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Sudden Stratospheric Warming On The Way?

January 2, 2021

By Paul Homewood



SSW on the way?




The second half of December has seen dramatic swings between different weather patterns. Storm Bella brought strong winds and flooding, while the current flow of air from the north is bringing colder conditions with ice and some snow across the UK. With dramatic changes in weather over the last two weeks, what is the pattern for the first half of January?

We expect the northerly feel to continue into the new year, however, as we look further ahead there are currently conflicting meteorological signals. To gain an understanding of the longer-term outlook forecasters need to look at signals from around the globe.

Adam Scaife, Head of Met Office long-range prediction, said: “Our latest forecasts now show that a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) is expected in the first week of January which will maintain the chances of colder weather throughout the coming month.

“During an SSW intense warming occurs high in the atmosphere at around 30km above the North Pole. This is accompanied by a complete reversal of the winds that circulate around the Arctic at high altitude and the mean wind direction switches from the usual strong winter westerlies to easterlies.

“The easterlies at high altitude then slowly burrow down towards the lower atmosphere where our weather occurs. This process increases the chances of colder weather right across Northern Europe for several weeks after the event first occurs high the stratosphere.”

Met Office Chief Meteorologist Paul Davies said: “It’s important to note that not all SSWs lead to colder-than-normal conditions over the UK and there are other global weather factors that can impact our winter weather. This year they include a La Nina.

“During La Nina the second half of the winter in the UK tends to be dominated by milder and wetter conditions which come from the Atlantic on an invigorated jet stream. In effect, we have two opposing forces for winter supremacy at play; the SSW and La Nina.

In the meantime, and consistent with a SSW in early January, our current 6-30 day forecast points to the  likelihood of the cold conditions experienced recently continuing through January.”


Of course, if the Beast from the East meets the Beast from the West over the UK, watch out!

  1. Ian Magness permalink
    January 2, 2021 10:46 am

    I for one cannot read Met Office reports any more without thinking “what’s this leading up to, what’s the agenda?”.
    In the final lead-up to XMas, the BBC weather reporters starting saying (national and local bulletins) that the daytime temperatures of 3C or 4C were “well below average for the time of year”. What? 4C “well below average” for the shortest day? Then as now, you are left deeply suspicious of the agenda.

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 2, 2021 10:55 am

    There’s an extraordinary area of surface temperature contrast in the Arctic at the moment, a pool of air possibly up to freezing point just above/North of central Siberia (no doubt we will hear all about it if it spins up over the N. Pole momentarily) and right below it a similarly enormous magnitude anomaly – but negative.

    When I posted about the SSW forecast before, I mentioned that it is that pool of cold air – now intensified – which is the potential beast, if everything comes together and an easterly progression sets in.

    Prepare for disappointment though, we’ll probably end up with a blocking pattern in the ‘wrong’ place and air from the Bahamas as per……

  3. Harry Davidson permalink
    January 2, 2021 10:57 am

    If you want to understand what the weather is doing/going to do, look at the North Atlantic jetstream.

    is good. The forecast is good for about 10 days out. It gives you a range of possibilities of the weather we are going to see. If it stays out of the southwest and straight over South Wales at speed, plan on staying home as much as possible. Northerly streams from Norway, it will be cold, fresh and delicious. The Met Office will tell you the details nearer the time.

    • dennisambler permalink
      January 2, 2021 2:20 pm

      “If it stays out of the southwest and straight over South Wales at speed, plan on staying home as much as possible. ”

      We haven’t got any choice, Uncle Mark won’t let us out….

      • Harry Davidson permalink
        January 2, 2021 2:39 pm

        “Uncle Mark”? Jeez, you’re feeling generous.

  4. bobn permalink
    January 2, 2021 11:02 am

    What utter twaddle.
    So they say they forecast cold dry easterlies or maybe milder wetter westerlies!
    They’re clueless, but no matter what they’ll blame it on magic SSWarming which no-one actually can identify.
    In reality (not Met office world) The persistent Arctic High is strong and the Azones High weak so the jetstream is weaker and meridonal (wavy) in flow. This is caused by the lack of warming from the south letting the jetstream and colder air move south. I learnt this in Aviation Met in the 1980’s, before computers and AGW theory stuffed up Met forecasting.
    UK will remain in cold north and easterly weak air flows until about 16 Jan, with the jetstream running over Spain and Med (expect flooding in spain, italy and Sth France). After 16th its possible the jet will flick north again over UK and we’ll have usual West Nor West winds to end of month. These would still be cold but windier and wetter. Too early to say for sure that Jet will move back north. Either way its staying chilly for the rest of January.

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 2, 2021 11:12 am

    The point which several people are missing is that an SSW event blows away all the current forecasts, and is an almost essential precursor to exceptionally cold weather in the UK – but far from a guarantee.

  6. Mad Mike permalink
    January 2, 2021 11:16 am

    With wind contributing 9% and solar 6% of generation right now it will be interesting to see what happens when /if the Beast returns. Demand is not very high at the moment either at around 35 GW

  7. bobn permalink
    January 2, 2021 11:17 am

    PS. Best nearterm snow event in England morning of Friday 8 Jan.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      January 2, 2021 12:32 pm

      We had a very small amount of snow here before Christmas but none since here in East Kent. Actually I feel rather aggrieved that we are experiencing all the discomfort of near zero temperatures and none of the attractive sights of snow laden landscapes.

  8. Gerry, England permalink
    January 2, 2021 12:43 pm

    That is the wonder of the Met Office – they can tell you what it will be like in 2100 or 50 years ahead but have no idea about the month ahead.

    It is interesting to search for the weather in your area and open up every site that appears in the results to see how different they are. wundergound changes its forecasts on the actual day as it progresses – I noticed that after it started raining and I thought ‘that wasn’t in the forecast this morning’. Oh, but it is now. LOL

    • jack broughton permalink
      January 2, 2021 9:04 pm

      These were my thoughts exactly. 50 year forecasts …. easy.
      Seriously, is weather forecasting really any better than in the 1960s / 1970s when charts were used. The satellites and computers do not seem to have improved the accuracy to me, but I have no means of checking: would be interested to know if there is a way of checking the accuracy of forecasts on say the three-day basis..

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 3, 2021 12:18 pm

        Countryman and former One Man and His Dog presenter Robin Page commented on this very thing in the foreword to a book he wrote. His view was that it is worse now with computer models. I can recall seeing a programme that showed how the BBC weather forecasts were put together. It might have been Bill Giles who showed how they gathered the various charts and data and made their forecast based on that given at that time they were all trained Met Office meteorologists. Neither ‘global warming’ nor ‘climate change’ had as yet been invented. On one late night forecast, the presenter actually admitted live on air that their models did not work with a meridianal jetstream only with a zonal one.

        And to think that the outcome of WW2 in Europe hinged on the decision of a weather forecaster.

      • Beagle permalink
        January 3, 2021 1:36 pm

        I tend to rely on my phone app for the weather forecasts for the next 4 hours and even then they are not always right.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 3, 2021 10:16 am

      Such criticisms aren’t really valid. I can be pretty certain that GDP in ten years time will be a fair bit higher than today but I have no ability whatsoever to tell you what it will be in 6 months time. I can tell you what the average age of people in the UK will be in ten years time but not whether I will be alive in ten minutes. The inability to forecast accurately near term doesn’t imply an inability to forecast accurately long term. Not that I don’t disbelieve the long term Alarmist forecasts, it’s just that they are wrong for other reasons.

      • dave permalink
        January 4, 2021 10:14 am

        “The inability…”

        I would just amplify that cogent sentence a little:

        “The inability to forecast [details] accurately near term doesn’t imply an inability to forecast [the broad picture] accurately long term.”

        If I naively sit down to a poker game, ‘for fun,’ with a smooth hustler, I can’t forecast whether I will be ahead or not after an hour, but I can be completely certain that I will be broke before the sun rises on the next day.

      • January 4, 2021 8:27 pm

        Phoenix44, you say:

        “Such criticisms aren’t really valid. I can be pretty certain that GDP in ten years time will be a fair bit higher than today but I have no ability whatsoever to tell you what it will be in 6 months time. I can tell you what the average age of people in the UK will be in ten years time but not whether I will be alive in ten minutes. The inability to forecast accurately near term doesn’t imply an inability to forecast accurately long term.”

        Phoenix, that depends on whether both short and long term conditions are chaotic.

        Here’s an example. You can’t tell what the next throw of the dice will be. But you can be sure that if you throw a die 10,000 times, you’ll get the same proportion of the throws for the numbers 1 to 6.

        However, that’s because the long-term results for dice follow a statistically significant pattern … but climate events do not.

        The usual claim is that short-term climate events are chaotic, but the long-term climate events are not. So although we cannot predict short-term events, we can predict long term events.

        Two things argue against that. One is the Medieval Warm Period followed by the Little Ice Age followed by three centuries of warming since then … surely you’re not claiming that those were predictable?

        Even the IPCC accepts that they were not predictable, saying in the SAR:

        “…future unexpected, large and rapid climate system changes (as have occurred in the past) are, by their nature, difficult to predict. This implies that future climate changes may also involve ‘surprises’. In particular, these arise from the non-linear, chaotic nature of the climate system.”

        The other is that Mandelbrot himself, the earliest student of fractal chaotic systems, explicitly said that both weather and climate are chaotic. See here for details.

        And since they are both chaotic, the chances of predicting either one are very small. It is NOT like dice, where the long-term structure of the system is known.

        Best regards,


  9. Broadlands permalink
    January 2, 2021 1:07 pm

    A step in the right direction. Are we to believe that natural variability might be the “control knob” and not CO2 forcing?

  10. donteachin permalink
    January 2, 2021 1:49 pm

    Do these weather forecasters ever look further north than London?
    Here in East Lancashire we have had snow every day since Christmas Day with no sign of a thaw with temperatures at or below zero. At the moment it’s coming down thick and fast covering the ice already on the footpaths and side roads. The expected ‘beast from the east’ isn’t going to make much difference. Have the BBC and the Met office actually measured temperatures anywhere other than London. We’ve also had bitter cold winds since mid November.

    • donteachin permalink
      January 2, 2021 1:55 pm

      As mentioned before, only Accuweather gives the ‘actual temperatures’ for your area. More or less spot on with forecasts for my location.

      • saveenergy permalink
        January 2, 2021 2:03 pm

        I use ‘ meteoblue’ (no it’s not a toilet cleaner ) also spot on

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 3, 2021 10:18 am

      You think they will bring to peoples attention things that might suggest the great Warming Scam isn’t real?

  11. Aaron Halliwell permalink
    January 2, 2021 1:56 pm

    “the northerly feel”: there’s an accurate scientific description!

    • Harry Davidson permalink
      January 2, 2021 2:41 pm

      In Norfolk they talk of a ‘lazy wind’ – one that doesn’t bother to go round you.

      • JohnM permalink
        January 2, 2021 5:06 pm

        My old Dad called it a “sooner wind”. It would sooner go through you than found you.

        He used to ignore the BBC weather forecasts; he said the we would be having the weather in a week’s time that New York was having today.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 3, 2021 12:20 pm

      Is that weather with a flat cap and a whippet. (other Northern sterotypes are available)

  12. William Birch permalink
    January 2, 2021 2:32 pm

    Brilliant weather forecast from Met office; the short range weather forecast is “could be anything and probably will be” however the long range forecast is absolutely certain. “Mayhem and Apocalypse”.

    • dave permalink
      January 2, 2021 3:45 pm

      The UAH update, for December’s global brightness anomalies, shows that “temperature” over land has dropped sharply, following on from persistently low values of the sea surface “temperature.”

      The drop of 0.6 C in the pseudo(or proxy)-temperature over land is the 6th largest drop in the 504 months of the satellite data.

      Expect a week of trumpeting headlines from the BBC, “Unprecedented cooling! Worried experts say Ice Age now certain, unless all humans jump in the sea immediately!” Al Gore, however makes a joint announcement with Tony Blair to comfort us by pointing out that it is Scientifically Impossible for Climate Scientists to be wrong, and any suggestion to the contrary is part of the world-wide conspiracy of Anti-vaxxers.

  13. saparonia permalink
    January 2, 2021 4:17 pm

    Funny you should post this today. I was only an hour ago looking at the Sun’s coronal holes and solar wind. Posted a couple of helioviewer videos on youtube. The Solar Wind is dramatic. Amazing how the Sun is responsible for all of our weather and we never hear them talk much about it.

  14. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 2, 2021 5:08 pm

    Bookies are catching on. I doubt the whole winter will be anywhere near a record, but if it comes together there could be some records broken.

  15. Up2snuff permalink
    January 2, 2021 6:08 pm

    So according to the Met Office, warm air rises and cold air falls.

    There’s a thing.

    Who knew?

    • dave permalink
      January 4, 2021 10:32 am

      “…warm air rises…”

      Yes, as on a hot sunny mid-day over land; but the main cause of convection, world-wide, is still, actually, the addition of water vapour, from the sea, which – water vapour being ‘lighter than air’ makes large regions of the atmosphere unstable.

  16. January 2, 2021 6:44 pm

    there are other global weather factors that can impact our winter weather. This year they include a La Nina.

    And a deep solar minimum of sunspots, only just ending now (it seems).

    • dave permalink
      January 3, 2021 10:58 am

      “…deep solar minimum, only just ending…”

      If one means the low of the 11-year cycle – the change from Cycle 24 to Cycle 25 – this is correct. But if one means the longer ‘cycle of cycles,’ in which successive11-year cycles are weak, we are still in a ‘deep solar minimum.’ Granted, this whole idea is just a theory.

      Funnily enough, the part of the sun we can observe is spotless again (SILSO), and pictures in the ultra-violet from the satellite STEREO-A show no active regions rotating into view. Of course spots are only a proxy for general magnetic activity. It is the fluctuation in the latter which is assumed to actually influence the climate.

  17. January 2, 2021 9:27 pm

    Here’s a bit of context …



    • Jongo permalink
      January 3, 2021 2:57 am

      That’s not a web URL, That looks more like a link on your computer (Apple) to your own hard drive.

  18. January 2, 2021 9:29 pm

    Hmm … looks like you’ll have to copy and paste the URL for that image … let me try again:


    • January 2, 2021 9:39 pm

      Still does not seem to work, Willis!

      • January 2, 2021 9:51 pm

        Thanks, Paul. Grrr … to the mods, is there any way to add an image to a post, either by link or inline?


    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 2, 2021 10:12 pm

      The image has to be hosted somewhere visible to the internet. So this

      which you posted at WUWT, and is now hosted at an https:// address can be linked here. But the blog comment software doesn’t include the ability to manufacture a linkable file.

      • January 3, 2021 7:16 pm

        Thanks, amigo. Actually that’s a new graph which will be the subject of an upcoming post at WUWT. At that point it can be copied or linked to.

        Best regards,


  19. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 3, 2021 10:09 am

    So basically natural variation absolutely dominates our weather. Mild winters are due to the absence of the phenomenon that cause cold winters, not a bit more CO2.

    Once again the Met Office debunks its own Alarmism without noticing.

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