MeteoGroup successfully predicted extreme European cold 6 weeks in advance

Early warnings helped customers in various sectors prepare for the cold

It’s the end of February 2018, and it’s cold in Western Europe. Very cold. In fact, it’s much colder than usual. And our customers knew in advance.

As the cold impacts huge parts of our economy, the earlier you know that it’s coming, the better you can prepare. This saves money, helps to secure operations, increases safety and enables better planning and smoother operations across all sectors. From Energy and Telecom, through Water Utilities, Automotive, Retail, Shipping, Transport and Public Authorities, all sectors benefit from a reliable early warning system.

‘MeteoGroup provides highly accurate and continuously updated weather analysis and solutions, giving customers all over the world access to the forecasts and weather data they need to support their operations’, says Matt Dobson, Senior Energy Meteorologist at MeteoGroup. ‘Providing expert long-term forecasting for up to six months, our World Climate Service gives customers all the data and tools necessary to develop mid- to long-term plans. Created in partnership with US-based Prescient Weather Ltd., this comprehensive tool combines multi-model input with vast meteorological and climatological expertise.’

‘The first time we picked up on the coming cold was in the beginning of January’

Matt Dobson, Senior Energy Meteorologist at MeteoGroup: ‘Our team of experienced meteorologists produced a brilliant set of detailed February forecasts, already back in early January, that helped steer our views in the face of conflicting model guidance.’

The following timeline shows how this evolved:

Early Jan: First signs for a ‘blocked pattern’ (high pressure around northern Europe and therefore cold threat) developing at some stage in February, following analysis of historical analogues by our energy meteorologists.

Mid Jan: Interesting activity in the Madden-Julian Oscillation, an area of enhanced heavy shower/thunderstorm activity that migrates around the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Increasing strength in the pattern and subsequent evolution was identified as having potential weather impacts for Europe in February via a process known as a ‘teleconnection’.

This was issued 18th Jan to our UK Seasonal Forecast Customers. We issued a similar line in our European Seasonal forecast issued on same day, as a risk to be mindful of.

"We are also keeping a close eye on Sub-Seasonal duration forecast drivers (that act on a weekly to monthly timescale) which could result in some further volatile weather changes over the UK through late winter and early Spring. A weakening Stratospheric Polar Vortex and also tropical rainfall anomalies in the eastern Pacific by mid-February could threaten a cold spell over the UK 2nd half of February to 1st half of March."

Late Jan: The first signals were picked up by our meteorologists for weather models hinting at a breakdown in the Stratospheric Polar Vortex (high altitude circulation of winds) around mid-February. Potentially emanating via a Sudden Stratospheric Warming, our temperature projections for the 3-4 week ahead period across Europe identified a cold threat.

Early Feb: With multiple forecast guidance signals now aligning, our forecast was issued with higher confidence for the latter stage of February to see the potential for a more prominent cold spell. The Forecast below was issued on Tuesday February 6th.

‘Of course it’s always a matter of probability. Interpretation and expertise are important elements in the final assessment and prediction’, Matt Dobson continues. ‘We have had frequent discussions with our customers about this, especially with the commodity traders and Energy customers, and felt like we were sounding like a broken record at times. Even as recently as a week ago, the market had lost confidence in the cold outbreak based on medium-range model volatility, but we advised customers to stick with our outlook, and are happy to see that they did.’

Catalyst Commodities
Paul Monk, Director at Catalyst Commodities is one of those customers: “We forecast energy demand across Europe and are the market leaders in price forecasting for the UK. It is extremely important for us to know in advance when specific weather conditions occur. We have been a MeteoGroup Customer for four years now, and I’m happy to say that the quality of their long term predictions is really good. Already in January their reports alerted us to the extreme cold that was heading our way for the end of February and the beginning of March. This enabled us to highlight the risk of extreme cold to membership well ahead of the cold conditions being accepted by the whole market."

Want to know more about long term forecasts and our World Climate Service?

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