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Another Beast From The East?

January 4, 2019

By Paul Homewood


Will it be cold this month? Don’t bother asking the Met Office!



There have been many headlines in recent days proclaiming a return of the ‘Beast from the East’ and ‘triple polar vortex to trigger heavy snow’ with bookies reportedly cutting the odds that this month will end as the coldest January on record following a sudden stratospheric warming high above the Arctic.

So, just how much truth lies behind these headlines and what can we really say about the weather for the coming month? Our Deputy Chief Meteorologist Jason Kelly explains.

Well, it is true that a sudden stratospheric warming has happened. The warming started around 22 December 2018 and the winds at around 30km above the North Pole have now reversed from westerly to easterly. At ground level we know that sudden stratospheric warmings tend to weaken the UK’s prevailing mild westerly winds, increasing the chances of us seeing colder weather a couple of weeks after a sudden stratospheric warming.

However, it’s important to note that not all sudden stratospheric warmings lead to colder-than-normal conditions over the UK and there are other global weather factors that result in blocked weather patterns and possible colder weather for us. These include El Niño and the Madden-Julian Oscillation that were well signalled in our 3-month outlook as early as the end of November.

Certainly, for the first ten days of January there is no strong signal for a cold easterly flow that was associated with the ‘Beast from the East’ last winter, and it’s too early to provide detailed forecasts for what the weather will be like for the remainder of January.

Our current 6-30 day forecast points to the likelihood of more mobile conditions before the arrival of anything that might potentially be colder. Towards the end of January, however, there is an increased likelihood of a change to much colder weather generally, bringing an enhanced risk of frost, fog and snow.

This cold spell is by no means certain though, and if you are hoping for, or need to prepare for possible cold and/or snowy weather, please keep up to date on our forecast pages and by following us on Twitter and Facebook.


They cannot forecast the weather beyond a week ahead, but assure us they know what the climate will be in 100 years time!

  1. January 4, 2019 11:01 am

    “This cold spell is by no means certain though, and if you are hoping for, or need to prepare for possible cold and/or snowy weather, please keep up to date on our forecast pages and by following us on Twitter and Facebook.”

    Presumably, if you don’t subscribe to twatter or farcebook, then you die.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 4, 2019 1:50 pm

      Or for greater accuracy, look out of the window.

      • Eddie P permalink
        January 4, 2019 3:13 pm

        Many moons ago when a student I was told that the Met. Office daily forecasts were generally about 64% accurate. If one looked out of the window and said that the weather tomorrow will be the same as today one was about 67% accurate. So Gerry has a point.

  2. January 4, 2019 11:26 am

    But Weather is highly complex – a chaotic system involving a large number of forcings and factors, many where the science is not sometimes fully understood, and requiring massive supercomputers to calculate approximate outcomes over the next few hours and days.

    Climate Science however is completely settled and very, very easy to model – just plug in a guess at the CO2 numbers for the next 20, 50, 100 years, let the alarmists massage the most frightening outputs and hey-diddle-diddle …….. we’re all doomed.

  3. HotScot permalink
    January 4, 2019 11:34 am

    They cannot forecast the weather beyond a week ahead, but assure us they know what the climate will be in 100 years time!

    Don’t say that in front of climate alarmists. They come up with all sorts of reasons the climate (weather) is predictable in 100 years time but not tomorrow.

    Sea shells, tree rings and ancient runes are robust predictors of the future. Ice cores tell us all about what’s going to happen next, as are 150 year old, sparse temperature records taken from badly maintained, ill calibrated Stevenson screens, occasionally, by tea boys; and, of course, deck hands chucking buckets over the sides of ships to no defined depth, using a finger as a thermometer.

    Satellites with degrading orbits and equipment & calibration issues are also excellent predictors, except they aren’t because they don’t agree at all with IPCC alarmist predictions. And of course Argo buoys are only uttered in whispers because they too don’t agree with the IPCC.

    Shamans and Voodoo science are pretty good though, but often confusing when 27,000 delegates to Poland all throw their bones simultaneously and end up with, well……a pile of old bones.

    Wars and migration are of course excellent indicators of climate change. I mean all those fleeing Syrians must know something we don’t, other than running from murderous tyrants is a good idea.

    Then there’s socialism. Well of course its always right about everything (except when it’s always wrong about everything) which tells us that in order to profit from socialism, one must terrorise ones subjects out of their money, to be trousered by the political elite who are rewarded for the best scare tactics with lots more taxpayers money.

    See, this climate lark is simple. 🙂

  4. Ken permalink
    January 4, 2019 12:25 pm

    This comment is off topic. When I load your site there is a pull down advert appearing across the top of the screen. I think this may be malicious and anyone clicking on it to close it may put their machine at risk. Do other site visitors see this pull down as well?

    • January 4, 2019 1:32 pm

      It might be your browser, Ken. I have no such problem; I use Opera as a browser. Neither do I have such a problem on the email, although there are sponsored adverts at the bottom.

      • HotScot permalink
        January 5, 2019 7:28 pm


        AhHa! A fellow Opera user.

        For Ken……Opera has a built in, free pop up killer which is very effective. Add to it Ghostery and you shouldn’t be bothered with much.

        Opera also has it’s own free proxy client built in if you care to switch it on. It’s far from the be all and end all of proxy clients but it does protect you from most browsing intrusion.

    • Rowland P permalink
      January 5, 2019 10:23 am

      I find that it happens when using Safari but not on Chrome. This is not the only site on which this happens. I don’t think it is anything to worry about but it is an irritating imposition.

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 4, 2019 12:44 pm

    Only a fool would try to forecast the UK weather with us near the continent but in the Atlantic, a few miles difference in the positioning of a pressure system in winter can easily make 15C difference.

    With their bigger continental areas reaching into the Arctic, it’s Eurasia and NA that can be fairly confidently predicted to see cold/snow.

    For the UK, you may as well flip a coin.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    January 4, 2019 1:26 pm

    I have fun watching the weather models (Met Office, GFS, CSF, ECMWF, etc.) all flap about from day to day trying (with their ‘well know science’) to predict what will happen.
    To be honest, and as the SSW back in February showed, they are for the most part clueless when this sort of thing happens. Until the atmosphere settles to the normal Westerly wind and a high pressure around the Azores they will be all over the place.

    Now remind me how much did we pay for the Met Office computer system? IMO, how ever much it was, it was too much.

    Also remember that the Climate models are just a glorified computer weather model programs that seeks (and fails) to find global trends in long term weather. Much of its basic operation comes from weather modeling and is just as reliable.

    Personally I find Gavin (an amateur weather forecaster and weather model watcher) at has a better ideas of what the UK’s weather will do than most. Here’s his thoughts on the SSW .

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 4, 2019 1:56 pm

      £90million, Old Chap. A snip…well it is when it is not your money. Weather forecasting used to be more accurate before the computers took over and removed all of the skill of preparing a forecast. I recall seeing how the BBC Met Office trained presenters such as Michael Fish et al used to put their forecast together using things like ‘charts’ and ‘data’. Now they just read out whatever guff the computer spews out. Good job we are not trying to land on the Normandy beaches these days. The fleet would either be blown away by unforeseen winds or sitting in harbours while the troops get a tan as it has turned out nice again.

  7. January 4, 2019 1:27 pm

    I’m guessing that “coldest January on record” involves some sort of restricted record that does not extend back to the Little Ice Age?

    The only way to get much colder than average is for much more air than average to arrive from the North. Something has to replace the extra air lost from the North, i.e. more air than average from the South, hence somewhere oop-North will be warmer than average, i.e. proof of AGW!

  8. January 4, 2019 1:30 pm

    It is officially winter in the Northern Hemisphere. There is a dire prediction for cold and snow. Perhaps it will even be really cold and really snowy.

    Who knew? Apparently, it has caught many by surprise.

  9. Broadlands permalink
    January 4, 2019 1:34 pm

    “They cannot forecast the weather beyond a week ahead, but assure us they know what the climate will be in 100 years time!”

    They assure us that a warming climate (and the cooling it can generate) is all because of our use of carbon as a source of energy with all the “waste” it produces. They assure us if we all act now to remove and bury the waste it will all get better. Just “renew” the climate to the “good ole days” when CO2 was only 350 ppm. Sounds simple enough to be “settled” science.

    • matelot 69 permalink
      January 4, 2019 2:27 pm

      I have often wondered whether the much vaunted “Acidification of the oceans due to excess CO2” square the formation of limestone and the survival of a myriad selection of sea shells survived the proven extremely high levels of CO2 before the last Ice Age………….

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        January 4, 2019 10:53 pm

        matelot 69:
        I like to point out the White Cliffs of Dover (+ the South Downs + the north west French coast) were laid down by microscopic sea life during the Cretaceous period when the CO2 was between 1600 and 1950 ppm. and sea levels were much higher.
        There is also the Jurassic Coast (around Lyme Regis) where the limestone cliffs were laid down when the CO2 level was even higher (up to 2700ppm).
        And incidentally the Jurassic was cooler than the Cretaceous despite its higher CO2 level.

  10. Richard Bell permalink
    January 4, 2019 2:49 pm

    Just watched JOE BASTARDI at with his daily update and he is predicting mid January in Europe / England to be VERY COLD with heavy snow in Germany !!! ….. He is a favorite of mine and is the best weather gut around.

  11. January 4, 2019 10:38 pm

    Snowing today in Greece.

    “Sophia” extreme weather front hits Greece with storms and low temperatures

  12. Emrys Jones permalink
    January 4, 2019 11:21 pm

    I note that that the Metcheck forecasts for the Atlantic jetstream show a basically northerly jetstream out until 20th Jan. I have found these forecasts to be consistent and stable out to 14 days, and certainly the jetstream is not as chaotic as the weather system of lower altitudes.

    A northerly jetsream over the UK usually means it gets bleedin’ cold.

  13. lloydr56 permalink
    January 6, 2019 5:22 pm

    Apparently being unable to predict for more than a week, while being able to predict for decades, is like coin tosses. Can’t predict a single toss, but we know over many tosses it will be 50/50. Warming of some significance–something for governments to deal with? 50/50. Specific downstream effects like storms? 50/50. Net effect of increased CO2 good or bad, taking benefit for plants into account? 50/50. Science.

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