After the predictions of a "barbecue summer" turned out to be rather inaccurate, it might be wise to heed the Met Office's latest forecast for a mild winter with caution.
Forecasters were criticised when predictions for a glorious summer fell flat and instead turned into a season of record rainfall.
Now they have predicted that we will have a mild winter, in part because of a freak weather system developing in the Pacific Ocean.
The El Nino weather system occurs every couple of years and happens when ocean surface temperatures become unusually warm, creating a knock-on effect on air pressure and wind patterns around the world.
The phenomenon typically causes colder winters in northern Europe and warmer winters in southern Europe.
Britain lies in the middle of these opposing weather patterns and can be affected by either.
Over the past few decades there have been roughly an equal number of colder and warmer winters caused by El Nino, however, this year the Met Office has forecast that it is likely to cause a mild effect.
The last known El Nino, also considered weak by scientists, is thought to have been partly responsible for the mild winter of 2006/07.
That was the second warmest on record, official Met Office figures show, with an average temperature of 41.8F (5.47C), almost 3.6F (2C) higher than what would have been expected.
Preliminary forecasts, which take into account the El Nino effect, predict that Britain will have a mild winter this year, with temperatures above the 38.6F (3.7C) average for December.
The effects could be being felt already as temperatures are predicted to hit up to 66.2F(19C) or 68F(20C) this week across parts of the south east, higher than normal for the end of October.
However, after the predictions for the summer turned out to be inaccurate, the forecasters have sounded a note of caution.
“However, this is a preliminary forecast and there is still a one in seven chance that we will have a colder winter,” said Sarah Ineson, a climate scientist with the Met Office.
She added that long-term forecasts were difficult to make and that the agency planned to publish a more up to date prediction at the start of December.
A spokesman for the Met Office said that a milder winter “in effect means a warmer winter than normal”.
Scientists insisted that it was impossible to be sure the full effect that El Nino would have.
“It is irregular and comes in various shapes and sizes, so we cannot say for sure what will happen,” said Dr Mike Davey, a scientist with the Met Office and University College London.
He added that many other factors also affected Britain's weather patterns.
The winter forecast comes just months after government forecasters were strongly criticised earlier this year for their summer predictions.
In the end, heavy rainfall saw the wettest July for almost 100 years, although temperatures were above average.
The Met Office has defended it claims of a “barbecue summer” and insisted that its long-term prediction was mainly accurate, in particular that temperatures would reach 30C.
El Nino is often followed by La Nina, a compensatory cooling of ocean temperatures which can also play havoc with world weather patterns.
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The Editorial from The Telegraph went on to say....
......So what do we make of this latest stab in the dark? It is probably time to disinter the sledge, grease the runners and dig out the scarves and gloves.