How cold is May really?

posted in: weather | 15

In the middle of April 2012, Piers Corbyn of Weather Action made this dramatic forecast for England’s weather:

The coldest or near coldest May for 100 years in Central and East parts with a record run of bitter Northerly winds.

*Confidence of E / SE England mean temps: Coldest in 100yrs 80%

The early part of May seemed to bear him out. It was cold, with frequent frosts. By the middle of the month, Metro was saying.

Central England temperatures so far this month average 8.6C, 1.6C below normal. The last time May was colder was in 1698, at 8.5C over the whole month.

Leaving aside the underhand trick of comparing the first two weeks of May 2012 with the whole month of May in other years, this does indicate that May so far has been unusually cold. But how cold does it have to be to reach Piers’s forecast of the coldest in 100 years, of which he was 80% confident in the middle of April?

The Met Office publishes Central England monthly temperatures going back 300 years, and this shows the coldest May in the last 100 years was May 1996 with a mean temperature of 9.1C (there are 14 colder Mays in the record, but they were all before 1912).

So if the first two weeks this year have averaged 8.6C, and if this is 0.7C colder than for the whole month, which is about the normal difference, the mean temperature for May 2012 will be about 9.3C, which would not quite be the coldest in 100 years; it would be warmer than 1996 and 1923.

I sent a message to Piers on Twitter on 16 May, asking:

Have you revised your 80% chance that May in S/SE England will be coldest in 100 years?

I haven’t heard back from him yet, but I will post again if I do, and also to track how the rest of May turns out.

Update added 1 June 2012

You may be wondering how this all turned out. I never did hear back from Piers. The weather turned much warmer in the second half of May. As of today, the Met Office has only released a provisional result up to 30 May, but this shows a mean temperature in Central England for May 2012 of 12.0C, which is not only not the coldest for 100 years, but is 0.8C above the average for the 1961-1990 period.

15 Responses

  1. Demokratinifara

    Did you send any e-.mail to Met office concerning the “barbecue summer” as well?

    • cwhope

      As I’ve only had this blog for a couple of weeks, no. But I’m interested in any forecasts, particularly if they have probabilities attached. I like to see how well calibrated people are.

      • Gertrude

        Evil is falling down like a pack of cards, Tunisia, Egypt, inmnmeitly Libya, Algeria, Morocco, maybe Iran and this morning it was on thenews even North Korea ahs seen some protests.Climate Change politics is in an analogous situation. It may take a bit more than a while, bit it will fall.The Met office asking for more money to increase its computer power is analogous to Geddafi asking for more money to buy more bullet power. But like Geddafi, AGW will fall, crash, soon.

    • Karla

      All of the forecasts that I have made for the past three years are still vialebwe on my web site, as well as the next three years of daily forecast for the contiguous USA. I receive no monies from my efforts, and I personally fork over the money for all operating costs of my forecast endeavors. I am now close to the end of the Beta stage of development of my ideas, and will be further extending the processes I use in the next year to develop an even better product, with international coverage outside the USA. Got an email from Eric Floehr from Forecast watch asking for the raw data to process to evaluate my over all forecast accuracy. I would love to get Aerology forecasts into ForecastWatch and learn more about your process. “Sent him the data on a flash drive, he will let me know when he has the past 6 months processed, and I will post the news of it here post haste.Pattern recognition is the skill that gets the job done! Ike had an independent forecaster producing the D day forecast, Irving Krick who like Piers based his forecasts on repeating patterns in the weather due to Lunar and solar magnetic strength impulses. The process I use is based on a repeating pattern of Lunar and solar magnetic interactions with the orbital periods of the inner planets to generate an analog set of three cycles like this one to combine to get the map results. Piers uses several other cycles with a look back time of about 132 years, I suspect 130.2, 132, and 133 years to get the past patterns of solar activity in relation to past weather data then extrapolates the differences from then to now to get the finished product.Like Irving Krick’s work, the technique takes skill and a natural talent for pattern recognition. Along with a greater detailed understanding on how the interaction between the solar wind and the orbital periods of the solar system are inter related, further study into these relationships is where the answers will be coming from.Richard Holle

  2. BobM

    Whatever the outcome, Corbyn will claim he was right. His supporters willingly overlook his failures. In this video ( at around 9’45” he says that the drought will continue into April with a continuing shortage of rain. That worked out well, didn’t it?

    • fatihah

      The fixation on camlite change has relegated the research of the impact of solar, lunar and celestial forces on the earth to obscurity but the recent disasters have brought them back into focus thankfully. The cycles of planets, sunspots, cosmic rays, magnetism etc play a far greater part in our environment than has been given due. Interesting too, the biblical prophesies of earthquakes in divers places .I’ve compiled a linked list of papers and articles documenting alternative camlite driver hypotheses (except AGW) that overlap with seismic effects due to the same natural origins that can be accessed here:-There’s a stack of reading but at least there’s documented falsifiable hypotheses unlike AGW. The last paper on the list has been used to make successful predictions (inverted SOI leading temperature by 7 months) despite the efforts of AGW to proponents to suppress and vilify it. Landscheidt made similar successful predictions years ago from further out but you wont hear about that in the MSM.

  3. Hengist

    Don’t wait up for a response from Piers. I’ve asked him to clarify his credentials/qualifications and he’s never got back to me. Characteristic of climate deniers – only engaging in correspondence positive to their cause.

  4. Sou

    Good on you for following this up. I saw Corbyn’s original forecast for this May and thought it was very bold. Figured it would end up being hugely off base. (A bit like Australia’s John McLean who predicted that the average global surface temp for 2011 would be at least as low as 1956 – even last September he was saying (hopefully) ‘the year isn’t over yet’.)

    What is it with those who don’t accept climate science? Do they really and truly think there will be an ice age in the next two decades?

  5. ab

    Corbyn has tried to cover up one of his latest forecasts

    This was published on on the 16th (predicting worse extreme flooding than earlier in the week), but promptly removed when obviously corbyn realised he was going to be completely wrong.. exactly the sort of cover up he claims to be so against..

    • Byron

      Robert EllisonThe various oiltclaisons, the La Nina and El Nino and so forth are likely to be only secondary reactions.Stephen Strum has demonstrated that global temperature follows the length of the sunspot cycle with, (Ithink) a 13 month lag.There is a theory, as yet unproven, that the fluctiating magnetic force between sun and earth control the incidence of cosmic rays reaching the lower atmosphere and through that clouds and temperature.There is an experiment going on at CERN which may go some way to proving hard evidence.There is growing evidence that the incidence of UHI is alone sufficient to explain most or all of the observed temperature increase since recorded global temperature began.There is some evidence that feedbacks are negative rather than positive, throwing some doubt on the CO2 theory.There is a gaping gap in the that theory anyway, from the point when heat is absorbed and readmitted within the CO2 molecule , to the big wide world of the atmosphere.If you would like to debate why increasing amounts of CO2 emissions are not related to the periodic floods and droughts in Australia, I will oblige. However, it may well be more productive to just sit back and observe for the next decade or so.Mother nature is in the process of giving us a demonstration of which theory is right and which is wrong.I am old but can go a few steps down that road with you, if you so choose.Then you must preoceed further, alone I fear.And being alone in the dark is quite worrysome I hear.

    • Anke

      something along the lines of I think it is going to be a rather cihlly winter that would not have been very impressive (even though it would have been more accurate than the Met Office’s barbecue summer forecast of a couple of years ago) but what he wrote was:Winter Dec to Feb inclusive in Britain and Europe will be exceptionally cold and snowy – like hell frozen over at times with much of England, Germany, Benelux and N France suffering one of the coldest winters for over 100 years.Weather forecasting is not an exact science yet and it is possible that the rest of the winter might turn out very mild. However Corbyn was certainly right about December which was the coldest in Britain for a century.What are the chances of getting that right by chance?

    • Princesitas

      Well, Piers is way wrong with his Jan forecast for the UK (so far). He prdteceid (with the usual hyperbole) bitter cold and in fact it’s very mild and looks like it will continue that way for some time.I can’t my head round his method (something to do with the moon?), but whatever it is, it ain’t working this month.IIRC Piers said that it would be very cold at the end of the month, and that’s more than 2 weeks away from now. And it may have been mild where you are, but where I am in Scotland we still have snow from November (which has been covered by numerous December and January falls). January has not been so cold as December (when the average anomaly was -6C) but it has still been below average.

      • cwhope

        This comment, and several of the other comments uploaded on the same day, appear to refer to a different discussion of a different period, and have probably been transferred wholesale from another blog. However, I have decided to let them stand in case they are of some use to readers of this blog.

  6. Manoj

    First Piers Corbyn, now Bryan Leyland from the antipodes, and isn’t there Richard Holle in the States too? How long bferoe WUWT has its own Global Longterm Weather Forecasts page? (modifications being allowed up to a week BEFORE but not later than that)Well, I realize that Piers has to make a living and the Met Office are not offering him a job although as we all know they should. Yet OTOH the science behind his work needs to become public, just as we ask of CRU. Moreover, by steady trickle that is surely going to happen anyway.Could someone here develop a business plan that could enable Piers to be justly compensated while enabling a transition of the astrophysics-linked forecasting science into the public realm at least into WUWT? I put science into inverted commas because we don’t understand the mechanisms. But I am confident that if the method works, the understanding will follow.

  7. Eraldo

    here and elsewhere many times befroe, a prediction that cannot be recognized as prediction until after the fact is no predition at all. It really doesn’t matter that Piers Corbyn or Bryan Leyland once made a claim about the future and it later happened that way. What would matter is if they do it repeatedly and much more often than chance. I’m not seeing any evidence presented here that they do (though that evidence may exist—in which case let’s see it). We don’t (and shouldn’t) let climate alarmists retrospectively claim after the fact that one of their multiple widely differing predictions was correct. The same goes for everyone else. You have to be right time and again befroe you can say you are predicting.

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