Met Office continues to hide inconvenient facts

It is amusing in the current rarefied atmosphere (another pun, sorry) that the Met Office has a page dedicated to self praise for its forecast accuracy during ‘The Big Freeze – Nov-Dec 2010’.  A couple of examples of the department telling readers ‘we told you so’ include:

Earlier this month, following the severe snow in Scotland’s central belt, a member of the public writing on The Scotsman’s website said: “The snow WAS forecast on (the Met Office) website yesterday afternoon for midnight 3am 6am etc. They are not always right but they were with this one.”


Earlier this week (w/e 24 December) the Daily Telegraph’s leader column said: “The weekend’s heavy snowfall was forecast with something approaching pinpoint accuracy by the Met Office.”

So we have a forecast range of several hours and a couple of days warning of a band of snow already evident near the UK moving in. The Met Office can feel rightly pleased with its short range hit rate. But is that triumphalist page giving a full and honest account of events?

A table on that page still raises questions about whether the Met Office is being selective with the information it shares and whether it has deliberately omitted key milestones from its ‘Met Office big freeze timeline’ which was last updated today. To back up this claim it is necessary for me to refer once again to a post on this blog about the severe weather warning for Northern Ireland published by the BBC on 26th December 2010 (screenshot below).

The Met Office ‘timeline’ for that date is shown below.

That BBC article publicising the severe weather warning certainly said nothing about a marked change to milder weather.  There was no sleet, no snow and far from freezing conditions and ice the temperature was 6-7C, with virtually all snow gone by the morning of the 27th.

Curiously this event, which would result in a big red cross rather than a green tick on the table, is missing. The only reason I know about the forecast inaccuracy was because I was in Northern Ireland at the time and, given the conditions at the time, was in a state of disbelief about the warning.

So this begs the question, were there other wildly inaccurate short term forecasts in other areas that have also been conveniently left off the table to make the Met Office’s accuracy appear better than it actually was? The ‘probability’ exceeds the Met Office’s 80% figure for a warmer than average winter…

Update: Examples are appearing in the comments… thank you to those who are writing in!

12 Responses to “Met Office continues to hide inconvenient facts”

  1. 1 London Calling 06/01/2011 at 3:47 pm

    What kind of organisation is it that fiddles its own figures to declare it self a success? Only an independent audit of the Met Office performance is worth anything (but please please, not one carried out by the University of East Anglia!)

    Split the Met Office in two – one, a short term weather forcaster, and two, a global warming swindle perpetrator. Then shut the second and privatise the first.

    Perhaps Chairman Robert Napier should return his gong. He’s done nothing to earned it but tell lies on behalf of the Government. Penny drops, that’s why he got it.

  2. 2 Mac 06/01/2011 at 3:53 pm

    The Met Office have admitted that their weather forecast for Central Scotland on Monday Dec 6th was wrong.

    The Met Office forecast on the Monday morning at 8am was, “Generally amounts of fresh snow will be in the region of 2-5cm, although in higher areas they may be 10cm. Behind the band of snow it will be generally dry and clear.”

    What transpired was 4 to 5 times amount of snow followed by severe cold that closed down motorways and trapped hundreds of drivers.

  3. 3 Mac 06/01/2011 at 4:20 pm

    Update. Weather Forecast – Central Scotland Monday 6th December.

    The Met Office admitted at 10am on the Monday that their forecast at 8am was wrong.

    The local newspaper the Glasgow Herald reported that up to 40cm of snow had fallen on wide parts of Central Scotland that morning.

  4. 4 dan 06/01/2011 at 5:01 pm

    The Met Office issued a ‘flash warning’ for heavy snow about 4pm on the afternoon of the first really heavy snowfall. It had snowed very heavily all night and all through the morning. BBC NI’s weather forecaster made a great play of this saying such a ‘flash warning’ was rarely issued.
    Guess what happened…the snow stopped and it didnt then snow for a few more days!

  5. 5 Stuck-Record 06/01/2011 at 5:12 pm

    “What kind of organisation is it that fiddles its own figures to declare it self a success?”

    One that is immune to or protected from market forces.

  6. 6 Cassandra King 06/01/2011 at 7:22 pm

    A state organ requiring state sustenance and relying on the state for its existence. Of course they are going to lie and cheat and engage in misinformation and deceptions. As an arm of the establishment they are going to support state doctrines and the state supports the CAGW fraud, simples.

    Lies and deceptions once engaged in are impossible to disengage from, more lies leads to more deceptions in ever decreasing circles. What starts out as minor adjustments to the truth always snowball and now the UKMO is so wrapped up in lies an deception it is lost in a fantasy world of its own invention. The state wanted proof of CAGW to enact its policies and they paid handsomely for it, very handsomely indeed.

    The met office is finished, yet the tragedy will play itself out and Ks and rewards and pensions will follow, perhaps the usual whitewash inquiry will clear all involved by not looking at any evidence and not calling any witnesses and headed by one of the many stooges the state has hanging around, a K will do nicely thanks!

  7. 7 Jim 07/01/2011 at 1:46 am

    As a farmer I keep a keen eye on the weather. The Met Office were behind the 8 ball consistently in predicting the cold spell before Christmas. The first I heard about a coming cold spell was via Joe Bastardi on AccuWeather. The Met Office then followed a week or so later.

    Their daily forecasts within the cold spell were poor – they often forecast snow for my area which did not arrive, and it often snowed when they said it wouldn’t! The forecasts for a few days ahead changed hour by hour, and sometimes only ended up correct by luck I reckon. They consistently predicted higher night time temperatures than occurred (and were documented by my temperature gauge). They then predicted a thaw on Christmas Day into Boxing day, which did not occur until 2-3 days after that.

    If the Met Office genuinely gave the Government an early forecast of severe weather to come, and the Government did nothing to warn the public, its a scandal of epic proportions. Its equally scandalous if the Met Office are lying about telling the Government.

    One thing is sure, if this is brushed under the carpet, move along, nothing to see here, then it is disgraceful. Utter contempt for the taxpaying public.

  8. 8 Alan the Brit 07/01/2011 at 10:02 am

    Blood must be spilt! Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. People have died & others have been injured as a result of this winter still yet to finish, let alone the billions the weather must have cost the economy. Who is going to pay? It never ceases to amaze me that the Wet Office always predict a severe weather event close to when it happens, but always get the detail wrong. When someone points this out they then claim they cannot get every detail right despite attempting to predict it. I suggest that if the WO did tell the Cabinet Office about the impeding severe cold, then they were wholly unprofessional by not stepping up to the plate & going public, as a professional will always err on the side of caution, regardless of the embarrassment! They did it over the failed summer/winter predictions of the past, so why stop now?

  9. 9 Dead Dog Bounce 07/01/2011 at 10:37 am

    Does the Met-office archive its online forecasts? And can we FOI that data?

    One of my bookmarks is

    During this recent cold snap, they’ve repeatedly forecast and de-forecast snow for the same time period. If your forecast for sunday is:
    Monday: fine and sunny
    Tuesday: scattered showers
    Wednesday: windy with heavy rain
    Thursday: windy and overcast
    Friday: Snow
    Saturday: Frosty

    You have a good chance of being correct. It would be interesting to know how much time-variability there is in these forecasts.

  10. 10 Dead Dog Bounce 07/01/2011 at 12:35 pm

    Ok, I’ve asked for all copies of the london forecast page for December. Should be interesting to see the variability (and whether it matches my recollection.)

  11. 11 Edward 07/01/2011 at 1:20 pm

    Why am I not surprised, this set of government shills are AGW loonies first, a long-ways down this list, are forecasters.

    Slingit(o) made some comments recently about the greater need for ever more advanced computer capacity, sums this lot (met office) up, they are simply empire builders and stats bods, not meteorologists at all.

    The beeb threatened the Met off’ with the possibility of non renewal of most recent contract (in reality – no chance one government AGW loonies binning another?…ho ho ho – it’s Xmas all year for these two), shame it didn’t happen, no beeb [contract], no big advertising, no kudos, eventually…….no Met office (Hooray!!!).

    Keep up the pressure AM, maybe the penny will drop!!

  12. 12 Mike Haseler 11/01/2011 at 9:34 am

    All I know is that last thing during daylight the day before the big snowstorm that cut off the M8, I checked the Met Office forecast and it said fog – I had been checking all day because I wanted to do work on the roof the next day, so I took off the tarpaulin to “let it dry” ready for work the next day.

    All I know is that I looked at the forecast several times the previous day and there was no hint of a snowstorm – and I woke up to snow on the roof. So,I was more than surprised to hear the Met Office say they had predicted it – they did nothing of the sort – given the short time, it is more than likely they simply reported the snow clouds when they came onto their radar and/or it was reported by an outlining ground/ship observer.

    There is even a suggestion the Met Office were predicting a worse than average winter (in private) whilst their public website was saying higher than average probability of a warm winter. I’d like to know why the public weren’t told and e.g. if I had know that someone was predicting a bad winter I could have done the roof earlier!

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