Met Office forecasting ability questioned by the Beeb.

Not only does the Met Office/Hadley Climate Center have trouble with pesky “moles” this week, they are now finding a staunch ally, the BBC, is questioning their forecasting ability. One wonders if they will improve using “deep black”, the 1.2 megawatt supercomputer they just purchased.

Met Office cools summer forecast

By Roger Harrabin

BBC environment analyst

excerpts:

You will need a brolly on holiday in the UK in August – the Met Office is issuing a revised forecast for more unsettled weather well into the month.

It is a far cry from the “barbecue summer” it predicted back in April.

The news will raise questions about the Met Office’s ability to make reliable seasonal forecasts.

It did indeed stress at the time of the summer forecast in April that the odds of a scorching summer were 65%. It explains that it coined the phrase “barbecue summer” to help journalists’ headlines.

But this has come back to bite the organisation because many people do not feel like they have been enjoying a “good” summer, especially compared with previous searing years.

Jet stream

Some now ask if the Met Office risks its reputation by attempting to popularise its work this way.

The real problem for the Met Office is that this is the third summer in a row where its forecast has failed. In 2007, the Met Office chirped: “The summer is yet again likely to be warmer than normal. There are no indications of a particularly wet summer.”

We got downpours and floods in the wettest summer for England and Wales since 1912. Temperatures were below average.

In April 2008, the Met Office forecast: “Summer temperatures are likely to be warmer than average and rainfall near or above average.”

That did not prepare people for one of the wettest summers on record with high winds and low sunshine.

In both instances, the Met Office failed to predict the movements of the jet stream – the high-level wind that races round the world 10km above the surface.

read the entire article at the BBC here

h/t to WUWT reader Kristinn

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Michael I

If they keep on making the same prediction they must get it right eventually but it may take a while.

David

Better get a cache before they pull it down. Or was the the Telegraph in the Gore/Nazi incident? Anyhow, I would cache before you post from now on, just to keep yourself from getting burned again. That was horsestuff.

Neo

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day

Hvordan

Maybe the mole is feeding them bad forecasts?

Rick

Hey – isn’t Watts a weather forcaster? – anyway yeah – long term forcasts are pretty pointless. The weather channel has these 14 day forcasts up here – totally meaningless – even 5 days is really pushing it.

Jeff L

From the article, & private forecaster, Piers Corbyn :
“He claims his solar-based forecasting method is consistently more accurate for medium-term predictions than the Met Office, and he urges them to give up medium-term forecasting.”
Imagine that, a solar-based forecasting method…..who would of thunk it ???
/sarc off
It does illustrate those with a closed mind on forcing mechanisms (ie – it’s all CO2) will ultimately do nothing to advance the science of forecasting.

henrychance

Superstition forecasts.
Let’s rename the the portentious entrails reading augurs. Who needs data?

Barry Foster

The BBC’s Radio 4 programme, ‘PM’ is also apparently running an item on this too – this week. It airs 17.00 – 18.00 daily.

That’s what they get for public prognostication!

Cassandra King

This is the crux of the problem with any institution that ties itself/sells out to a political narrative.
The political narrative comes first, any deviation from the narrative becomes impossible, the narrative must be served and if that means lying and/or manipulating the data then so be it.
A political narrative in the form of global warming becomes a hard wired code in the ‘machine’, the data is put through a computer program devised to churn out ‘evidence’ of global warming(AGW/MMCC) and when the lying begins its almost impossible to stop without a root and branch reform, lying becomes the norm because you have to lie to cover up the original lie and so on.
The met office accepts fully the theory of AGW/MMCC so any evidence of that theory being wrong must lead to a covering up of that evidence, a cycle of self deception perpetuates itself, this was very common in the USSR where the political narrative was supreme regardless of the actual facts and truth, upto the fall of the USSR the party line was followed doggedly, they could not admit the truth and reality.
When will we learn that the actual real world and natural events cannot and never will be made to fit a political narrative, science cannot be made to serve a political master and still remain science, it becomes little better than alchemy or astrology.
What we are seeing is the result of a quasi religious/political doctrine taking precedence over reality, when will we learn that it doesnt work, it didnt work in Maos China and the USSR and it wont work now, yet still the political classes try it.

John F. Hultquist

Lady calls to get a weather prediction from the Met Office
MET Office: Super Duper Climate Center. Can I help you?
Lady: Yes, I’m planning a party and need to know about the weather.
MET: When?
Lady: When? Well, right now.
MET: Well, just looking out the window – now it’s sunny.
Lady: Not now. Later. . .
MET: You said now
Lady: I didn’t mean now
MET: Well then, call back when you need it. ‘click’

Good for the BBC. These forecasts need to be assessed more often whether it’s in the UK, US, or anywhere else. I feel they have little, if any, predictive value, but I haven’t been able to analyze that myself. May have to take a closer look at that this year. Can’t wait for NOAA’s annual winter outlook. Of course, maybe these outlooks are done purely for public consumption, but it would be nice if they were based on something and contained a hint of value.

Nigel S

What’s on the barbecue menu? Spit roasted mole?

Philip_B

I’ll note that Harrabin was one of the worst offenders in peddling alarmist claptrap as science journalism.
A couple of years ago, he jetted around the world writing pieces on rising sea-levels drowning Thai emples, Bangladeshi villages, Pacific islands, etc, with never the suggestion that tectonic processes may have been the cause.
If he is losing faith then the Warming religion is in worse shape than I thought.

Tim Groves

More to the point on Piers Corbyn:
“The Met Office complains in response that Mr Corbyn will not publish his “unique” methods of forecasting.”
We can all sympathise with how upset they must be feeling about that.

Andrew

Hmmmm….this whole Mole thing has to do with the Met not wanting to release their TOP SECRET data……to quote from the end of the BBC article.
“The Met Office complains in response that Mr Corbyn will not publish his “unique” methods of forecasting. ”
Hey Kettle, it’s me the Pot….you’re looking pretty black!

jeez

Piers Corbyn is not publicly funded and his predictions are not being used to guide international policies.

It is interesting to note that the alarmist BBC actually includes a mention of Piers Corbyn without piling abuse on him. However, one quote is a classic:
“The Met Office complains in response [to Corbyn’s criticism of their forecasts] that Mr Corbyn will not publish his “unique” methods of forecasting. ”
Gosh, you mean he is refusing to release his algorithms and/or data? Well it’s good to know the Met Office has no problems in that area…

Tenuc

I don’t know how the Met think there’s a chance of them getting the long-range forecast right when they can’t even do a good job with the next day forecast in my area. This is a good example of what happens when you try to predict the behavour of a very dynamic chaotic system using inadequet computer models.

Andrew

jeez (22:34:51) :
Piers Corbyn is not publicly funded and his predictions are not being used to guide international policies.
I am not sure if you were making a point or simply stating some facts. I would argue that your comments further highlights the hypocrisy of the Met. I trust that was your intent.

Stephen Wilde

Well I got it right for last winter on the basis, primarily, of an assessment based on the obvious fact that the jets were more towards the equator than during the 1975/2000 warming spell.
However one cuts it the fact is that for any specific region by far the greatest influence on weather and climate is the position of that location in relation to the position of the main air circulation systems.
Compared to that factor the observed general average change in global temperatures is not discernible.
Here’s my effort for the coming UK winter:
“I hate trying to predict because everything could change tomorrow but on the basis of the current climate setup here goes:
The jets are still well south of us and if that persists into autumn and winter then of course there will be greater influence from cold high pressure over Europe and Greenland.
The matter of precipitation amounts depends on where the main battleground is between cold and warm air. No two years are the same and last winter was unusual. The cold spells were very immobile. Large chunks of cold air were dumped on us for weeks at a time with little movement and relatively little snow despite a couple of notable falls.
For the coming winter I think that, instead, we will get more occasions when the battleground is over southern UK or northern France and Germany with more snow over wider areas than we have had for many years. However so much depends on day to day variability of the precise positions of all the weather systems that I realise I am a bit out on a limb there. Nevertheless I think it a higher likelihood than for many years past.
I’m also unsure what the balance will be between northerly and easterly flows which give very different weather types. The chance of a return to prolonged south westerlies is low but it could happen depending on the synoptic situation over USA.
Last winter also showed a change from the previous two winters when cold plunges over the USA distorted the jets and gave us persistent warm wet south westerlies so we did not then share in the general slow cooling trend.
I think that the overall global trend is still moving towards a colder regime but only slowly. The position of the jets in both hemispheres still indicates overall cooling. We seem to be getting increasing cold weather reports in winter in both hemispheres despite the current absence of a strong La Nina so the effect of the previous one seems to be persisting.
Meanwhile ENSO is less negative than it was but the anticipated EL Nino seems to be stuttering. I would say that overall the rate of cooling in the air will slow down a bit thanks to the extra energy flow into the air from the less negative ENSO but remember that if the sun is weak it will not fully replace the energy lost from ocean to air via the warmer SSTs so there remains a general background loss of energy for the system as a whole.
So, (gulp!) UK coming winter cooler than recently and likely to further reduce the warming trend of the 1975 to 2000 period. Not necessarily back down to the longer term average but well on the way with an outside chance of a memorable winter.
More snow than we have been used to in the UK but generally drier than average in the north and wetter than average in the south.
A lot could happen to change my opinion but that’s where it stands at the moment

Tony Hansen

From the BBC article..”the four day forecast is now as good as the one day forecast was 30 years ago”. Any supporting data for that claim?
What would be reasonable expectations when it comes to forecasts (of any length) ?

Antonio San

So they were wrong last winter. Now they are wrong again this summer: perhaps they need a trillion pounds hyper computer to get it wrong again?

Manuel

I once heard -I don’t know if it is true- that someone did a study about the accuracy of the UK Met Office forecasts by comparing the outcome of the actual forecasts for the previous years with this simpler one: “Tomorrow will be just like today”. It was discovered that the second was much more acurate. I guess we are still in this same situation.

AndyW35

Tomorrow will be just like today will be more accurate elsewhere in the world than the UK, I think that is just hearsay.
On the other hand both the UK medium range forecasting by the Met Office in the UK and also their hurricane forecasting for the Atlantic is, in my opinion poor and as the article states these journalistic phrases they come out with do not help matters.
Their 3-5 day forecasts are not bad at all now though.
Regards
Andy

Pingo

I forecast before the start of summer that we in the UK would be plagued by high levels of rainfall, gloominess, northern blocking and hence a southerly jet. In direct contrast to the Met Office and there’s only one correct forecast at the moment.
Though I’m starting to worry that my forecast will be correct for August now that the Met Office have agreed with it.
Bizarre irony in the comment from the Met Office about Piers Corbyn not releasing his data. Aren’t we glad they don’t have to worry about their data being secret any more!

There was also an item about this on Newsnight last night where the BBC’s Nick Robinson gave the Met Office forecaster Ewen McCallum a hard time. You can see it with BBC iplayer – it’s near the end of the program.
Ironically, it follows an item about global warming in Greenland.

Perry Debell

According to an interview on Radio 4 at 07-45 this morning, it was the media which chose to ignore the percentages that accompanied the Met Office April forecast and went for the BBQ weather headline instead. However, that won’t wash because, according to Brian Gould of the Met Office, seasonal forecasting is a difficult thing to do and “this places some limitations on our forecasts.”
It’s EXPERIMENTAL !Really? Then keep your bleeding traps shut. As for the Met Office complaint that Piers Corbyn will not publish his “unique” methods of forecasting it’s not too suprising as his business is commercial and he sells his forecasts in competition against the Met Office.
Scott Sabol, Morning Meteorologist at Fox 8 wrote about possible reasons for the cool US summer http://www.fox8.com/wjw-scott-sabol-weather-column7,0,4905013.story and let us hark back to Joe D’Aleo on WUWT in April. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/06/mt-redoubt-eruptions-%E2%80%93-what-effect-if-any-on-the-summer-winter/
Isn’t it great to have sites such as WUWT, CA, ICECAP, CLIMATE DEPOT, CLIMATE REALISTS & NOT BY FIRE, BUT BY ICE?

Mac

The trouble is these failed winter and summer Met Office seasonal forecasts over the past years have cost lives, put public services at risk and has cost the whole UK economy £billions.
Heads should roll at the Met Office, heads should roll.

I watched a program a few years back where Piers faced his opposition at the Met Office and they were dripping with sarcasm. One thing though, Piers tends to get much better forecasts with his solar magnetic method than the Met Office.
They did complain that they didn’t know the details of his method, but since they were completely convinced that the Sun played in an insignificant role in the Earth’s climate and that carbon dioxide was the main driver, they weren’t too bothered to be gracious about asking.
The wheels are starting to come off the AGW gravy train. I wouldn’t stand too close if I were you…

stephen.richards

Remember, this is the Haribin of Haribin and Black. These have lied, exgarrated and abused to get to where they are now, The BBC environment lobby.
The BBC hasn’t changed anything, garaunteed. They are still firmly in the AGW camp. This is probably a politcal effort to deflect critism from themselves

Allan M

“Some now ask if the Met Office risks its reputation by attempting to popularise its work this way.”
The Met Office would have a better reputation if they were invisible to the public! They are an ever more expensive joke.
—-
Tony Hansen (22:58:09) :
“From the BBC article..”the four day forecast is now as good as the one day forecast was 30 years ago”. Any supporting data for that claim?”
Last October, I printed out the 5 day forecasts for my area for the whole month. Then I went through counting the number of times they changed one of the 4 overlapping days. The result was ~2½ to 3 ( I haven’t kept them).
Having had several tries at each day, I bet they count the number of days correctly forecasted, and not the number of correct forecasts.

Henry Galt

One of the guys here works with Piers. Even he didn’t know, or remember (we are of a generation and I remember it) that Piers, when he was younger, used to picket meteorological society meetings and attempt to give the members his system for the common good. He used to travel abroad, at his own expense, to try to enlighten them. He also attempted, via his MP brother, to give the system to HM government. Care to guess how he was treated?

Alan the Brit

“Double, double, toil & trouble, fire burn & cauldron bubble”. Eye of newt & leg of toad, add some spit & bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes & serve!
Sea Weed damp, crystal ball dark & cloudy, any thoughts?

Ian B

Well, I’m on holiday in north east England during the 2nd week of August. I’m not sure whether this is bad news (that further mediocre weather is forecast) or good (in that the recent Met Office predictions tend to be the opposite of what happens).
Based on recent form, I’m predicting unbroken sunshine and mid 20s deg C.

Telboy

I have nothing but respect for Stephen Wilde who has offered his predictions for the coming winter’s weather in such a measured and sensible way. I look forward ( if that’s the right phrase) to his being proved right. My personal method of weather forecasting consists of a piece of string nailed to the back door which is not much good for long range forecasts but is 100% accurate at recording weather. If it’s wet, it’s raining, if it’s stiff, it’s cold, if you can’t see it, it’s foggy (or night-time) and if it’s horizontal it’s windy.

jeez

Andrew (22:54:14)
I misread you first time through. My apologies.

Robinson

More snow than we have been used to in the UK but generally drier than average in the north and wetter than average in the south.

Yey! Snowballs!

Pierre Gosselin

Perhaps the Met Office thinks if the computer is big enough, then nature will begin to obey it (i.e. the modelers).
Like: “We’ve got the biggest computer, and so dare not dispute it!”

Chris Wright

Just after the Met Office released its forecast of a hot, dry summer I wrote at CA that people should keep their winter woolies handy and maybe buy an umbrella. Apart from a warm period at the end of June that was a moderate heat wave, it’s been cool and very wet. The Met is now saying this unsettled weather will extend into August.
It’s often claimed that the climate models are somehow a proof of AGW. I think the opposite is true. These seasonal forecasts must be generated by their climate models which are based on the AGW assumption. If the models repeatedly forecast higher temperatures than the actual, as they seem to be doing, then this would appear to be evidence that the underlying assumption, ie AGW, is itself wrong. In other words, quite possibly the climate models are a strong proof *against* AGW.
In September the Met forecast a warmer than average winter. Within weeks there was snow in London, the first October snow there for 70 years. Ironically there was snow in London when Parliament voted for the Climate Change Bill, though no doubt the irony was lost on the gullible fools who voted for this nonsense. I’ll be interested to see the Met’s prediction for the coming winter. If the winter is like the last one then I definitely will need my winter woolies!
Chris

Back when I was an operational weather forecaster it was the perceived wisdom that seasonal forecasts were simply not possible. What changed? Only the unwarranted faith in GCMs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. They are simply integrating random noise and the output is a random walk and any resemblance to reality is coincidental.

Rhys Jaggar

Here’s a UK climate analysis from an unqualified human being.
Broadly speaking, summers were warmer from 1975 to 2005 and winters considerably milder from 1988 onwards.
Since about 2005, the summers are much less hot, although we get the odd burst of heat and last winter was the first cold one for a while. Snow on the summit of Scotland’s highest mountain looked much more like normal at Easter this year, after a few years where there were stones on the top.
My prediction: we’ll get the odd hot summer, the odd cold winter, but summers will cool somewhat and winters also.
If there is a catastrophic increase in flooding it is due to the lack of dredging of watercourses, allied to building houses too close to flood plains.
There is also a clear picture of snow coming earlier to the Alps again, typical of the pre-1975 period which was painted as ‘normal’ in the late 1970s ski-ing boom. The fact that the next 20 years were typical of warm PDO not cool PDO is neither here nor there!
So I wouldn’t predict an imminent end to the ski-ing industry either, although the rampant building of chalets in popular resorts has brought a decided UHI effect to a few places………
I do predict an increased understanding of the inter-relationships of global climate triggers, though, which may lead in time to more cautious forecasts and, perhaps, more accurate ones.
Only my opinion of course.

Archonix

Tony Hansen (22:58:09) :
From the BBC article..”the four day forecast is now as good as the one day forecast was 30 years ago”. Any supporting data for that claim?

Considering the one day forecast 30 years ago pretty much consisted of looking out the window and then telling the country about it…

UK Sceptic

Wow! Is this a result of the HADmole/Steve Mac thing?
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20090729/tuk-u-turn-on-barbecue-summer-dba1618.html
Such candid honesty is unprecedented. Damn, I’m almost impressed.
😀

Anyone want to contribute to a more reliable weather forecasting system for the Met office? Details here.
http://www.firebox.com/newsletter/firebox_newsletter_259.html?itc=178&src_t=nwt&src_id=259
Alternatively I live by the sea just a few miles from their Exeter HQ. I could deliver a piece of sea weed to them with an appropriate message from admiring WUWT bloggers.
Tonyb

Tony Hansen

Allan M (01:37:03) re the number of correct forecasts vs the number of forecasts.
Thanks for the reply. And if 4 days out ‘it is fairly wet’ and 2 days out it is ‘fairly fine’ they will claim they were ‘fairly right’ however it might be on the day.
Is there a cure for such depths of cynicism?

Just follow the AMO index. If it stays neutral, you will get the same winter as 2008/09. If it goes negative, enjoy frozen Thames again.

Mike Nicholson

I think we better get those BBQ’s out and ready for action this weekend. The lunchtime news just broadcast here in the UK have announced that the Met Office have revised the summer forecast and we are now to expect a rainy August. On that basis, I’m getting my factor 15 sunscreen ready for action !!
Seriously though, it only seems like recently that the Met Office has decided that it would be a good idea to give us ridiculously long term forecasts. That used to be left to well intentioned amateur meteorologists watching clouds and reading wet seaweed, and I also seem to recall that the Met Office always issued a caution to anyone giving these amateur forecasts too much credibility. Whereas now, it’s the Met Office that seems to have lost it’s own credibility. Meteorology always seemed to me to be a perfect blend of science, art and a little black magic, where ” certainties” fail to exist. Perhaps the Met Office might realise this for themselves and be a little restrained in their certainties of future forecasts

On Piers Corbyn – he kindly sent me freely his normally paid-for monthly service and I found it remarkably accurate and useful – but when I wanted to go deeper into the methods, in order to better understand solar-terrestrial science, he declined for commercial reasons and I had to accept that. Its a shame, of course, because he could teach us all a great deal.
On the Met-Office – when it was obvious to me in 2008 that we in the UK were getting a repeat of 2007’s summer, I spent three weeks of phone calls and messages trying to find out whether they were tracking the jetstream. My own interest was in any analysis of historic patterns – particularly in relation to ocean cycles such as the PDO and AMO (rather than ENSO). Eventually they admitted they had no-one working on it and referred me to a US aviation website! I wrote recommending they look more closely at the patterns and refer to work at NASA on how the jetstream shifts southward under the influence of low solar magnetic status (as we have now). This pattern was most marked during the Maunder Minimum.
I also suggested to them that very cold winters could return but they forecast a warm 2008/2009 winter and of course the fabled warm summer – right now the western regions have suffered three solid weeks of rain, cold and drizzle.
The reason is that the MetOffice is not a scientific establishment. It answers to the Minister for Defence. It is essentially political. Of course, scientists work there – as they do in all branches of the military – but they are not free to speak their minds. Many do know that the globe will cool in the next decade or more – and due to the shifting AMO/PDO as much as to any solar effects. They have a mid-range modelling team that is taking on board the revision of upper ocean heat content (200%) and its implications for future projections, as well as the faulty assessment of the driving force behind the 1945-1978 ‘trough’ – now known to be primarily natural, and the work of Keenlyside as well as their own oceanographers, on ocean cycles. This group of scientists knows perfectly well there will be cooling ahead, but even if they wanted to, they could not join a public debate. Government has decided to publish only the long-range 2050-2080 model – and see no need to concern themselves with shorter term ‘variability’ – especially not before the meeting in Copenhagen.
So many commentators like to denigrate the AGW science as quasi-religious dogma. I would recommend Mike Hulme’s book ‘Why we disagree about climate change’ to anyone on either side of the debate, as it gives a very good social perspective on the climate science (Hulme was director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at UEA – one of the top centres worldwide). Its ironic that people who point their finger, can’t see the mote in their own eye – the above denigration of alchemists and astrologers is becoming a standard throw-away line. It betrays ignorance and the same tendency to simply repeat prejudice that we accuse the AGW camp of. Newton, Galileo and Kepler were astrologers as well as astronomers of renown. All founding members of the Royal Society were alchemists. So please, a little reflection! These great minds were interested in the nature not just of physics, but also of consciousness itself. Alchemy was a coded process of consciousness training based on the kaballa and Egyptian texts – it was disguised as chemistry because to practice openly would have meant loss of status at best, execution at worst. Western and vedic/eastern Astrology are part of only three systematic approaches to mapping the incarnation of individual consciousness (the others two are Chinese and Mayan). So before they are slagged off as the territory of delusion, perhaps a little reflection on where else there exists any kind of mapping in relation to incarnating consciousness – or is it justified to have a knee-jerk dismissive popular-science reaction, just like the AGWers! When Newton was challenged on his practice, his response was ‘I, sir, have studied it, whereas you have not’.
And further – the one intelligent mind to have predicted a) the ramping down of the sunspot cycles after 1990; b) the record ENSO of 1998 and the predominance of La NIna thereafter; c) 2007 as the year when global cooling would become obvious and not masked by ENSO; the low status of cycle 24 and 85% chance of another Maunder type minimum (15% for Dalton-type) by 2030…..was Theodor Landscheidt (2003 paper in Energy & Environment)…..who gets continually brushed aside and not credited because he was also an astrologer. His 1989 book, Earth-Sun-Man contains nothing but physical science and statistics in relation to the solar system, but because his system of prediction relies on the relation of the giant planets to the sun, he gets dismissed!

PMT

I find it interesting that Philip Eden is quoted and there is an audio clip of him on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Up till a couple of years ago Mr Eden seemed to be the ever present weatherman on BBC Radio 5, so he must have at the time worked for the Met Office. I used to find his discussions with Peter Allen, a curmudgeonly news presenter, and seemingly as skeptical of AGW as the BBC would allow, refeshingly open. Despite Mr Allen’s best effforts Mr Eden was never heard to be either pro or anti AGW, always describing the current newsworthy weather event in terms of the prevailing meteorological conditions and in context with the historical record.
I note he now has a couple of websites, he’s obviously a meteorologist to his bones:-
http://www.weather-uk.com/
http://www.climate-uk.com/

Retired Engineer

“a 1.2 megawatt supercomputer” ? Huh? ENIAC and SAGE probably used that much power, with less computing ability than a cell phone. Maybe that’s why they predict warm weather? Sitting near the exhaust fan?
“Mighty warm today, George.”
Not sure I’d brag about how much power my computer used. Some Greenie might take an axde to the power line. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.