Met Office did not see the storm of 21st October 2014 coming

Posted: October 21, 2014 by tchannon in Forecasting, weather

I’ve started collecting a few of the Met Office published weather forecasts in addition to the weather station data, building an archive.

The UK Met Office are masters of obfuscation, vague language, handwaving yet for all the money poured in over the years their forecasting prowess is notorious. What follows is backed up by more details left for another time.

We have just had a minor blow in London, enough to cancel flights at the premier UK airport, brought down trees, at least one death. The BBC are going on about it as is the Guardian.

[update: Met Office hourly data for the 21st is now in and plotted PDF here (1.4MB) –Tim]

Note for comprehension, 16 to 30 days means that is how far ahead it is from the publication date.


Met Office 16 to 30 day forecast

UK Outlook for Thursday 9 Oct 2014 to Thursday 23 Oct 2014:

  • The broadly northwest-southeast split in the weather conditions is showing signs of persisting through mid-October.
  • This pattern would leave southern, central and eastern parts tending to see the best of the weather with conditions often fine and dry.
  • Occasional bouts of rain should still be expected, and mist and fog patches may be a problem during morning rush hours.
  • Under the fine weather it should still feel pleasant with temperatures a little above average for the time of year.
  • Further northwest, conditions are likely to be more unsettled with more frequent outbreaks of rain, these perhaps accompanied by strong winds.
  • Temperatures here should be closer to average or perhaps even just below at times.


Met Office 6 to 15 day forecast

UK Outlook for Saturday 11 Oct 2014 to Monday 20 Oct 2014:

  • An unsettled start with scattered showers continuing to affect many areas, locally heavy and thundery at times.
  • However there is also a risk of a more organised band of heavy rain moving north across England during Saturday.
  • Winds will remain light to moderate, but blustery near the heavier showers.
  • These showers are then expected to gradually ease into next week, although further rain, heavy at times, and strong winds could then spread in from the west at times.
  • However drier and brighter conditions are likely to develop across southern parts by the end of the forecast period with increasingly settled and often sunny conditions developing.
  • Temperatures will mostly be near the October average at first, but above average at times, especially later in the period in the south.

UK Outlook for Sunday 12 Oct 2014 to Tuesday 21 Oct 2014:

  • The unsettled theme to the weather continues with outbreaks of rain or heavy, thundery showers at times, although there will be some drier and brighter interludes too.
  • Showers are likely to be most frequent in western and northern coastal districts, and may be more scattered elsewhere.
  • Winds are expected to be light to moderate at first however it will probably turn windier by the middle to end of next week with a risk of gales for many.
  • Drier and brighter conditions are possible across southern and eastern parts by the end of the forecast period with a greater chance of settled and sunnier conditions.
  • Temperatures will mostly be near the October average at first, but will rise above average from the middle of next week, especially the southeast.

More recent forecasts

Concentrating on the South East, London area. See them start to realise what is coming. Meantime I could see the remains of an Atlantic hurricane was forecast by the American to pass over the UK today… forecast a week or so ago. The track was marked.

Forecast for London & Southeast England day3to5, from 2014-10-19 16hrs (Sun) to 2014-10-21 16hrs (Tue)

Outlook for Sunday to Tuesday:
  • Sunday, Monday, early sharp showers then sunny spells, isolated showers and still quite warm despite the breeze.
  • Tuesday, a wet, windy start then sunshine and blustery showers but feeling colder.


Forecast for London & Southeast England day3to5, from 2014-10-20 16hrs (Mon) to 2014-10-22 16hrs (Wed)

Outlook for Monday to Wednesday:
  • Dry and breezy on Monday but then becoming windy with some heavy rain overnight.
  • Very windy on Tuesday, easing a little on Wednesday, with further rain or showers at times.



Forecast for London & Southeast England day1to2, from 2014-10-20 16hrs (Mon) to 2014-10-21 16hrs (Tue)

  • Wet and windy tonight.
  • Feeling much colder tomorrow.
This Evening and Tonight:
  • Dry and largely clear at first, before windy conditions with cloud and outbreaks of locally heavy rain spread east across the area after midnight.
  • Localised gales developing, especially along the south coast.
  • Minimum Temperature 10C.
  • Cloud and rain clearing away southeastwards.
  • Much colder, still very windy conditions following along with sunny spells and a few blustery showers.
  • Maximum Temperature 14C.


Data supplied by Met Office via Datapoint under OGL licence.
Reference and area map.

I have all the regional forecasts, a deluge of information. If you want more ask. The top item is the oldest I have, just starting to yield up.


I’m not sure whether I can achieve much by looking at forecasts even though I have some the actual weather data. The problem is too large and complex.

More site specific forecast are published but these are computer generated, not very good. GCM work some of the time out to a week or so but this is not reliable.

I think a takehome is the forecasting is not very good nor in my opinion will this change in my lifetime. What we need is a dose of sanity, acceptance of reality because only then can sensible progress be made and trust built.

Post by Tim

  1. Curious George says:

    That explains the tragedy on Annapurna Circuit.

  2. tchannon says:

    Update, the Met Office hourly station data for the 21st is in and plotted, link added to post.

    Heathrow couldn’t handle far short of a gale if gusting to 40 mph? East/west runways, wind from west. A crosswind would be a different matter.

    The most exposed south coast stations did register a gale at times. Portland, Solent, St Catherine’s Point.

  3. Richard111 says:

    BBC radio at 7 o’clock this morning excitedly announced that the wind turbines generated more electricity yesterday than a nuclear generating plant.

    Well, whoop-de-doo! We’ll have electricity every time the tail end of a hurricane passes the UK.

  4. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on the WeatherAction News Blog and commented:
    The warning for the London area only came into force at 0947.

  5. Joe Public says:

    Perhaps the MO wastes too much time and resources pontificating (wrongly) about climate, when it should be concentrating just on weather.

  6. tallbloke says:

    The MET-O is hedging its betts.

    Before we get a BBQ summer, watch out for a book burning winter

  7. oldbrew says:

    ‘Well, whoop-de-doo! We’ll have electricity every time the tail end of a hurricane passes the UK.’

    Unless the power lines get hit by falling trees 😉

  8. Kon Dealer says:

    They obviously need a lot more Government (our!!) money to update their computers so they can improve their forecasts.

  9. tallbloke says:

    SST anomaly animation.

    Cold winter coming.

  10. tchannon says:

    Wouldn’t Bett on much Rog. 🙂

  11. wayne says:

    That new Unisys chart with the dancing scale is so difficult to read. Is that cold water gathering in the noth Atlantic?

    Just guessing that magenta-red inside blue is colder. Orange-red inside yellow is warmer. That how you read it TB?

  12. oldbrew says:

    If you save the chart as a ‘gif’ you can play it back with a pause button e.g. using QuickTime.

  13. tchannon says:

    Obfuscating what is wrong. I am one of the individuals reporting after Michele pointed it out.
    There is no misinterpreting by me, it is plain wrong. Look at the range limits, ocean temperature does not do -15C nor range -15C to +20C from mean.

    Unisys SST Anomaly Maps

    Posted on 2014/10/22 at 3:28 PM UTC

    Unisys Weather has been receiving reports of incorrect maps of the daily SST contours. The data used to make the maps are the official NOAA RTG-SST and anomaly grids, being pulled directly from the NOAA NWSTG.

    We have found an issue with the color scale of the mapping, and this has caused some users to misinterpret the maps. The color scale being used by WXP is wrapping, causing the same color to appear at very low and very high ends of the color table. The color table is also stretched beyond the actual values in the SST anomaly plot. We are working to correct the color table and color bar issue.

    A comparison of the Unisys generated map with the NOAA RTG-SST anomaly maps indicate the contours are in line with NOAA’s maps.

  14. […] collaborazione con il blog inglese Tallbloke’s abbia deciso di inviare alcune mail ad Unisys weather, in riferimento alla discordanza rilevata fra […]