Contingency planners

These outlooks are a component of our research and development which are published once a month. For a detailed up to date forecast for the next 30 days please refer to our UK forecast.

Contingency planning is designed to mitigate the impacts of an emergency or critical situation on an organisation or community. The work of contingency planners is viewed as crucial across government, the wider public sector, business and industry.

The key outcomes of contingency planning are:

  • Assessing and managing operational risk
  • Limiting the impacts of an emergency
  • Ensuring an appropriate and effective response level
  • Key operations can continue both during and after the emergency

The forecast services in this table are more complex versions of the public forecasts and are designed for contingency planners to use. Forecasts become more accurate the shorter the range is, and for a few days ahead forecasts and warnings are designed to enable decisions on actions and deployment of resources in advance of severe weather. Longer range forecasts are designed for consideration of risk and scenario planning.

Forecast timescales

Description of product

Use in contingency planning scenarios

Type of decision some of our customers make

1 - 2 days

An in-depth forecast for the next two days, including detailed and timely warnings of severe weather.

This product is also able to identify the likelihood of weather types such as showers and fog patches occurring.

Change operational arrangements if needed.
  • Mobilising to save life and property
  • Road Gritting
  • Power generation
  • Aircraft de-icing
  • Runway clearance
  • Air to Air Refuelling

3 - 5 days

A general picture of the weather on a day-by-day basis, with the main regional variations identified. 

We have a good track record in advising of any significant risk of severe weather in this period.

Ready to change operational arrangements if needed.
  • Asset Protection
  • Call-in roster planning
  • Maintenance schedule
  • Commercial hire of vessels and equipment 

6 - 15 days

Broad description of the weather likely to be affecting the UK

Indication of likely changes of type and length of periods of severe weather such as heavy rainfall, severe gales or an extended period of high or low temperatures.

Consider changing operational arrangements.

Set up planning meetings.

  • Plan stock, resource or staffing
  • Arrange contingency cover
  • Planning meeting for severe event recovery 

16 - 30 days

An indication of how the weather might change, or be different from normal, (i.e. warmer, colder, wetter, drier) across the whole UK.

Consider changing operational arrangements.

Set up planning meetings.

  • Maintain watching brief
  • Bias of pre-order stocks 

3 month outlook

This product provides some limited guidance on potential variance from climatology i.e. possible change from what is typical for UK weather.

It is however an emerging and cutting edge area of science and users are encouraged to consult our shorter range and climatological guidance before committing resources or taking action.

Watching brief only, not used to inform immediate action or for committing resources.
  • Energy consumption planning
  • Highlight areas to watch
  • Broad indication to guide long lead time supply chain e.g. grit stock 


Detailed information about the climate of the UK including summaries of recent months and seasons, averages, extremes, past weather events, historic station data and descriptions of regional climates.

This is historical data and useful for planning and initiating investment decisions based on risk appetite.
  • Long term infrastructure planning, design and operational analysis
  • Wind farm site advice
  • Building season expectation
  • Long term mission planning
  • Resource consumption planning

Below is the 3-month outlook, available as a pdf document, provided to the contingency planning community on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

This outlook provides an indication of possible temperature, rainfall and wind speed conditions in the next three months. It is part of a suite of forecasts designed on behalf of Government for use by contingency planners.

Business or expert users should contact us to discuss how we can help with detailed & tailored climate advice.

The 3-month outlook provides useful information on the possible conditions averaged over the UK for a one-month and three-month period. However, the science, as yet, does not allow any outlook to provide specific detail on, for example, the number of nights of frost, days of rain or snow or the amounts of rain or snow we may see during the period. Nor will it highlight when specifically within the period severe weather may occur. However civil contingency planners can use the information on how the outlook differs from climatology to inform individual planning decisions.

Detailed information is available on the UK climate pages.

Met Office 3-month outlook

Period: July,August and September 2024 - Issue date: 01 July 2024

This outlook provides an indication of possible temperature, rainfall and wind speed conditions over the next 3 months. It is produced for contingency planners working within Government, local authorities and businesses who make risk-based decisions for longer timescales. These users are aware of the complexities and limitations of this type of outlook and will include those factors in their decision making process.

The Outlook uses 3 categories, linked to previous observed UK conditions, for possible UK temperature, precipitation and wind speed in the coming season:

COLD, NEAR AVERAGE and MILD for temperature

WET, NEAR AVERAGE and DRY for precipitation.

CALM, NEAR AVERAGE and WINDY for wind speed.

The NEAR AVERAGE category represents typical conditions for the season and has a normal likelihood of 60%. The higher and lower categories represent more unusual conditions that are more likely to produce impacts. Each has a normal likelihood of 20%. The Outlook shows how the chances each category occurring differ from normal, based expected global meteorological patterns. It does not identify which category will actually occur.

The Outlook does not identify weather for a particular day or week, it is published once a month and is part of a suite of products designed for contingency planners. If you need a weather forecast, our 30-day forecast provides a general view of the weather trends likely in the coming month and we also provide detailed, location specific, forecasts and warnings out to 7 days.

Learn more about the 3-month outlook in the User guidance.

The Outlook presented here is for the average of the July, August and September period for the United Kingdom as a whole. This Outlook is based on information from observations, several numerical models and expert judgement.

3-month outlook

UK 3-month outlook temperature, precipitation and wind speed