Yeah, yeah, I know. Long-range weather forecasting is hard. I get it. Even figuring out what the weather’s going to do tomorrow is an inexact science, and so predicting trends months into the future is nigh-on impossible. Some people will say “why bother, then?” but we all know that people crave to know how their summer is going to turn out. This year, Brits—like in a number of recent years—were mostly told to brace for a 1976-style heatwave. Instead, we’ve ended up with one of the most cool, grey, drab and damp summers I can remember. So here’s my tip to all British long-range weather forecasters next year:


It really is that simple. Don’t bother spending many weeks fine-tuning your algorithms and massaging data. Just lie. And as we’re British, you really need to be pessimistic, because while Brits love a good moan, they’re secretly happier when bad things turn out good. For example, the following would be the wrong path for you to take:

  • Prediction: heatwave and lots of “cor, what a scorcher!” headlines. Reality: like this summer.

What happened there is you told people the UK will get a summer and the reality is it didn’t get one. Net result: the bad summer is all your fault, weather forecaster. You somehow jinxed it with your scientific powers. Much better to take this route:

  • Prediction: mediocre summer, with a lot of cloud and rain, with temperatures at or slightly below average.

Now, if the weather follows the pattern from the past few years, this will be accurate, and you’ll be hailed as some kind of weather genius, despite not having done any actual work. Yay you. If, by some small miracle, the UK actually gets a summer and people end up lobster red and baking in an utterly ungainly manner, in only the way Brits can, well, who cares? Things were better than you predicted, so no-one’s going to blame you. They’ll be too busy slapping aloe vera on their sunburn.

If you need to get more detailed, feel free to copy and paste the following to your research papers and websites. I’m sure it’s at least 50 per cent accurate, despite me typing it up while distractedly playing Strategery on my iPad.

Totally accurate long-range UK weather forecast for 2012

  • January: Look, it’s winter, so it’s going to be cold. It’ll probably also snow a bit, causing the UK to grind to a standstill in shock and surprise, despite being a country in the north of Europe, where it tends to snow. There will, however, be sunny periods, most notably near to sunset, blinding drivers countrywide who thought “well, it’s January, so I won’t need any sunglasses in the car today”.
  • February: See January.
  • March: Winter’s done, so summer will do a quick sneak attack to see how well-prepared Brits are for heat. Within 24 hours, the weather will, at some random point, go from “brr, it’s a bit nippy” to “OMG HOTTER THAN THE MED!” Most people will turn off their heating, whereupon the sneak attack will withdraw. Most weather forecasters will now also predict a 1976-style heatwave summer, but you know better than that, don’t you?
  • April: A mixture of coolish showers and quite nice sunny days. Since Easter holidays are at the start of April, predict with 99 per cent confidence that the nicer weather will start immediately after the kids return to school.
  • May: Grey.
  • June: Summer will try to get started rather like someone attempting to fire up an old, battered motorbike. You’ll think it’s going to fire, and it almost will. But then it will sadly die. By the end of the month, it will be slightly cooler and wetter than everyone would hope for, with clouds lurking menacingly.
  • July: Because of the ‘jet stream’ and ‘high pressure in the wrong place’ and ‘low solar maximums’ and ‘sky genies’, the Atlantic will throw all its awful weather the UK’s way like a stroppy child flinging snot at a wall. There will be a glimmer of sunny weather the day before the kids break up from school, after which the weather will attempt to drown the entire British population by raining as much as possible.
  • August: Cool, grey and rainy, bar in the evenings when it’ll annoyingly get quite nice and sunny right before sunset.
  • September: People will want an ‘Indian summer’; they’ll get the end of a ‘British summer’. In other words, see August, but a bit cooler.
  • October through December: As autumn turns to winter, it’ll get colder. Now and again, the sun will arrive for a quick look, which will make the nights very cold indeed. In December, it will snow. A lot. Dear Royal Mail: please make note of this last point, rather than acting all surprised that it snows in December and that people tend to send a lot of mail in December.

Totally accurate long-range UK weather forecast for 2013

  • See “Totally accurate long-range UK weather forecast for 2012”.