The UK Met Office appears to have 'disappeared' their winter forecast

Guest post by Steven Goddard

On July 23, 2009 the UK Met Office issued their infamous winter forecast, ahead of the coldest winter in 50 years. It read:

“…Early indications are that winter temperatures are likely to be near or above average over much of Europe including the UK. For the UK, Winter 2009/10 is likely to be milder *(and wetter) than last year “.

This was recorded by Piers Corbyn at Weather Action and several other sites on July 23.

Source: (released 23 July)

I remember reading the article on the Met Office web site at the time.   But something funny happened on December 30, 2009.  The Met Office over wrote that link with a new article titled “Forecast for the rest of Winter 2009/10” which has no mention of the original prediction. It now reads:

…for the rest of winter, over northern Europe including the UK, the chance of colder conditions is now 45%; there is a 30% chance of average and a 25% chance of milder conditions.

Their original warm winter forecast seems to have been scrubbed from the web site, and there are no longer any press releases dated July 23.

Other sites which noted the July 23 Met Office article and link include:

According to The Independent, the winter forecast seems to have been updated on September 29, but the Met Office no longer has any press releases with that date either.

The Met Office came under tremendous fire as a result of their disastrously bad winter prediction

The Big Question: Should the BBC drop the Met Office as its official weather forecaster? By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

And this lead them to drop their seasonal forecasts, which have been notoriously poor in recent years.  What could have motivated them to destroy their original winter forecast?


[From AW– Note: unlike government services in the USA, the UK Met Office gets bonuses, see their benefits package: So, this might be an incentive to remove poor work products.

The Times did a story about it last August after the BBQ summer fiasco: It’s raining bonuses at the Met Office

And the Met Office Chief, despite botched forecasts, got a 25% pay increase in January 2010, according to this Telegraph story:

Met Office chief receives 25 pc pay rise

The head of the Met Office, the national weather service which has been heavily criticised for getting its forecasts wrong, is now paid more than the Prime Minister, after receiving a 25 per cent pay rise.




For the record, here are a few of of their other classic mis-predictions:

2007 – forecast to be the warmest year yet Wrong – la Nina hit and temperatures plummeted.

Met Office forecast for Summer 2007 Hot summer – Wrong – it was the wettest summer on record with cold daytime temperatures.

A typical British summer 2008 Wrong – it was the second wettest summer on record with cold daytime temperatures.

Trend of mild winters continues 2008 Wrong – it was the coldest winter in 15 years.

Summer forecast 2009 “Barbecue Summer” 2009 Wrong – another miserable washout of a summer.

Warming could push Greenland ice sheet beyond ‘tipping points’ Complete nonsense


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A drunk monkey with a dartboard is more accurate than the Met office….

Good catch, Steve. Does this mean they don’t have a summer projection? What good are they?


That will teach em:
Never make forecasts six months out because you will be proven wrong.
Only make forecasts 20-30 years out because it will take so long to be proven wrong, everyone will have forgotten about it by then.


Well, as long as we have Joe Bastardi, we dont need any long range forcasts from the Met Office. Maybe just as well forget about them, too.
Just like the very long range forecasts, like, for 2100….


“…ahead of the coldest winter in 50 years. It read:”
Was it really 50 years? Worse than 1963?
I think you mean 30 years. That’s what I read everywhere else.

Fred from Canuckistan

Ahhhhh The infamous Ministry of Silly Forecasts.
Just down the hall from Silly Walks.

Steve Goddard

Coldest winter for half century (as you may have suspected)
Published Date: 13 March 2010
By Jenny Fyall
SCOTLAND shivered this year in the second-coldest winter ever recorded.
Met Office statistics reveal that only the winter of 1963 was colder than the temperatures in Scotland between December 2009 and February 2010.
And for northern Scotland it was actually the coldest since records began in 1914.

Jon Jewett

It’s Deja-vu all over again! Stalin erased history when the history was no longer operative and now the Met Office does it!
George Orwell would say: “I told you so!”.
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
Steamboat Jack

Steve Goddard

WA News No 48 – 23rd  July 2009
Met Office winter ‘forecast’ 2009-10 attacked as ‘reckless misleading nonsense without scientific basis or skill’.
“It should be ignored absolutely. The opposite to whatever the Met Office says in long range has been what happened for the last three years!”
Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist of WeatherAction said today, 23 July:    “The Met Office long range forecast attempts at seasonal and world developments totally failed• to predict ANY of the 5 notable weather developments since 2007. They predicted the opposite to what occurred

Don’t make any weather predictions for time less than a lifespan starting with the predicting day. That way it’s pretty safe no one will hold you too it. Like maybe start with only 100 year predictions or longer. Plenty of time for revisions in the last ten years.


I feel bad for historians 50 years from now. Sending stuff down the memory hole is a lot easier in the internet age. Books and print media OTOH were far harder to eliminate.


Can’t put a finger on what might happen in a few months but we have incontrovertible settled science that tells us what will be happening over the next hundred years by gum.
I’m guessing there is consensus that Mr. Hirst knows which side his bread is buttered on, what other tricks can he do?


I wouldn’t trust them to accurately predict yesterday’s weather. Why are these buffoons continually allowed to suckle at the tax payers’ teat?
Of course our Bureau of Metereology in Australia is just as political in their climate assessments, but they don’t seem to be as grotesquely incompetant as the Met Office. With the BoM it is more about what they don’t say than what they do… and the dodgy surface temp stations, of course.


Everyone knows that when nothing is on the line, the models are notoriously inaccurate, but when trillions of dollars of carbon credits must be traded, they can predict doom with ease.
Looks like we are doomed to endure these falsehoods for a while yet.

Mark Wagner

a-plus doublegood

R. de Haan

I think the BBC folks want their pension money back from Al Gore.
All the Met Office could do was start over with a clean sheet, sorry clean web page!

Henry chance

The Met office is a disgrace. They couldn’t forecast the first massive blizzard of the winter until it was on the way.

Mark Wagner

“People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.”
“If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.”
“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.”
“In Oceania at the present day, Science, in the old sense, has almost ceased to exist. In Newspeak there is no word for ‘Science.’ The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc.”
George Orwell, 1984.
it will only get worse.

John Whitman

Dear MET Office,
I hear that a certain Major League NYC baseball team is looking for offices in London due to plans to expand into the UK sports market. Is yours available now that you are retreating from the weather forecasting business? The prospective buyer is attracted to your property because they will not need to change the sign out front (very much) or the stationary. They can just add an ‘S’.

Craig Moore

The Ministry of Sill Forecasts has been taken lessons from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Craig Moore

For the Met Office to say “never mind” remind me of Emily Litella.

From Wikipedia:
A memory hole is the alteration or outright disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a web site or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened.
The memory hole is a small chute leading to a large incinerator used for censorship in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four:

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.(pp. 34-35)


As a UK citizen I will greatly miss their ‘seasonal predictions’ as a regular excuse to LMAO. For more fun, this from Director Magazine, Jan 2010, in an interview by David Woodard with Met Office chief exec, John Hirst:
“Climatologists must be objective and honest, says Met Office chief executive John Hirst, but they are also human
John Hirst is talking, with admirable patience, about the summer that never was. The now infamous Met Office press release, which declared the UK was “odds on for a barbecue summer”, came back to haunt the forecaster when wet and blustery weather turned July into a washout. And there was further embarrassment to come. The Met Office projected a “milder than average” winter, before Britain suffered one of its coldest, snowiest spells in memory, with temperatures almost stooping to South Pole levels.
Hirst, the organisation’s chief executive, says the “barbecue summer” press release was carefully “couched in probabilities” and was designed to discourage the media from colouring the forecast with inaccurate descriptions. Normally the newspapers tend to reach for their own superlatives, “scorcher” being a popular choice when prospects are good, but these interpretations are sometimes “completely conflicting,” says Hirst, “so [with ‘barbecue summer’] we were aiming for consistency.”
The phrase proved a gift for headline writers. “It was well reported,” agrees Hirst, “but when we got to July, which was very wet, all that deep understanding went out the window.” It’s worth noting, he says, that both the summer and winter forecasts were seasonal, a more inexact process than daily forecasting. Although the organisation has been providing seasonal forecasts for the last five years, says Hirst, “it’s not part of our operational suite.” It is, he says, a “developing science”.
This of course begs the question: why is an experimental, unproven forecasting method being used as the basis for a national press release? “It’s there as a point of interest. We do try to couch it carefully in probabilities. Sadly those probabilities get lost in the headlines.” In any case, adds Hirst, the summer forecast was more or less right. “Objectively, we said ‘warmer than average, drier than average’. The whole of the summer was warmer than average, it was just massively wetter in July than we had anticipated 120 days before.”
It may be of little comfort to anyone who rushed out to buy a barbecue, but making seasonal forecasts in other parts of the world is often much easier. “We got the late onset of the monsoons in India, the number of hurricanes in north America, [and] the heavy rain that led to mudslides in northern Brazil. [The UK is] one of the most difficult areas in the world to forecast,” says Hirst. “We sit on an island against a major continent, up against a massive ocean. The disruption that comes from the patterns in the weather is really quite complex.”
Despite its success as a global forecaster, the Met Office’s long-term forecasting has been severely criticised by rival weather companies and climate change deniers who claim that the organisation is attempting to make a case for global warming by consistently projecting warmer weather. Although this is an accusation it strongly denies, earlier this month the Met Office admitted to BBC News that its annual global mean forecast predicted higher than actual temperatures for nine years out of the last 10.
Does Hirst feel an obligation to make a case for climate change? He says it’s not the Met Office’s job to influence opinion. “We support people making policy on these things, but we don’t design policy.” Hirst says it’s the organisation’s role to “make sure the science is robust, clear and understood. And then people can draw their own conclusions.” But, he adds, “if people are using inappropriate or faulty data we try and correct that.”
Hirst is not above making his own view clear. “When I came to this job, I was sympathetic to the possibility of climate change, but not really understanding of it. Having seen the science displayed to me, and the professional impartiality of the scientists at this organisation, I have no doubts about climate change and of man’s contribution to it, because that’s what the science shows.
“Some people say to me, do you believe in climate change? Climate change is not a religious conviction. It is not a philosophy. It is not a question of metaphysics. It is a geophysical phenomenon that we observe scientifically.”
The Met Office works closely with the University of East Anglia to record global temperatures, which are used in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Although recently leaked emails from the university’s Climate Research Unit seemed to suggest an evidence bias towards climate change, Hirst strongly rejects the accusation that his fellow scientists manipulated the data.
“A scientist has an obligation to be objective and work with high integrity at all times,” he says, adding: “Scientists are human, like everybody else. And they aren’t perfect in their use of language. Somebody hacked in to some personal exchanges. We don’t always, all of us, work on the basis that everything we say or write down is going to be made public and examined in fine detail. Otherwise none of us would say very much to anybody at all.”
Climate change deniers often target the Met Office’s seasonal forecasting as evidence of its inability to accurately predict changes in climate. But they are two separate issues, explains Hirst. Seasonal forecasts predict a specific outcome over the long term, whereas climate is about predicting an average over the long term. “When you move to climate, you’re talking about general weather patterns on a very broad scale. In climate, you are not able to say that in June 2052 the weather will be like this, but you can say over the decade of the 50s it will be broadly this kind if shape. Some people say to me ‘you can’t get the season right so how can you get the climate right’, but it’s a different problem.”
Hirst is keen to highlight the commercial benefits of accurate forecasting. Weather predictions can be used to make operations more efficient and more profitable, he says. “Look at fresh and chilled foods: quite a lot of that demand is influenced by the weather patterns. But not many people make sophisticated use of the forecasts to make them more efficient. What it needs is a bit of investment to establish the correlation between demand and weather patterns.”
But what if retailers stocked up on barbecue items ahead of a rainy summer, or lighter clothing ahead of an unexpected cold snap? “If you are Starbucks and planning your next week’s pattern of purchasing, knowing the next week’s weather is pretty helpful, you don’t need a seasonal forecast. At M&S they have a six-day, two-day and six-hour decision point on their lettuce provision: that’s well within the very accurate [short-term] forecasting parameters.”
As a government trading fund, required to operate on a commercial basis, the Met Office offers an enormously wide range of services, from advising utilities companies—”Some of the power companies’ profits can swing up to £600,000 a day depending on whether they can forecast the temperatures correctly”—to North Sea operations—”if you’re towing an oil rig you need a three-four day window of calm weather”—to health services, such as its partnership with primary care trusts that helps sufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. “The disease is aggravated by cold weather,” explains Hirst.
Hirst accepts the regular criticism that comes with the job as a function of our national fixation with the weather. When there’s “a lot of weather about”, he says, “our press [officers] are hoarse by the end of the day. People ask me, why did I take this job? Well the answer is, I’m British and by definition obsessed by the weather.”
He says the strain of being “under the microscope all of the time” is tempered by the knowledge that his organisation is providing a “fantastic” service. “Most private sector [companies] would kill for the scientific understanding and intellectual property we have in this organisation. You have to take the bumpy bits along with the joy of doing something really meaningful,” he says.”
I wish there was more….
January 2010: Director Magazine

Steve Goddard

Robert E. Phelan (16:28:16) :
Yes, the Met Office says they have discontinued their Ministry of Silly Forecasts. Not to worry though, fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.

UK set for sizzling summer (possibly)
Online forecaster Positive Weather Solutions predicts Britain will have a summer to match or exceed that of 1976

which means put on your Wellies

The Observer, Sunday 8 April 2007
Britain set to enjoy another sizzling summer after new evidence from the Met Office suggested above average temperatures for the season.

Jack Simmons

Bureaucrats must simply hate the internet.
A single individual can copy an entire press release and then re-release it after the original has expired, erased, expunged.
No wonder people wired into the ‘official’ views of things hate websites like this.
I really am glad I can sit down and with a few clicks of a keyboard or mouse, uncover what governments would prefer stay hidden.
The Chinese government wants to control the flow of information via Google. Google has said no. Good for them. This is not surprising when coming from a dictatorship such as the Communist Party ruling from China. After all, the Nazi’s, another dictatorship did not want certain embarrassing details coming out either. They failed.
To have the benefits of open markets, which China wants, you must have open communications. If the price of rice is going down somewhere, people must have access to this information, or they simply cannot make the trades that make sense for them; good bad or indifferent.
Open and free communications mean exactly that. If the government agency for weather predictions screws up, they screw up. It is obvious to all observers. Same for any other predictions.
But governments do not care to have their failures openly discussed. So, the Met, on a much smaller scale than the Chinese, are endeavoring to control information.
Right here in the United States, the home of the free press and all that other posturing for free flows of information, we cannot get the thermometer readings of a variety of weather stations from years gone by. Why is that?
Suppose, for pure reasons of sentiment, I want to know the lows of Fraser, Colorado from fifty years ago, untainted, unmanipulated, and in their pure, virginal state, how come I can’t get those readings?
It’s because someone does not want me to have that information.
It sounds like that someone needs to be removed from office.
Is this an unreasonable position?


Is that Winston Smith with the shredder?
This reminds me of 1984, the novel, not the year. Mr. Smith’s job was to modify past newspapers. Kinda the job some people at the Met Office seems to have.


Last year, I went to my daughter’s graduation in Dec. in Glasgow Scotland. Based on averages, and my husband’s testimony, I didn’t take the down coat, etc. I froze in the snow and ice. So I went shopping!! Sounds like this year has been even colder.
PS Sir Muir Russell presided over the graduation. Maybe he remembers how cold it was then.

Steve Goddard

Jack Simmons (18:16:42) :
You can’t have raw temperature data because USHCN temperature records are kept by the “Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center”
Their entire raison d’etre is to link temperature to carbon dioxide.

Patrick Davis

Ahhhh the Met Office rewriting history. Double plus good!
Thankyou Al for inventing the interwebby thing.

Henry chance

Hide the decline
Hide the sloppy forecasts.
How Inconvenient.
Didn’t The Met Office tell us their snazzy new computor would be so accurate and fast?

Dr A Burns

I’ve always wondered where Met Offices get their probabilities. I assume if there’s 10 guys in the office and 3 say it will be raining, there’s a 30% chance of rain.
What is peculiar with forecasts several days ahead, I’ve often seen increasing likelihoods of rain but decreasing forecast amounts … until on the day, there is a 100% certainty of rain but the amount is zero …

The wonderful thing about the internet is that by placing many years of mistakes side by side a bias is easily exposed. Now if only they would be honest this whole thing would go away.

Geoff Sherrington

Jon Jewett (17:01:12) : Re Orwell quotes. “There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent there will be no need of science.” Orwell, G, “1984”.


Well, is the Met susceptible to an FOI request for documents related to the decision and process of changing the winter forecast web page? A British citizen would have to do it, if there is one who wants to know why such a decision was made. If there is no documentation for such a decision, then there are other questions about why the government is paying to have random, unapproved, stuff put on public web sites.


So was this the sequence:
Prediction from computer modeling effort posted in July.
Prediction was apparently quite wrong in December.
Post-diction web pages published in January.
Bonuses all round in March

Amino Acids in Meteorites

The Big Question: Should the BBC drop the Met Office as its official weather forecaster?
So, are they going to go to Piers Corbyn and Joe Bastardi instead? Many of us here know they are more accurate, far more.
more from Piers Corbyn on video about ‘The Met’, he gives his views on co2 and climate also


The comrads at newsspeak have no record of any such article. 4 = 5


Maybe the rewrite of history is why they need the giga watt super computer.
With 7500000000000000. That’s the amount of floating-point operations (or calculations) the Met Office’s supercomputer makes every minute in its … Wow think of the accuracy? They can clean up any mess they make with perfect hind casting.

Amino Acids in Meteorites

Piers Corbyn talking about these same things in this post:
“….and they (i.e., The Met) will be wrong again for the winter of 09/010. Our forecast shows it’s very likely to be generally cold, or even very cold…in
Briton and in Ireland…..”

The ill-conceived carbon credits market & linked-fee gas tax in the Global Warming bill being drafted in the U.S. Senate:


The met folks must be the ones that had no job offers at graduation. This stuff is not hard. Subscribe to Piers Corbyn service and you would be geniuses. You would only have to spin the cold weather as AGW. Which is easy with the average college grad. Most electrician, plumbs, trades men don’t by it. Just the 6 figure California Hp type believe.

D. Patterson

WUWT, ClimateAudit, et al could get together and sponsor a forecasting service runoff, and the winning competitor is in first place for public recommendations to receive forecasting contracts….


With apologies to Mark Twain: There are lies, damn lies–and bonus-backed lies.

Steve Goddard

TerryBixler (19:15:02) :
Clyde Tombaugh spent ten years doing the math to discover the planet Pluto. That same math could now be done in a tiny fraction of a second.
Disappearing web pages can also be done very quickly on computers, and NASA has even demonstrated skill at making planets disappear (Pluto.)

Mattias, Sweden

Seasonal forcasting is built on statistics and based on those it can give a liklyhood of for example a warm, avarage or a cold winter. But weather is chaotic and every year is unique. This makes it very difficult to make a forecast. Also the amount of years with historic statistic data is limited. If we had 1000 years of data the forcast would be better, but we will still only end up with a distribution of the liklyness of cold, average, warm and dry, normal, or wet weather. And if the statistics say 10% chance of cold weather in the coming winter, a cold winter could still occur and it would not automatically mean a wrongly made forecast. It would only mean that the winter weather differ from statistical mean scenario. Up until meiby 10 years ago no weathercentre wanted to do seasonal forecasting beacause it was to difficult. I am not sure exact which year they started and which weathercentre that was first. But there are limited experience in doing seasonal forcasts, and experience will give better results. It is a also risky business because people tend to think about the seasonal forcast the same way they do about a regular weather forcast, which is based on well known physics. The weather forcast for meiby the next 5 days will have a limited possible outcome, but forcasting temperature and precepitation 3-4 month ahead will give a possibility (that could be small) for almost every kind of weather. It is the same as if we would forecast the weather in 5 days by using data describing the current weather situation and then use statistics to guess parameters as temperature and precipitation 5 days later.
So we should not criticise them to much, we shoud think of the seasonal forcast as guesses based on physics and statistics. Also I think the meteorologists try their best and they are learning and gathering experience from each year.
Still I think it isfun that seasonal forecasts exist. I know that they are uncertain but I would miss them if they were not to be produced anymore.
Sorry for the long post. Meiby you got tired of me before finishing it, but I hope I made my point.
Good night everybody!

Steve Goddard

Mattias, Sweden (19:31:11) :
The Met Office does their seasonal forecasts by running their models six months into the future, similar to what NOAA’s CPC does. Both are usually less accurate than a random number generator.


The Way Back Machine didn’t archive it? Is that thing still around?

Mattias, Sweden

Steve Goddard (19:35:05) :
“Both are usually less accurate than a random number generator.”
I am not sure I agree about that, but I would not use it to plan any activities 😉


Can I be the first to say “hid the decline”?


“Amino Acids in Meteorites (19:10:02) :
The Big Question:”.. why would Piers Corbyn present himself like that? I drew a cartoon of a mad scientist in the 7th grade, (it was a project), and he looked just like him! A barber, or even a comb, would at least present that he has some sort of control. The “Einstein” look doesn’t quit cut it here in our world of convenient hygiene.