Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 12:48 UK

Milder and drier winter predicted

Snowman survives the mild weather
When snow has fallen in recent years, it has often disappeared quickly

This winter will be milder than average and drier than last year in the UK, Met Office forecasters have predicted.

After a summer that saw high rainfall and the dullest August on record in terms of sunshine, the winter months will see relatively high temperatures.

That follows the trend of recent years, the Met Office said. Last winter saw an average temperature of 4.86C, compared to a long-term average of 3.7C.

In April, the Met Office predicted a "typical" wet and warm British summer.

Met Office spokesman Barry Gromett said, according to the predictions, 2008/9 would be the eighth year in a row that Britain has had a mild winter - defined as having an average temperature higher than the average recorded for the winters between 1971 and 2000.

He said: "We are unable to predict specific patterns three months in advance but this forecast is helpful because it confirms what people have come to expect as the norm.

"That's not to say that we won't get annual variability in the future. A colder winter will be even more noteworthy and we will aim to warn people in advance."

He said the Met Office was satisfied it had got its initial long-range "wet and warm" forecast for summer 2008 correct.

Mr Gromett said: "The temperature worked out as just above average while the rainfall was one-and-a-half times the average, even more than we expected."

Breathing problems

The forecast of another mild winter has been welcomed by Help the Aged.

Dr James Goodwin, the charity's head of research, said: "The onset of winter causes significant anxiety among many older people.

"This forecast will assist policy makers to adapt their strategies to ensure that the negative effects of winter weather are reduced as far as possible."

But he warned older people should still guard against sudden cold snaps this winter.

Last year, the Met Office worked with health experts to launch a personal weather warning system for people with the lung condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

People with COPD have more breathing problems during sudden drops in temperature.

More than 8,000 patients in 189 GP practices have signed up to use the Met Office's "Healthy Outlook COPD Forecast Alert".

What is a typical British summer?
15 Aug 08 |  Magazine
World heading towards cooler 2008
21 Aug 08 |  Science & Environment


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