Today, the Mail on Sunday has run a front-page story saying that government insiders have ‘accused the Met Office of failing to predict the severity of our latest big freeze’.
Simply, this is just not true – the potential for cold weather in December was signalled as early as September and included in briefings to stakeholders across government and industry, helping them to prepare robust contingency plans to minimise any potential impact from cold weather.
In fact, our winter outlook issued in October highlighted the most likely scenario for December was for high pressure near the UK allowing for a northerly air flow, leading to cold snaps with the threat of snow and ice. Exactly the weather we have seen through the last few weeks.
The Mail on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily Mail, reported on our winter outlook back at the very beginning of November, using the headline ‘Britain braces for blackouts as Met Office warns of much colder winter’. The Daily Mail reported at the time that the Met Office outlook suggested that the UK’s winter had a greater chance than normal of being colder than average.
The Met Office continues to work hand in hand with government and industry, keeping them up to date on the latest forecasts and outlooks. While the colder weather we have seen in recent weeks, is now giving way to milder conditions, some colder spells are still possible through the rest of December and into January. Milder conditions are signalled from late January, with an increased chance of strong winds and heavy rain. This remains in the current long-term outlook for the winter period.”
Suggestions that a failure by the Met Office to warn of the current cold snap leading to blackouts is just not true, and any suggestion otherwise is alarmist and scaremongering.