Mark Twain famously said that “climate is what we expect, weather is what we get”. To no country on earth could this apply more accurately than the United Kingdom, where we experience wildly variable weather conditions but where, paradoxically, we have a touching faith in the powers of forecasters when they tell us what to expect. Given how useful being armed with intelligence about the weather conditions in weeks and months to come would be in terms of planning and budgeting for our fuel requirements, it is fair to ask: are long-range forecasts reliable?

Worst Winter in Decades?

It is customary in the autumn for newspapers to carry lurid headlines prophesying some variation on “the worst winter for 50 years”. Their source is usually a niche weather service which uses entirely different prediction yardsticks from the rest of the industry. Some time ago, the BBC website published a feature on this peculiarly British phenomenon. It concluded that the island location and other geographic idiosyncrasies of the UK meant that these predictions were impossible to make with any degree of certainty. In discussing its findings with the newspaper editors, they admitted with refreshing honesty that they published these exaggerated reports because they dramatically increase sales.

The Meteorological Office, whose experience in recording and analysing weather conditions is unrivalled anywhere on the planet, came to the same conclusion. While, the Met Office said, it was investing heavily in technologies to enhance its prediction capabilities, forecasts for more than a few days ahead were essentially impossible.

On the basis that long-range forecasts are so unreliable, is it possible to plan your heating oil needs?

Firstly, it is always worth checking the short-term weather reports, because they can accurately tell you what to expect during the coming days. If a cold snap is being predicted, always check to make sure you have adequate supplies of fuel to keep you and your family warm.

Secondly, domestic heating oil prices reflect demand, which naturally increases during the cold months. It is often worth building up a supply during the low-demand months. If you have missed this opportunity, it is still worth the certainty and peace of mind to buy a large quantity as soon as you are able. Value Oils is committed to offering you the best possible price, and we constantly update our website to keep you informed.