Will it be a washout summer? Scientists think they have the answer
Washout summers can be predicted months before the UK and Ireland get drenched thanks to a weather forecasting breakthrough, scientists say.
In a blessing - or a curse - for organisers and attendees of festivals, weddings, barbecues and countless more weather-reliant activities, the likelihood of a soaking by a summer storm can be gauged by the temperature of an area of the Atlantic earlier in the year.
A connection between springtime sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic and weather patterns over the East Atlantic during summer months was established by researchers at the University of Reading.
The scientists said they have 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, a high-altitude ribbon of high-speed winds, governs the direction of storms as they travel across the Atlantic.
Current seasonal models for weather over Europe struggle to make reliable long-range forecasts, particularly for rainfall.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, the team said the results have an "immediate application to empirical forecasts of summer rainfall for the United Kingdom, Ireland and northern France".
They add that the application of the new approach "could be of very high value for applications ranging from tourism to agriculture, construction, and retail".
Dr Albert Osso, a researcher with 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."