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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Cold winter due, says forecaster
Metcheck says more frequent snowfalls could occur this winter.
Metcheck says more frequent snowfalls could occur this winter.
Prepare for one of the coldest winters on record, forecasters who predicted this summer's rain have advised - but the Met Office is not so sure.

Metcheck.com predicts regular cold snaps until Christmas and prolonged bleak spells in January.

The firm correctly forecast the deluges that hit Britain in the summer.

But the long view is not shared by all. The Met Office, which issues a 4-week forecast, said it is "very difficult" to forecast so far in advance.

Metcheck.com senior forecaster Andrew Bond said: "From what we are predicting, Britain could see its coldest winter of the century so far.

"It is time to ditch the wellies for woollies. This winter will be a lot more cold and less wet than previous winters.

"The cold snap next week is nature giving us a taste of what is to come in the next few months."

The winter to come will undoubtedly have cold periods but saying exactly when...we believe is still not possible beyond five to 10 days
Met Office spokesman

He added: "We are confident that we will see a higher than average frequency of northerly weather types, bringing not just colder weather but a more frequent snowfall than we have experienced in recent years."

He predicted bitterly cold winds in the south and snowfall in the north and said there would then be a very cold spell between 22-27 November.

But the Met Office told BBC News Online the overall comments had "merely described an average winter".

A spokesman added: "The winter to come will undoubtedly have cold periods and some snow, but saying exactly when these will affect certain parts of the country we believe is still not possible beyond five to 10 days."

Beyond that, "the chaotic nature of the atmosphere" meant forecasts became less accurate and forecasting several months ahead was still extremely difficult.

"Met Office forecasts and the science that we use are open to scrutiny and subject to peer review, we prefer to stand by the verification of all of our forecasts not just look at one in isolation," he said.

The spokesman added there was a likelihood of frosts next week, but nothing out of the ordinary for mid-October.

Professional forecasters use complex numerical weather forecast models to build up a picture of the likelihood of different weather types affecting the UK.

White christmas bets

Amateur forecasters use more down to earth techniques, such as Bill Foggitt in North Yorkshire who monitored insect activity, where frogs spawned in his pond, when swallows departed south and the behaviour of his cat.

Old wives' tales include: if it thunders in February, it will frost in April; ice in November to bear a duck, the rest of the winter'll be slush and muck; and fog in January makes a wet spring.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes said it had cut the odds on a white Christmas from 8/1 to 6/1.

"There is a series of cold snaps ahead and we have seen a flurry of bets since a senior forecaster said he believed a white Christmas was almost a certainty," said spokesman Warren Lush.

"Punters are betting like it's December, not October."

Bookmakers have had to pay out four times in eight years on Christmas snow in locations around the UK.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How can forecasters say a big freeze is on the way?



SEE ALSO:
Foggitt the weather watcher dies
14 Sep 04  |  North Yorkshire


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