A year without a summer?

According to Météo France, 2013 could be one of the coldest and wettest summers for some time.

After a long, cold winter, France is experiencing its coolest spring for 20 years. There was sleet at low level in Southern Belgium last week, and the seasonal forecast for summer provides little optimism.

Meteo1Apparently the main numerical models suggests a likely (70%) scenario of the persistence of a cold anomaly during the 3 months of summer (June, July, August) combined with normal rainfall. This does not preclude short warm spells but overall the pattern that emerges is that of a “rotten summer” in Western Europe. According to the forecast there is just a 1.5% risk of a summer heatwave.

Statistics from summers past
During years when the spring in France was cool, there was an 80% likelihood of it being followed by a cool and wet summer.

In the 1960s and again in the 2000s, no “rotten” spring was followed by a real good summer. In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, there are three notable exceptions: in 1975, 1983 and 1995, where the summers were very hot but also stormy. Only the year 1983 is the exception, a month comparable to the one we’ve just experienced, followed by a July heat wave.”

Cold Seas

Current ocean temperatures – the Atlantic, the English Channel, the North Sea and the Mediterranean – are much colder than normal. Given the size of the deficit (close to -5 ° to the English Channel and the North Sea), it is unlikely that the delay in warming will catch up in the coming weeks, which postpones any building heat. This is why the western side of the continent, including the Iberian Peninsula, seems worse off.

Meteo2A year without a summer?

Compared to those balmy summers of recent years it will feel cool (if the forecast bears out), but how would it compare with the infamous “Year Without a Summer” – 1816?

Meteo3The more extreme iterations of the models suggest comparable anomalies…

“The combination of a long and late winter which resulted in a cooling of the waters in the seas and solar activity become very weak for several months may have a direct effect on the weather of our summer: some calculations considering an anomaly -2 ° to – 3 in France with rainfall totals twice higher than normal. This scenario, however, seems rather extreme, so we opt for a remaining gloomy summer, punctuated by a heatwave of short duration followed by violent thunderstorms. One could nevertheless see some overall improvement with a return to normal late in the season (late August and September), with a gradual blurring of the cold anomaly.

September and October could therefore be the most settled and warmest months…

Ever get that feeling of deja vu?

InstallingIrishSummerSo will the Met Office be predicting a BBQ summer again then? Maybe they’ll forecast rain and we can rejoice if they are wrong again.

That reminds me of an anecdote of my father’s.  One of his work colleagues always seemed to suffer poor holiday weather (this was before jetting off to Europe was the norm).  One year they got a postcard from Oban that said:

“Weather wonderful.  Michael Fish thinks I’m in the Isle of Wight”

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11 Responses to A year without a summer?

  1. Bloke down the pub says:

    Don’t worry, I’m going down to Devon for the weekend so I’ve arranged for warm sunny weather. Should stay settled for a while after that as well. If anyone else would like some sunshine just let me know and I’ll see what I can do. This offer does not apply North of the border as I’m only talking miracles, not the impossible.

  2. Pingback: These items caught my eye – 28 May 2013 | grumpydenier

  3. goldminor says:

    The “three notable years that you point to all occurred in the year/s before the solar minimum. !975 and 1995 are a year prior, 1983 is 3 years prior. I wonder if this could indicate the position of the next solar minimum? The winter of 1983/84 is also the first flood year to break the repeating 9 year flood cycle of the Pacific Northwest. There have now been three 12 year approx, flood years in a row. I believe that this cycle is about to switch back to it’s 9 year flood pattern, which is a big assumption on my part. If it does, then the next solar minimum will be in 2016/17 or 2017/18. A heatwave in July would be interesting.

  4. This shows why we should stop trying to mess with the thermostat. If by some fluke we succeed in dropping the temperature the French won’t like it.

  5. ArndB says:

    The role of the North Atlantic and North Sea in Europe during May 2013 is evident, see
    __North Atlantic SST-anomaly-map 29/May13: http://climate-ocean.com/2013/b/8_4_52.jpg
    More material about “Cold spring 2013 in NW-Europe will last through May”, here: http://climate-ocean.com/2013/8_4.html
    __see also: Global SST in May 2012, here

    While the negative anomalies in the NS will not last very much longer; see the extreme difference to the Baltic which only started around 5th of May
    ___ http://climate-ocean.com/2013/b/8_4_30.jpg, and per 28.May
    ___ http://climate-ocean.com/2013/b/8_4_49.jpg
    the North Atlantic remains the big unknown for some time, but may offer a strong demonstration of its big role in climatic matters.

  6. PeterMG says:

    1983 was the year I got married. That spring in London it rained every day, my wife to be having these silly superstitions about rain on her wedding day kept reminding me of this. Well on the wedding day it did rain in the morning, but the afternoon was dry and the summer from that point was hot and sticky, one of the most humid and unconfortable I have experienced. 1995 we lived in Scotland but I got posted to the middle east. The family couldn’t wait to move as they had not taken to the Scottish climate. However we got stuck in a short term rental in London for August when a hitch with the visa’s occurred and nearly died in the stifling heat. I for one remember very well those exceptions.

  7. mwhite says:

    “Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly – Current”


    If the metoffice predict a cool summer I guess it’ll be time to get the BBQ out

  8. Verity Jones says:

    It has been so cool that there’s as much snow left in some of the Pyrenean ski resorts as in some Winters and, as Pierre Gosselin reports, one ski resort is reopening for the weekend – in June!

  9. Ric Werme says:

    A proper 1816-style summer should include an exploded volcano the year before.

    I wrote http://wermenh.com/1816.html – “1816: The Year without a Summer – A New Hampshire Perspective” a while back and one thing I realized in the accounts is it sounded as though the storm track had shifted south by a few hundred miles. There were some warm stretches, but then they’d be blasted by storms and cold. Sounds like cold fronts and arctic high pressure systems to me. States well south like Virginia didn’t have the same sort of big temperature fall, as far as I know. (They certainly didn’t get the freezes – frost was responsible for the crop damage in New England.)

    I see in Brian Fagan’s book “The Little Ice Age” that New Haven CT in June 1816 was 2.5°C colder than average – much like a lot of Europe on your map.

    Of course, a proper 1816-style summer should include people “summering” in Switzerland and writing horror stories because it’s too cold a damp to go out – http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/specials/extraordinary_exiles/The_creation_of_the_Lake_Geneva_monster.html?cid=12808

  10. Espen says:

    But I tell you the Arctic is boiling!!

    All of Trenberth’s heat is hiding up there, in Finnmark records are broken daily: http://www.finnmarken.no/lokale_nyheter/article6684167.ece

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