree with presents under it, and the stockings hung over the hearth.

        So I guess one could say it’s a luxury.

    • March 6, 2018 10:07 am

      Yes, I was baffled by the “India and Pacific” bit, but The Times carried the same wording

  9. Bitter@twisted permalink
    March 6, 2018 8:13 am

    The Met Orifice have got so used to lying, they forget when they are doing it.

  10. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 6, 2018 8:56 am

    I am confused – is he claiming he gave warnings separate from Met Office advice? Or did he just head up Met Office advice?

  11. Athelstan permalink
    March 6, 2018 11:41 am

    Scaife’s spent too long in the alarmist hothouse, clearly his brains have been boiled away, the thing about a storm between India and the Pacific – wtf?

    Of course SSW, it could be something extra terrestrial, not little green men but summat to do with that big shiny object in the sky, yeah I know, I’ve gone a bit cosmic……electromagnetism on my brain and ray bespectacled, and yes admittedly, is that, I know BA about it, maybe I should apply for a job in Exeter Hadley space cadets academy.

    Finally, have similar events (SSW) occured/been observed on, thereabouts the Southern polar contintent and would the British Antarctic Survey tell us anyway?

  12. Bloke down the pub permalink
    March 6, 2018 12:29 pm

    The Met Office forecasts are about as useful as the ones Jeremy Paxman used to give on Newsnight, though probably not as accurate.

  13. March 6, 2018 12:51 pm

    SSWs have always occurred but they seem to be stronger and more persistent when solar activity is low.

    I have incorporated the SSW phenomena into a more general solar induced climate change hypothesis here:

    The evidence seems to support the sun affecting ozone amounts in the polar stratosphere as the primary cause with perhaps a feedback via storm systems in the troposphere which are enhanced when the jet stream tracks become more wavy.

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 6, 2018 2:45 pm

      The presence of a layer of ozone in the stratosphere is the cause of the temperature inversion that forms at the tropopause. That layer of ozone is warmed directly by incoming solar radiation. It is warmer than the rising air coming up from the surface below, so it effectively puts a lid on convection.

      And having once studied Geology, this is fascinating stuff:

      Andersson et al describe it as having a short term regional effect, with no implications for global or long term climate change. But if the effect is significant between the peak and trough of a single solar cycle, then surely it is also going to be significant over the millennial cycle of solar variation — such as that observed from the Medieval Warm Period through the Little Ice Age and up to date.

      Observations of climate changes across the last thousand years suggest that it must be so. In the Medieval Warm Period, Greenland had agriculture and the Western Isles of Scotland were prosperous with a much larger population than today—which implies more poleward climate zones and zonal jets at that time. In contrast, ships logs from the Little Ice Age show much greater Atlantic storminess and more equatorward mid latitude depression tracks at that time (depressions generally follow the tracks of the jet streams).

      and this defo:

      It is also proposed that, over time, the changes at the higher mesospheric level dominate because the higher level effect gradually filters down to lower levels through the descending column of air within the polar vortices as described above. This links observed changes in the size of the ozone holes at the poles to solar causation rather than to human emissions of CFCs. The ozone holes grew when the Sun was active and are now shrinking with the less active Sun.

      Food for thought and deep musing, I love this sort of stuff, ta very much to Mr. Stephen Wilde and M.E.Andersson et al.

      • Broadlands permalink
        March 6, 2018 4:50 pm

        “This links observed changes in the size of the ozone holes at the poles to solar causation rather than to human emissions of CFCs.”

        Yes, this is a very common mistake to conflate the depth of the depletion with the area (size)… in Antarctica. There has not been a “hole” in the Arctic…yet. The total column ozone must go below about 220 DU.

      • dennisambler permalink
        March 7, 2018 11:39 am

        There has never been a hole in the Antarctic ozone layer, even well below 220 DU, just an annual thinning and recovery.

        In a paper titled “Forty Years’ Research on Atmospheric Ozone at Oxford: A History” (Applied Optics, March 1968), Dobson described an ozone monitoring program that began at Halley Bay in 1956.

        “When the data began to arrive, “the values in September and October 1956 were about 150 [Dobson] units lower than expected. … In November the ozone values suddenly jumped up to those expected. … It was not until a year later, when the same type of annual variation was repeated, that we realized that the early results were indeed correct and that Halley Bay showed a most interesting difference from other parts of the world.”

        The BAS web site data for 2009-10 reported that:
        “Ozone values dropped, to reach a minimum of around 125 DU (60% depletion) in late September, (Antarctic spring). The lowest daily value measured was 107 DU on October 1. This minimum value is similar to those recorded each October since the early 1990s.”

        It is also similar to those in the spring of 1958 at the French Antarctic Observatory at Dumont d’Urville [opposite side of the South Pole from Halley Bay], when Rigaud and Leroy [quoted in Annales Geophysicae (November, 1990)] reported atmospheric ozone levels as low as 110 DU.

      • March 7, 2018 6:31 pm

        I agree that the tern ‘hole’ is misleading since it is really only a variation in ozone quantities.

        The important thing to appreciate is that my hypothesis proposes that an active sun reduces ozone above 45km over the poles but increases it below 45km over the equator and the opposite occurs when the sun is quiet.

        That is what forces the changes in jet stream behaviour thereby changing global cloudiness for a warming or cooling effect.

  14. Gerry, England permalink
    March 6, 2018 1:47 pm

    Would the Cabinet Office reply to an FOIA request for any correspondence received from the MetO and Scaife during the period in question?

    • March 6, 2018 1:48 pm

      Just what I was going to send for!

      • Athelstan permalink
        March 6, 2018 2:47 pm

        Probably be a long wait Paul.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 8, 2018 1:49 pm

        They will try to claim that it would breach national security to release it.

  15. Katabasis permalink
    March 6, 2018 2:40 pm


    Now this reminds me of something very similar a few years ago:

  16. March 6, 2018 4:22 pm

    Congrats – you win a Josh Cartoon!

    • Athelstan permalink
      March 6, 2018 4:28 pm

      Nice one Josh, nice on Paul.

    • Bitter@twisted permalink
      March 6, 2018 11:04 pm

      Brilliant, as always, Josh.
      Keep up the good work!

  17. Tony McKenna permalink
    March 7, 2018 8:30 pm

    So the reaction of this true believe in man made climate disaster wasn’t to find an extra sweater. It was to ORDER MORE HEATING OIL. And he is proud that he did so.

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