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Saturday 17 December 2011

Express White Christmas – Not

[Update at end of post]

Most Express front pages fall into one of four cheap-to-produce categories: three of these are “Miracle Cure That Isn’t Really”, “House Prices, Pensions and Other Money Scares”, and “EU Shock Horror That Isn’t”. The fourth, on display once again today, is “Weather Shock (and disproves Climate Change)”, with the assertion “It’s A White Christmas. That’s one heck of a crystal ball.

Under the by-line of Sarah Westcott, the headline is immediately watered down to “Britain looks set for a White Christmas”, but then come really frightening temperatures: “plunging as low as -10C (14F)”. Oh really? No, not really: “a wind chill factor in Scotland and Northern Ireland could lead to temperatures feeling like -10C or -11C (14F to 12F) overnight on Saturday and Sunday”.

Now I hate to rain on the Express parade, but the “White Christmas” story does not stand any serious analysis. Let’s look at the Met Office synoptic charts for the next few days, and the reason will become clear. This is the scene for noon today, with a clear northerly component to the wind. But keep an eye on that Low pressure area to the SW of Greenland.

Now here’s the forecast for noon tomorrow. This shows winds easing and pressure building – although there is still a northerly or north-westerly component – and that Low is moving slowly east.

Moving on to Monday’s noon forecast, the wind direction has moved round to the west, although there is a potential move back to north-westerlies behind that weather front. Look to the lower left of the chart: there is another Low pressure area coming out from the eastern seaboard of the USA.

And here is Tuesday’s noon forecast, with the Low pressure system moving north east. It will probably arrive over the UK on Wednesday. Look at the wind direction to the south east of the centre of that system: those are mild south-westerlies. The Beeb forecast for Crewe (CW2) on Wednesday next has rain, but a daytime high of 12C, which is very good for this time of year.

Just to confirm all of the above, a look at the Met Office site and its forecast for the last ten days of the year reveals this snippet: “Temperatures will be mostly around average for the close of the year”. That means little chance of shock horror weather events and little chance of a White Christmas.

What you will not see in the Daily Express, because telling readers the facts would sell less papers, thus not reaching another Benchmark Of Excellence.

[UPDATE 18 December 1640 hours: even the Mail has now figured out that the "White Christmas" idea is baloney: under the headline telling "Chances of White Christmas recede as milder weather moves in", a temperature comparison is given showing rising values, and the piece even includes a quote from a Met Office forecaster. Maybe Positive Weather Solutions is falling out of fashion]

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