One winter forecast (not the Met Office; it might have been METCHECK http://www.metcheck.com/V40/UK/HOME/?
though neither is exacty what I remember reading) on a website which I looked at some weeks ago predicted a "very dry" winter; it also predicted that December would the coldest relative to average of the 3 winter months (which looks almost 100% certain) with January being more unsettled but with some cold weather, and February being the driest of all, with perhaps near normal temperatures by day and some frost at night. I think someone mentioned this forecast on a UK Weatherworld posting -can anyone remember?
This sounds reminiscent of winter 1890/1891, which had the coldest December CET on record, and a very dry February (in fact the driest of any month in the England and Wales rainfall series starting in 1766 and rainless in some areas in Southern England, with near record temperatures). Unfortunately more wintery weather followed in March (wth heavy snow) and May 1891(sharp frost in mid-May with -10.0 deg. C. at Ben Bevis) I believe.
The CET values and England & Wales rainfall for these months are shown below with 1971-2000 averages and difference or percentage shown in brackets:
DECEMBER 1890 CET -0.8 (5.1 deg. C., -5.9 deg. C.); E & W Rainfall 34.4 mm (100.7 mm, 34.1%)
JANUARY 1891 CET 1.3 (4.2 deg. C., -2.9 deg. C.); E & W Rainfall 67.2 mm (94.8 mm, 70.9%)
FEBRUARY 1891 CET 3.9 (4.2 deg. C., -0.3 deg. C.); E & W Rainfall 3.6 mm (67.0 mm, 5.4%)
WINTER 1890-1891 1.4 deg. C. (4.5 deg. C., -3.1 deg. C.); E & W Rainfall 105.2 mm (262.5 mm, 40.1%)
For December 2010, the (provisional) CET was -0.7 deg. C. (5.3 deg. C. below the 1971-2000 average) and the E & W Rainfall was 37.3 mm (37% of 1971-2000 average) - see http://hadobs.metoff...o_mean2010.html
So far, the winter of 1890-1891 and 2010-2011 have been remarkably similar (also in the relatively low sunshine in SE England, with only 9.5 hours at Charlwood in Surrey in December 2010, compared with Zero at Bunhill Row, Westminster, London, in December 1890 - smog was of course much worse 120 years ago.
The current CET for 1st to 7th January 2010 is 2.8 deg. C. (-0.7 deg. C.) - see http://hadobs.metoff...info_mean.html.
Obviously it would need to become somewhat colder but some days of cold days and nights could easily do this, or even if January ends up significantly warmer than 1891, February could be colder than in 1891.
We cannot expect history to repeat itself exactly though somehow I cant see wet mild weather predominating. In Northern Ireland we got quite a lot of rain in September and November, though October and December were a good bit drier. Probably the worst thing all round would be a lot of cold dry weather next spring (Not that cold wet weather is pleasant, but at least it stops drought). Mild wet weather in March and early April then some warm dry weather in May would be ideal!