Will BBC really fire the Met Office ?

DART - Digital Advanced Reckoning Technology

DART – Digital Advanced Reckoning Technology

WUWT reader Tony Brown writes:

BBC to fire the Met Office from supplying its forecasts and end its 92 year old relationship

The Met Office is close by me in Exeter. Its local forecasts are often hopeless and inaccurate and sometimes I feel they would get it right more often if they looked out of their window instead of at their computer screens.

However, British weather is notoriously fickle and difficult to predict. The competitors are a NZ group (!!!) and Meteo, which seem a poor alternative. I have no knowledge of the former but Meteo I have found very unreliable when using them on the Continent.

WUWT reader Fretslider writes:

The Met Office has lost its lucrative weather forecasting contract with the BBC after nearly a century of providing the service. Negotiations to renew the deal hit a dead end and a new firm is expected to take over next year.

The BBC said it was legally required to open up the contract to outside competition and secure the best value for money for licence fee payers.

Dutch and New Zealand firms are said to be in the running for the contract, which is believed to make up a sizeable share of the £32.5 million a year the Met Office receives from commercial organisations, according to the Mail on Sunday.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3207392/Met-Office-fury-BBC-gives-contract-worth-millions-foreigners.html


My viewpoint is that this is much like the DirecTV and The Weather Channel skirmish. DirecTV and TWC failed to reach a price in negotiations, and TWC kept holding out for more, so DirecTV said “adios” and actually took them off the channel lineup, then about a month later, after TWC made all sort of noise rallying public support, DirectTV brought them back, at a reportedly much lower compensation rate.

I think this may be a lot like that, but given the demonstrated lack of predictive skill then hiding their bad forecast by the Met Office, plus their famously failed “BBQ summer”, I think they’ll have a fair amount of trouble rallying public support.

Josh also has something to say about it.

UPDATE:

Dr. Richard Tol adds in comments:

This has nothing to do with the quality of the Met Office forecasts. By law, the BBC has to put this contract out for tender. The Met Office’ offer was not competitive. The BBC cannot go back on this decision as the remaining competitors would sue them.

I think it has at least something to do with forecast accuracy, since the BBC didn’t want to pay what the Met Office was asking. If the value was worth it, why wouldn’t they pay it? By putting it to tender, BBC basically said “we don’t think your forecasting is worth your ask”, so take your chances with bidding.

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167 thoughts on “Will BBC really fire the Met Office ?

  1. The BBC is just playing games. They are trying to put pressure on the UK government to keep their budget from being cut. There are too many politicians in the UK parliament who started out working at the BBC and they will be fighting to keep the budget and the Met Office.
    No matter how useless the Met Office has become.

      • Frankly, as far as I am concerned it is good riddance to both. The BBC has lost it’s integrity and is no longer a public broadcaster of any worth. And the Met office is a joke.
        Hope the gov cuts all of the money to both and spends it on something that is actually useful.

      • >>Hope the gov cuts all of the money to both and
        >>spends it on something that is actually useful.
        Indeed.
        If the government had spent the BBC and Met fees on dredging the Somerset levels instead, there would have been:
        No flooding that the Met failed to predict.
        No flooding for the BBC to try and blame on Global Warming.
        No compensation and insurance cost for everyone else to pay.
        No extra heating-bill costs, due to the BBC’s promotion of Green Energy.
        Got to be a win-win situation.
        R

      • Paul Mackey
        August 24, 2015 at 12:16 am
        Hope the gov cuts all of the money to both and spends it on something that is actually useful.

        Wrong, wrong, absolutely brimming over with wrongability.
        Should be: “Hope the gov cuts all of the money to both and stops stealing it from the tax payers.”
        FIFY

    • I use the met office library and archives quite a lot for research into my historical climate articles. I have also met various of their scientists and find them experts in their field.
      . On the whole I think the met office do a reasonable job with their forecasts bearing in mind our fickle weather but ithey could be much more accurate than they are if they devoted more of their resources to the subject. It is unforgivable to keep getting local forecasts wrong, especially as the tourism business round here relies on them. A Bit more humility when they get things wrong would not go amiss.
      However the fly in the ointment are the considerable resources they devote to AGW at the behest of the UK govt. as a consequence of this I think they have lost heir focus on the bread and butter forecasting.
      By the way, for what it is worth I do not believe the Met office or their scientists fiddle the figures or are part of some giant global conspiracy. However they do allow history and observations to take a back seat and place too much reliance on the accuracy of the data they have collected! much of which does not warrant the term ‘scientific’
      Tonyb

      • Tonyb, I quite agree.
        Except, I feel the Met Office uses it’s expertise in predicating the weather three day ahead to reinforce its authority when predicting 50 years ahead.
        But those are completely different mechanisms.
        That’s false advertising.

      • Like MC I too agree with you although I feel that the ‘completely different mechanisms’ of MCs’ reply needs a slight amplification with the observation by Dame Slingo, the head of the MET, that both short-term weather and long-term climate forecasts/projections/whatever used similar modelling algorithms.
        At face value, this may seem a reasonable management attempt to reduce costs by amalgamating resources but its outcome was to bring the ‘bread and butter’ activities of the Met office into the arena of public ridicule with its ‘barbecue summers’ and ‘low-precipitation’ floods.

      • I wonder sometimes if local forecast are suffering because they are being made by those who are relying more on what their computer tells them than what years of experience has taught them.
        A computer can’t learn. It can only compute. They don’t “experience” or remember the details of a chart that wasn’t programmed into them from 50 years ago. They don’t recognize the details of a pattern repeating unless they were programmed to do so.
        How many programmers are also meteorologist (and vise versa)?

      • It isn’t the scientists that are the probelm, it is the scientivists parading as knowledgable experts pushing a global agenda for the greater good, that is the problem! AtB

    • Or the Met Office would not dumb down enough for the BBC and totally follow the BBC’s alarmist agenda. Remember Paris.

  2. Also as a Exeter resident i can confirm Tonys remark about local forecasts being very poor and often very wrong!
    Things went down hill from the moment they moved to Exeter! A very expensive and unnecessary move in the first place.

    • I agree, the problem was one of decentralisation, as people saw it, & I was one of them, the “London is everything” mentality (I know they were at Bracknell), nothing else is important sort of thing”, in the end the only thing it really did was create a mini-building boom locally & pushed house prices through the roof, especially for locals. I don’t think their forecasts have improved that much!

  3. So it’s only the Mets short term forcasts that are failures. The 50 and 100 year forcasts are stone cold locks. That makes sense.

    • Its August 23.
      Quick now: make a bet will it be warmer tommorrow or not?
      Now make a bet: will january 15 2080 be warmer or colder than today.
      think hard.. what kinda odds will you give on the first and what odds on the second.

  4. However, all national weather forecasters share data, so I am thinking it does not matter where in the world you are located if you are plugged into the METEO grid.
    What could make a difference is your overheads and actual techniques used to create a forecast.

  5. This has nothing to do with the quality of the Met Office forecasts. By law, the BBC has to put this contract out for tender. The Met Office’ offer was not competitive. The BBC cannot go back on this decision as the remaining competitors would sue them.

    • “This has nothing to do with the quality of the Met Office forecasts.”
      I think it does. What this tells me is that the Met Office’s forecasts are at least no better (and arguably worse) than what can be purchased from other vendors at a lower cost. If the Met Office provided some value proposition (e.g. their forecasts are faster and more accurate than the competition), then I could see the BBC justifying the selection of the Met Office at a higher cost to the taxpayers.

    • “This has nothing to do with the quality of the Met Office forecasts.”
      You may well be right that it has nothing to do with the horrible products that the Met Office produces from their very expensive computer and their horribly wrong ideas on what makes our weather machine work. But one would hope that now that this issue is out there in the face of the public that people will take a strong look at why the overly expensive Met Office can not predict present weather. (much less the climate 100 years from now)
      ~ Mark

      • Both you and Richard are right, IMO.
        Richard is looking primarily at the legal side of the argument while your focus is more on the inability of one of the best funded met offices on the planet to get the UK weather forecasts correct for those times when it probably matters for most of us.
        The head of that once venerable institution, the establishment-honoured ‘Dame’ Slingo, has been proud to announce that the mathematical association between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ forecasts/projections/predictions/whatever have been intimately merged so that both long-term and short-term modelling stand triumphantly atop each others shoulders.
        I, or anyone else, can’t vouch for the veracity of the long-term whatevers but have had many experiences of ‘barbecue summers’, ‘warm, wet winters’ and ‘fluffy-clouds with the slight possibility of showers’ that turned out less than satisfactory!
        Yes, they do get it right at times. I, and most people I know, can do that just by peeking out of the window and hunching a mild temporal extrapolation. Being 16 TeraFlops short of their potential computing power is no barrier to me calculating that they are almost certainly guessing the prevailing climate, 10, 20, 50, 100 years hence is but one almighty WAG!

    • This is a commercial decision.
      It has to do with the cost and the quality of the product.
      The MET Office product does not have the quality to justify the price.
      WeatherAction (Piers Corbyn) lives on its accuracy. But, unlike the MET Office, it doesn’t explain how it reaches that guess.
      The MET Office should beat that every time.
      But it can’t. As it won’t say why it sometimes gets things wrong.
      Would you pay a premium for a company that won’t disclose its root cause investigations?
      The MET Office does not deserve ISO qualification and so should not get State funded contracts.

      • I’ve often wondered about the accuracy of the Piers Corbyn forecasts. He makes a big noise when he’s right, but I haven’t been all that interested in paying for his forecasts, so I don’t know how often he is either wrong, or just so vague as to be worthless

    • So what were they doing for the past 92 years? Have they always put it out to tender and no one noticed or is something else at work here?

  6. This is all part of a negotiation. Do not expect the BBC to grab another service. The current arrangement has a long time to run. I have heard this sort of thing before many times. The most recent notable example was when Harry Shearer “left” the Simpsons. There was all the commotion about how the producers and everybody “wished him the best” with all the “new opportunities” after the Simpsons and how sad they all were that in spite of their “best efforts” they could not come to “a satisfactory agreement” with Shearer, and then there was Shearer going all misty-eyed about how he was going to “miss making the Simpsons” with all his “dearest friends” and blah, blah, blah…. Then barely had everyone had dried their eyes when it was announced that Harry Shearer had signed a new contract for the Simpsons.
    What is the betting exactly the same thing will happen with the BBC and the Met?

    • You are incorrect. The process is already under way. The Met Office are not in the next round of tender consideration. The winner will likely be New Zealand outfit Metra.

  7. The first two comments here both seem to me to make good points. It’s about money as usual. I wouldn’t trust either the Met Office or the BBC for weather forecasting. I lived in New Zealand for 40 years until recently. The only climate scientist I knew there spread his arms as we finished a discussion on ‘global warming’ (it seemed that we were both natural climate variation people) but saying: ‘Look, we can’t even tell you what the weather is going to be like tomorrow. How can we know what it’s going to be like in a hundred years.’

    • I am not defending anybody here, but this argument–that if we cannot predict short term weather, we cannot predict longer term weather (or climate) is specious. Consider an analogy to sports. When a batter steps into the box, I may not be able to predict whether he will get a hit or not, in that at bat. But I can probably predict how we will do over the course of the season. So not being able to make a specific short run forecast does not mean one cannot make reasonable long term forecasts.

      • Just two of the logical errors in your analogy. First, it’s possible to guess how a player will do over a season and be correct, simply by chance. Second, the weather and climate of planet Earth are not single component (player) issues, the game and its rules are not completely understood by the announcers, and no one in their right mind would try to announce who is going to win the World Series in 2050 based on todays game outcomes.

      • Basil,
        OK then, then make a long-term forecast. Be specific; high/low temps, extent of global warming or cooling, number of hurricanes per season, other extreme weather events, etc. Post your forecast here, since you say it can be done accurately.
        I’ll save it for you.☺

      • So how many years in the next 20 (2016-2036) will be higher or lower or the same as the 1979-2010 baseline of RSS & UAH data? Yes we will use accurate measurements not fudged numbers.
        Here’s mine. 15 years will be colder, 3 will be warmer and 2 will be the same. See you in 2036.

      • There are only three(3) possible outcomes for climate, 30 years from now or if you like 85 years from now.
        1) The climate will be warming.
        2) The climate is stable (not warming or cooling) or plateaued.
        3) The climate is cooling.
        Therefore you have a 1 in 3 chance of being correct.
        Regards
        Climate Heretic

      • However – I think I can predict that an American team will triumph in 2050’s “World” Series. What a great run of success they’ve been having.

    • The NZ bidder will be MetraWeather (www.metraweather.com) a wholly owned subsidiary of the state owned company MetService (see about.metservice.com/our-company).
      The MetService sticks pretty much to the weather, climate science comes out of government owned research organisation, NIWA and one of our universities VUW. They are much more certain about what the future holds.

  8. My work took me to the Met. Office when it was based in Bracknell. Pinned to one of the office doors was this: “Every day is the start of another error.”.

  9. DirectTV put WeatherNation on, then when The Weather Channel came back kept both ( at 361 and 362 so easy to compare /swap).
    I now mostly watch WeatherNation as I look for actual weather not (un) Reality TV about prospectors and such… (One of the big complaints about TWC was the long hours of “reality tv” in the evening when folks wanted weather….)
    Right now I’m watching a national USA animated weather map of temps and precipitation on WN while TWC is telling me about the hurricane that was news a day or two ago… if it can be spun as a disaster, TWC covers it way too much (when not telling you how Roger doesn’t like the mine as much as Bob who had a tractor beakdown… or some such crap…) WN gives you straight weather. Much better.
    WN just asked folks to post pictures of the weather “outside their window” on the WN web site so the staff could explain them. Golly, folks looking out the window at actual weather…
    Per the BBC: never understood why folks put up with TV licenses. With youtube, that has to be a harder sell now. And with online weather, The Met Office has issues hiding the fails.

    • EM it is the Law here, it is not “legal” to watch a TV, or live tv on Computer without a TV Licence.

      • Rather: It is not “legal” to watch LIVE broadcasts from BBC OR ANY OTHER CHANNEL on a TV on Computer without a BBC-TV Licence. Hence the sobriquet “Telly-Tax”.
        It IS legal to watch catch-up TV (e.g. on BBC iPlayer); pre-recorded DVDs or tapes; or play games on a TV.

      • my reply is to Joe Public.
        The license fee is now a ratified government tax. 2005 I think. Prior to that it was a stealth tax collected on behalf of the government by the BBC.
        The license is to operate equipment capable of receiving live television broadcasts. It is not channel dependent as you point out. Nor is it dependent on what you are watching. If you have a TV plugged into the mains with a live TV feed also plugged in ( free to air, satellite or cable ) then you are liable for the tax. Even if you argue you only watch catch-up. You have the capability to watch live.

  10. That’s surprising, the Meteorologists I pay attention to use multiple models, and present their forecast based on the individual models track record and their professional judgement based on local variations.

  11. Greenpeace / Friends of Earth will win the contract.
    They’ll bid £1 (i.e. agree to pay the BBC) to display a fixed image of their two logos plus the caption “0.001 deg C Warmer than last year”

    • The BBC should go with NMI and Enemies of Earth. This would give them better forecasts and a better soundtrack.

  12. I find their 1-5 day forecasts very accurate. That doesn’t mean I think they’re a bunch of saints. Their record of misinformation on global warming is deplorable. BTW, did anyone listen to Slingo on Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4) a few months back?

    • I find their 5 day forecasts are not very accurate, in fact they change it for each of the 4 days up to the original target day and then still do not necessarily get that next 24 hours correct.
      I know UK weather is very difficult, especially on the west coast where I am, but if they are not sure they should say so.

      • ACO: That’s exactly my experience (which I recorded elsewhere) – I check their website 5 or 6 times daily against observations for East Midlands areas. They even change during the current hours on occasions.

    • Did you ever actually do a comparison?
      I found that the symbols were only correct on about 37% of the time, for the first 24 hours, at Albemarle, (the nearest station to me).
      The forecast for the second day is often completely different when it is updated to the first day.
      The M.O. own measurements of accuracy are much higher, because they are too easy.
      However, I put a lot down to the presentation of the forecasts on the web page which isn’t fit for purpose.

  13. “sometimes I feel they would get it right more often if they looked out of their window instead of at their computer screens.”
    What they really need is a good computer model of the window.

  14. You dart board is missing the blindfolded monkey. Aside from that it sums up the MET office’s record quite well.

  15. Thanks Tony
    I regularly watch BBC weather forecasts, for me their presentation and details are far superior to anything else available on the free UK TV channels, btw,. beside national they also provide regional forecasts for the regional BBC programs and severe weather warnings, and the Xmas day snow betting info.
    Although I have made few sarcastic comments in the past regarding their long term forecasts, the short term ones the 3-4 days are accurate within reason, at least for us who live a bit inland. I personally, as a TV licence and the UK’s tax payer (financing both the BBC and the Met Office) will strongly protest to BBC if the MetOffice contract is not renewed. There is much utter rubbish on the BBC where savings can be made in preference to the weather forecasts.
    Many years ago at the end of the BBC world service (the source of reliable world events information) there was a shipping forecast with the rather mysterious place names such as Rockall, Malin, Dogger, Cromarty, Finisterre etc. I wish I could remember them all and in correct order.

  16. It’s already happened. The first tender offers are in and the Met Office did not make the final cut. Too expensive.

  17. also re: The update in the article.

    By putting it to tender, BBC basically said “we don’t think your forecasting is worth your ask”, so take your chances with bidding.

    No, by putting it out to tender the BBC are saying “we are fulfilling a legal obligation as outlined in the charter” By not including the Met Office in the final stage they are saying “The Met Office was too expensive and would not be considered value for money for the taxpayer”. Which is another legal obligation they must fulfil.
    People are making too much of this. All public service contracts must be legally put up to tender to bidders. It’s just the law. Uncompetitive bids must be excluded so as to give the taxpayer best value.
    I’ve bid for many ministry of defence projects in the past. This is no different to that process.

    • Price is only one part of this value.
      Can a Met service from another country really be more accurate?
      If we are saying it is nonsense regardless then price will be the overriding factor.

      • Price is the overriding factor. Short term forecasts are predominantly made by human beings watching radar data and using their experience of past events. I don’t think accuracy plays much of a part in this as one man’s guess is as good as any other if he has some expertise.
        Short term forecasts are predictions and are to some extent predictable. Long term forecasts are projections from models. This is the business that the Met are in despite a shoddy performance record.
        I’ve kind of been bombing this thread with posts and I apologise for that. it’s just a sore subject for me. both these organisations are living off taxpayers money without providing any service to the general public that is not already provided by others. They should be cut loose to sink or swim on their own merit. Arguing that the BBC provides excellent TV is no argument. The production companies provide the TV and the BBC pay them for it. That would not change if it were run as a totally independent commercial enterprise.
        As for can a service from another country provide more a accurate service? Why not? The data remain the same and the prediction process won’t alter much. Can they do the same for less money is all that has to concern the governors of the BBC as that is their responsibility to the UK taxpayer.

      • Most public tender processes of this size in the UK work in one of two ways to find the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) – either they set out a minimum standard of service (threshold), then the cheapest service that meets the threshold is selected or they set out a score criteria that is 60%-80% quality of service and 40%-20% price of service.
        In some tenders, the highest scorer wins, in others they have another round with the top two scorers -Best and Final Offer (BAFO) stage – to try and get something more from the bidders.
        It doesn’t matter the Met Office are the most accurate, if someone else less accurate is significantly cheaper they’d win on either a threshold or scoring criteria bid process.
        Unless the BBC procurement department screw-up the tender process with an administrative error (which happens to procurement departments more than you’d think!), the bidders through to the final stage will fight it out and the Met Office can’t do anything about it.

    • I wonder if the BBC are a tad rattled by government MPsquestioning the licence fee, & trying to look as if they are being impartial after all, winning a few brownie points so to speak!

  18. http://www.bbc.co.uk/supplying/opportunities/euprocurementregulations
    BBC’s published tendering policy – in general it goes out under EU regulations if the value is over £50K.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/supplying/opportunities/tenderprocess.html
    Can’t see any recent offer documents for ‘weather’ but there was one in 2014 – project_18192 for Weather Services – notionally for a 10 year contract.
    https://bbc.bravosolution.co.uk/esop/toolkit/opportunity/opportunityDetail.do?opportunityId=22105&oppList=PAST
    At the bottom of this link there are 2 published notices (in June and September 2014) which makes it all pretty clear to anybody who can be bothered to read them what the BBC is asking for.
    What it doesn’t tell us is who has made offers for these BBC requirements or on what terms. Presumably, we will find out some or all of this information in due course.

    • Good detective work. project_18192 – Weather Services is exactly the contract that has been up for tender.

  19. As the MO is buying a £97 million computer, this is not good news. Their forecasts for London and the South East have been pretty atrocious this year and I put that down to the attempt to ramp up climate change – the recent all-time high at Heathrow airport, for example.
    On the bright side, not many people get a whole year’s notice before being let go.

    • They have been using their own “homogenised” data, no wonder they cant get the weather right. It is hot in Heathrow (jet exhaust on concrete) so we put those numbers into our computer and Voila wrong answer! we must need a better computer…..

  20. As has been mentioned above, the Met office forecast is broadcast by the BBC on all of their stations and their website. Confidence in the forecast is not done any favours by the fact that one BBC channel can put out a forecast that directly contradicts one put out by another, or their website, just moments before. That is before you start comparing them directly to the Met Office website.

  21. I used the Met Office aviation forecasts professionally for a number of years and always found them to be remarkably accurate, both in the uK and overseas where there were RAF bases. I still look at them if I want an accurate local forecast. However, their forecasts for the general public have been dumbed down and, as we all know, they are quite besotted with AGW.

    • I agree with you Glenn. It was a disappointment when the Met Office withdrew the aviation low level weather charts and made them subscription based while fishermen get theirs free. There is a general drive across all industries to drive down cost without considering the ramifications, and the term ‘value for money’ is meaningless if the quality of a product is not understood or recognised. The only sector that continues to justify paying more for it’s staff is banking!

    • I agree with that. I think it is largely due, at least on RAF stations, to the fact that (a) proper forecasters were employed rather than quasi-scientists and (b) those forecasters were in daily direct contact with their customers. Knowing that your customers are likely to come and metaphorically (or maybe, physically) kick your door down if you get it wrong does wonders for quality of service.

      • yep,accountability is something the climate science community has not had to face up to yet. the day will come though.

  22. Here’s an interesting argument supporting the work of the Met Office.
    According to Professor Stephen Mobbs – “All models have biases and these are very small. It may be, as the Met Office suggests, that the observations are wrong, not the model.”
    So maybe if we take short term prediction failures and apply the same argument then we can assume that we really did enjoy that much touted Barbeque Summer, but that for some reason nobody noticed it at the time.
    Above quote from (recommended reading): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8462890.stm

    • I’m still shaking my head in disbelief at Mobb’s comment. You can’t make this stuff up!
      He suggests that the observations are wrong (you’re not seeing/measuring what you think you are seeing/measuring). But if the model was built on data gathered by observing and measuring, and the observations/measurements are wrong, then by default, the models are too!
      If climate scientists cannot even OBSERVE accurately, then we have a bigger problem than anyone realizes…

    • Yes, because there is no weapon more lethal in a weather war than condensation. Unless you’re fighting against stupidity. Then the most lethal weapon is condescension.

  23. At least the MetOffice listens to a reason.
    About a year ago I wrote to them pointing to the error in calculating their annual temperatures from the monthly averages. From the beginning of 2015 they changed their method, corrected a fifty year old error in their records going back all the way to 1659; too embarrassed to acknowledge the change, but an eagle eyed WUWT reader spotted it.

  24. I used to adore the BBC, whose news reporting used to be balanced, factual, dispassionate. Since it shifted to emotive left wing propaganda I now refuse to pay their annual licence fee, and don’t watch live TV. The initials now stand for Bolshevik Brainwashing Corporation.

    • The BBC is starting to lose a lot of money from non-payers, they should be getting more money since 100K+ homes get created each year, but their income is falling. That may be one reason why are no longer prepared to pay what the Met Office ask for.
      I wonder how much of this past Met Office contract price was skimmed off to fund Climate Change propaganda?

      • The BBC don’t lose any money. They collect the fee on behalf of the government but they don’t pay themselves. Gov. set the budget and that’s what the BBC work with. BBC has never lost a penny due to non-payment of the license fee, not in the entire history of its being.
        There is a lot of misinformation in this thread. I don’t know how much is wilful ignorance for political or ideological means or just simple ignorance. Either way the information is out there to be better educated.

    • Me too, Brent.
      I stopped watching Live TV about five years ago even though my license had still about three months to run.
      I’ve caught occasional glimpses of live TV in other peoples houses or establishments but I’ve never watched it at home since that moment.
      What started as a principle has become a way of life. I do watch BBCi, a service I would pay for but don’t need to at present, Netflix and YouTube for entertainment if I discount radio, blogs and other sources of web-based edutainment.
      If the BBC had stayed as I’d remembered it, however faultily, as a neutral, dispassionate medium I would likely have continued to automatically switching the TV on when I got back from work and switching it off before retiring for the night.
      It didn’t and I’m grateful for that. I watch what I need to when it’s the time that’s right for me. I discovered that I really didn’t need to know who’d won the Eurovision Song Contest as it happened.
      Thank you BBC. Maybe, it wasn’t the way you thought it would work out but you did me a massive favour.
      Your stupidity, my salvation!

  25. MetOffice recently expanded their activity, they are going into space ‘weather’ forecasting, maybe they have good look at the Svensmark’s hypothesis and decided there might be something worthwhile in it.
    This entices me to bring to your attention something odd in the most recent space weather:
    About 16th of August the earth was hit by CMEs ( Link1) and as expected neutron count fell ( Link2 ). Svensmark says it should affect cloudiness and the terrestrial weather.
    Today 23rd August there was another direct hit (see above link1) but the neutron count went ‘nuts’ at the time of the flair, and today count is starting to move in the wrong direction (see above link2).
    I don’t wish to get it totally wrong, perhaps Dr. Svalgaard if around, could elaborate further.

  26. Let me clarify: The issue is not whether the Met Office forecasts are accurate. The issue is whether the competition can deliver (a) similar accuracy at a lower price or (b) better accuracy at a similar price. I think it is (a): similar model, same data, similar computer, and so same prediction skill — but much less overhead.

    • I suspect you are correct. But within all this is the way in which the BBC forecasts lack detail. As a child in the 1950s I remember the regional radio broadcasts of weather forecasts being so detailed that they covered all major towns in (in my case) Lancashire. And this without satellites and computers. I suspect that that information might still be available but the BBC’s obsession with soundbites prevents any sensible forecast from being broadcast these days.

    • Semantics, they are useless at doing the job, (accuracy) and they want a big computer to make more bad calculations with bad data (cost overheads) plus if they cannot negotiate a contract with another government agency they are tottally and utterly incompetant and dont deserve the respect of anyone (not that they have too much of that)

  27. I dont have much sympathy when the information offered on a site we have already paid for with our licence fee is so pathetically poor. It used to at least have predicted temperatures and wind strengths easily accessible. I can click on several sites and get rain / sun predictions 2-5 minutes ahead – the BBC/met office you have to wait for 2 hours for an up date to the observations map (even longer at night) and this is regularly badly updated or taken off screen. accuweather gives a 2 minute breakdown for the following 2 hours – totally invaluable to anyone who works outside and is subject to the elements. The maps and hourly forecast regularly do not agree with each other and are quite obviously updated at different times and frequency to each other – hopeless. I used to believe in the BBC and Met office as I am a patriotic sort…. however they are now an expensive embarrassment who do not deserve payment through the licence fee – and that applies to both the BBC and MO

  28. Does accuracy in weather for Great Britain really matter? In my lifetime I’ve spent a total of about 20 weeks in Great Britain, and I don’t ever remember anything other than cloudy with a chance of a shower.

    • I remember a British comedian on the old Ed Sullivan Show who noted that visitors often made that observation. He then extolled the virtues of the UK summer. he said “Last year we had it on a Thursday”.

      • TAG
        Not quite.
        The most accurate description of a British summer I’ve ever heard is “2 days of hot sun followed by a thunderstorm”. I’ve lived here all my 58 years and this seems to be uncannily accurate!

    • Mark
      Here is a list of sunshine hours for American cities.
      http://www.currentresults.com/Weather/US/average-annual-sunshine-by-city.php
      I note that all of them have sunshine hours appreciably more than my own town on the south coast, reckoned to be one of the sunniest places in the UK.
      Perhaps you could explain to our government that spending vast sums of tax payers money on solar farms is a bad idea at our latitude. They might then invest in the grown up power stations we urgently need if the lights are not to go out.
      Tonyb

    • You should have come to Scotland where we have a different generic forecast. “Showers with occasional longer periods of rain”

  29. A word of support for the Met Office, in relation to short term forecasts at least. As a young man in the 70s-80s I remember getting really upset with utterly wrong forecasts issued by the Met. on TV for the following day. Later that following day, not even a hint of an apology for the error which was made- just a new 24-hr forecast issued with the same certain authority as attended that on the previous night. Infuriating.
    I think it all began to change when they could see the weather systems and the way they behaved on the satellite pics. Matching this to the measurements they were taking, they could learn a lot and 24 hr and to some extent 48 hour forecasts have improved very substantially. (Though it’s difficult to tab this as they issue updates every couple of hours, so they’re bound to be able to show a point where they do mostly get it right.!) I would, in general, regard 24-hour forecasts as pretty reliable. For this, only the most rudimentary models are required.
    Longer term forecasts have shown little sign of a similar improvement, however, and their manifest failures are as unacknowledged as were the seventies short-term errors. The forecasters are completely unabashed by their failures! Models required for long-term forecasts are clearly inadequate, perhaps through fundamentally wrong assumptions, and perhaps because tiny chaotic divergence early in the sequence make the result uncomputable. If the satellites can help with this once again, it will be through satellite data undermining major assumptions about the climate system which currently are written in to the models..
    (p.s. Richard Tol is right, that BBC has to be seen to go through this exercise, so the headlines are perhaps not that important)

  30. Gotta love this: “The competitors are a NZ group (!!!) . . .”
    Mate, we put up with your crappy cars for years. And, maybe, the Kiwis know what they’re doing. Very interesting weather down here.

  31. Whomsoever delivers the forecast may well use Met Office data for their presentation – after all, isn’t it about interpreting the data? If the BBC want to interpret their own data ‘wrongly’ perhaps a competitor can use the same information ‘correctly’?
    Either way, the Met Office get their cut.

  32. They might possibly use a Met Office analysis, but why? – the US Global Forecast System is free and at least as far as website -based forecasts go its output seems at least as good as the met office’s.

  33. “The Met Office lost its BBC contract because of rows over dumbing down of broadcasts and fears that it could not produce a decent phone app, sources have claimed.
    Although a statement from the corporation suggested that he Met Office bid had not been the best value for money, a source at the BBC said that it was its inability to produce a good enough app for mobile phones that was the main reason behind the decision. The current Met Office weather app is rated just two stars.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/bbc/11819164/Met-Office-lost-BBC-contract-over-dumbing-down-rows-and-weather-app.html
    To use an old cliche, it’s worse than we thought.

  34. Toll’s comment sounds right. In Australia and the UK there are rigorous closed bid competitive tender rules which are designed to prevent public officials giving corrupt contracts to their mates. If a public body doesn’t accept the lowest bid, they have to answer a lot of questions, even face legal action from other bidders.
    In practice of course what often happens is public officials tip off their “friends” and help them submit the lowest bid, by telling them what everyone else is bidding. The corrupt friends then cut corners to make their profit.

  35. OK,
    Conservative government in the UK wants public broadcast weather reports to be assigned to the ‘best’ bidder (‘best’ one can disagree upon; i.e. cheapest or more predictive). Shocker!

  36. People often defend the Met Office’s poor forecasts on the basic the the UK’s weather is fickle and very difficult to forecast. This is true. In which case why do we spend billions trying to forecast it? And why waste millions of BBC licence payer’s money on it? Go with the cheapest, they will be just as inaccurate as the most expensive….

  37. If that dartboard is meant to illustrate the accuracy of Met Office forecasting then it is completely misleading. There is actually a dart stuck in the dartboard.

  38. It’s a no-brainer.
    It has to go to the NZ group.
    Their weather is much, much nicer than Dutch or British weather.

    • Currently, comparing AccuWeather vs BoM
      Brisbane
      For Tuesday, 25/08/2015 AccuWeather 26C (High) 14C (Low)
      For Tuesday, 25/08/2015 BoM 28C (High) 16C (Low)
      Ok, thats not bad, I thought it would be a lot worse than that. 🙂
      Regards
      Climate Heretic

  39. “Its local forecasts are often hopeless and inaccurate and sometimes I feel they would get it right more often if they looked out of their window instead of at their computer screens.”
    Replaace ‘local’ with ‘global’ and what a perfect assessment of Climate Science.

  40. I remember the Meteorology Department on HMS Aircraft Carrier didn’t have a window to see what was really happening outside. During refit a port hole was added only for the forecasters to cover it up with bulky equipment. Sure they had the area forecast sorted, but locally when the fog rolled in …

    • After Hurricane Iniki a caller said he would like to have tied the local radio storm reporter to a coconut tree on Kalapaki Bay to report the true disaster that was really happening. The station was in a concrete windowless room and belittled the events that were unfolding.

  41. Always find it odd when travelling in the UK. They seem to provide unrealistically granular weather forecasts over an already small land mass. Its not wonder people perceive it to be inaccurate.

    • It has little to do with accuracy, perceived or not. We are a small island in the path of the Gulf stream. With competing fronts from the African and Siberian continental land masses. The weather in the UK is unique in the world, differing greatly over short distances and in short periods of time.
      There is a reason we Brits are obsessed with the weatgher. We just have so damned much of it.
      Ironically but not really relevant, the only place on earth that has similar weather patterns is New Zealand.

    • 86% of minimum temperature forecasts are accurate to within +/- 2°C on the first night of the forecast period (36-month average).
      roflmao yet again. hell, anyone could hit 86% accuracy with a 4 c window to hit.

  42. As a New Zealander, the ‘Island Nation’ stuff Brits promulgate about the problems forecasting their weather makes me smile. NZ is also an Island Nation, but is a rather larger distance from other land masses than the UK: we have the incredibly stormy Tasman Sea between us and Australia, and the other coast is bounded by the Pacific, there no major landfalls between NZ and Antarctica or South America.
    Our forecasters do OK, considering they face an order of magnitude more difficulties than their Brit counterparts.

    • This has to be a joke. I was recently in the UK for 5 weeks and I was amazed at how accurate the Met Office was considering all the interactions between cold, warm and stationary fronts that occurred. New Zealand has NOTHING like this level of interaction; warm fronts are rare (it’s still not as far from the equator as the UK). Its weather in comparision to the UK is extremely predictable and stable. Cold fronts sweep across from the Tasman Sea which you can see days out! So to say “an order of magnitude more difficult” is an absolute joke and shows that you clearly have no grasp whatsoever of the meteorology of either Britain or New Zealand.

  43. I don’t watch TV at home in the US but I watched some BBC news while traveling in Europe. They are more antisemitic than Al-Jazeera and more socialist than the now-defunct Soviet TV. I wanted to trow up.
    Shame on you, Brits.

  44. When will the UK citizens demand the end of the TV license fees that prop up the BBC? Even if they never watch the beeb, they still are forced to pay for it.

  45. Friends, I think this is better news than you may realize. I suspect we’re seeing the BBC starting to back away from the AGW/Climate Change orthodoxy. This is just one step, but it’s a big one. They want to be able to say, “It weren’t us! We just reported what them buggers at Met told us! When there weren’t no warming like they promised, we fired ’em. See how responsible we are!”
    If I’m right, rejoice! Raise a glass abd

    • Sorry. That should be Raise a glass and shout Halleluja! (Bad spelling on that last word. I’ll check with The Guardian for correction.)

  46. I’m the first to criticize the M.O. web forecasts, but the forecasts on the BBC are much better.
    The M.O. aren’t perfect, but who would do better? Who else could provide the same data from nationwide observation stations.
    I think this is a negotiating ploy. In an interview on the BBC news channel yesterday, Steve Noyes, M.O. Director of Operations said, “The dialogue is still open, I’m very confident we will have a good outcome”.

  47. I’m sure the decision was made using an impartial unbiased assessment of the data – in fact an almost identical procedure to that used by the Met Office when compiling it own global temperature figures!
    But the biggest irony is this: the one group of people who might have spoken up for the Met office are those weather nerds who are most keen on British Science and engineering: climate sceptics!

  48. I think the fault lies more at the BBC than the Met office.
    They want to peddle dumbed-down soundbites and strip out all of the caveats and uncertainties from every prediction.
    So the “Barbeque Summer” evolved from a longer term forecast with a known less than 30% accuracy to “fact” via a bit of abbreviation and cherry-picking.
    Perhaps the Met needs to man up a bit and insist on its caveats being heard.
    Perhaps also the BBC needs to have its funding cut and lose some of the photogenic airheads and get a few more Paxmans on board.
    Authority is the missing component in both camps.

  49. In 2015 new regulations came into force:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/356494/Draft_Public_Contracts_Regulations_2015.pdf
    All gov organisations have to follow them. EU regulation, of which the above is part-and-parcel, also call for service provision above a certain value to HAVE to be put to tender. Not “if it suits us”…they are required BY LAW to put the service/s to tender.
    Loads of money to be extracted in court cases…..

  50. This is a non-story. The BBC are doing what every other publicly funded agency has to do – look for value for money. The BBC is having to do a lot of soul searching at the moment. They are a largely outdated institution that needs to reinvent itself. For them it’d have actually been much easier to just stick with the status quo. Giving contracts to foreign companies plays into the hands of their opponents.

  51. Personally, I don’t object to the Met Office (I’m a Brit living in Britain), and I find their forecasts pretty reasonable most of the time. I do object to the fact that the Met Office have a direct input into the nonsense spouted by the IPCC and are happy to propagate CAGW scare-casts whenever we have a vaguely hot or unusually cold day in the UK. The Met Office effectively climbed into bed with the corrosive BBC mindset regarding CAGW and has been happy to play its masters’ tune all these years (even if the actual data might suggest something quite the opposite).
    If the Met Office could just get back to actually doing the weather, and doing that reasonably well, without any of the subliminal pro-CAGW b*llox I’d be happy enough for them to continue serving the nation via the state broadcaster – but, then, the greater problem is actually the BBC itself. Until anybody even begins to sort that mess out, the Met Office might just have to suffer its fate.

    • I will defend Michael Fish referring to the storm in 1987 as is was NOT a hurricane. It was a violent extratropical cyclone with hurricane force winds, but not a hurricane or even a tropical storm. It did not originate from same location where they form and did not have an eye.

  52. Here’s an example of the horrific state of weather forecasting.
    On Thursday, the forecast for Friday in my zip code, 98277, was for rain much of the day totalling about .38 inches. Saturday was to be rainy with about .65 inches expected.
    By Friday morning it was barely drizzling, and the forecast for THAT SAME DAY was for about .15 inches. And for ,75 on Saturday. It stopped raining within a few minutes and no further precipitation was seen on Friday. That’s a failed forecast just hours ahead.
    For Saturday they’ve ramped it up to .84 inches. That’s a very heavy rain around these parts. Will be interesting to see how far off that will be.
    Oh, all this was from the inappropriately named Accuweather.

    • At least they forecast the amount of rain, which allows actual numerical comparison.
      The MO web forecasts simply forecast “heavy rain” or “light rain” etc, without specifying the amount.
      Heavy rain can turn out to be torrential, or no rain at all.
      In their own accuracy calculations the MO only appear to measure whether or not it’s raining at all, and that includes anything from drizzle to heavy rain.
      As the MO say: “It is difficult to forecast rainfall at a pinpoint location, therefore the target for this element is not as high as for others. For example, one location may have rain and a location a mile away may remain dry.”
      My argument would be, if they can’t forecast accurately for a location, the should stop pretending that they can, and pretending that it’s accurate,
      http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/who/accuracy/forecasts

      • Re: pinpoint forecast. I live in a fairly rural area, my zip code doesn’t cover a lot of area. So I’d expect to see some of the rain they forecast, if it had rained.
        Well, today was another rain bust. It was raining lightly early in the morning, when I got up at 7am., it stopped within 30 minutes. By 9am it was clear for several miles around, and didn’t rain again all day as far as I could tell. A far cry from .80+ inches. they also underestimated the wind. Was supposed to be gusts in the 30mph range, measured gusts were in the 60mph range. Power was out for hours (but my generator soldiered on).
        IMHO, they only reason they’d get a forecast right, is via the broken clock syndrome.

      • Here today the MO web forecast had no rain until 16:00, only cloud.
        However it rained just after 09;00.
        A better forecast (based on the telly) would have been light rain showers all day, but that implies some sun, (apparently there is no symbol for cloudy with showers) but apparently the automatic algorithm they use to produce the web forecast couldn’t cope with that.
        That’s my point really, by trying to produce automatic forecasts for every location, on an hourly basis, they are setting themselves up to fail.

      • It rained for an hour, yielding 1.2mm when it was forecast to be overcast.
        Some would say that was “nearly” correct, but I would say it was 100% incorrect.
        OTH light rain is forecast from 16:00 to 18:00, so if it doesn’t rain that’s another 100% failure.
        Some would say the forecast was correct because it rained some time during the day, but that’s not what they forecast.
        Also they forecasted wind of 14mph and it’s only been around 5 mph.

      • As it happened it did start raining about 16:00 as forecast by the MO but continued until 20:00, twice as long as forecasted. Also I would say it was heavier than the “light rain” the MO predicted, but as they don’t put numbers on the rainfall, I can’t say for sure.
        Also the wind continued to be much lower than forecasted.

  53. On a recent hiking trip in the UK for 5 weeks, I frequently had to consult the Met Office forecasts as the weather was a crucial concern for me. No they weren’t 100% accurate, but their forecasts were very useful and 90% accurate from my experience. It allowed me to make certain choices which turned out to be very good ones. I just cannot understand how people can claim that “they always get it wrong” (or something equally ignorant and conveniently broad) when everyday experiences from myself and others I know say otherwise. In fact these days, I can usually judge a person’s IQ by whether or not they make such a statement; those who say that various meteorological agencies “always get it wrong” are 90% of the time ignorant people with little education. And frankly, anyone making such statements on a website like this is doing the anti-AGW movement NO FAVOURS at all.

    • Have you actually compared the forecasts with observations?
      If you compare the hourly forecast symbols of the web forecasts, for the first 24 hours, with MO observations, over a long enough period, you will find the accuracy is about 30-40%.
      The problem is finding an observation site for your location.
      As they don’t have sites for all locations for which they provide forecasts, nobody knows how accurate they really are.
      You need to find the nearest observation site to where you are, and use the forecast for that.

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