Washout summers could be predicted months before they hit the UK and Ireland thanks to a weather forecasting breakthrough, scientists have said.
The probability of summer storms drenching popular outdoor summer events such as the Glastonbury Festival or Wimbledon could be predicted by the temperature of a specific area of the Atlantic earlier in the year.
Researchers at the University of Reading have established a connection between sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic in spring and weather patterns over the East Atlantic during summer months.
Scientists found a “strong link” between the sea temperature in March and April and the position of the jet stream in July and August.
The jet stream is a high-altitude ribbon of high-speed winds which governs the direction of storms as they move across the Atlantic.
Currently, seasonal models for weather over Europe struggle to make long-range forecasts, particularly for rainfall.
The researchers, writing in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, said the results have an “immediate application to empirical forecasts of summer rainfall for the United Kingdom, Ireland and northern France”.
It added that the new approach “could be of very high value for applications ranging from tourism to agriculture, construction, and retail”.
Chris England, Sky News Meteorologist, said long range forecasting is particularly difficult.
He said: “Any indicators you see today may well be very different next week or next month, and inaccuracies in computer forecasts can grow rapidly, so it’s very hard to follow those changes.
“Sea surface temperature is a more slowly changing variable than atmospheric conditions, so has the potential to provide information for the longer term, so there may well be some merit in the research articles findings.”
Dr Albert Osso, a researcher at the National Centre of Atmospheric Science at Reading University, told the BBC: “We found a strong link between sea surface temperatures east of Newfoundland during the spring and the position of the jet stream and the weather in the UK.”
He added: “What we have seen is that when temperatures are warmer than normal in this area of the ocean, the storms basically move far north and they miss the UK, not all of them, but on average most of the storms are going to miss.”