That Met Office cold winter forecast revealed

With compliments to Bishop Hill.  While many of us await a reply to FOI requests sent to the Cabinet Office and the Met Office, Bishop Hill wrote to the Quarmby audit team to see if they had actually received a copy of the Met Office’s cold-winter forecast.

The Quarmby team have responded to Bishop Hill and have helpfully provided a copy of the forecast, reproduced below.  Fill your boots playing with the statistics…

Met Office Initial Assessment of Risk for Winter 2010/11

This covers the months of November, December and January 2010/11, this will be updated monthly through the winter and so probabilities will change.


3 in 10 chance of a mild start

3 in 10 chance of an average start

4 in 10 chance of a cold start


3 in 10 chance of a wet start

3 in 10 chance of an average start

4 in 10 chance of a dry start

Summary: There is an increased risk for a cold and wintry start to the winter season.

Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.

What stands out from this forecast is that nowhere does the Met Office say we were ‘likely to face an extremely cold winter‘, which is the line that was spun by the BBC’s Roger Harrabin on behalf of the Met Office.  The forecast above is a classic ‘hedge your bets’ effort that tallies with this Government answer to a parliamentary question about the forecast:

Francis Maude: The Met Office provide the Government with regular updates throughout the year to inform short, medium and longer term planning. In late October, the Met Office advised that temperatures during November and December were likely to be average or colder. This information was shared with Departments as part of a wider review of winter preparedness.

(My emphasis in the quote above).  The Met Office is not coming out of this at all well and their attempts at spin are backfiring badly.  I will likely return to this later tonight.

Update: 315 miles of driving later my preference is to sleep rather than blog.  But before renewing acquaintances with my duvet and commencing the nightly routine of evicting Mrs Mind from my pillow, it will be interesting to see what the FOI requests turn up.  Will we see the same information that was released by Quarmby, or will there by something else in there?  And what of Roger Harrabin?  As things stand he doesn’t look likely to come out of this one well. Fingers burned and all that?  We’ll see.

12 Responses to “That Met Office cold winter forecast revealed”

  1. 1 Jim 21/01/2011 at 5:31 pm

    My God!This is what our millions and a super computer can come up with? As near as dammit to equal probabilities of each outcome?

    Look, pay me a couple of mil and I’ll do the job. I can’t be much worse than the Met Office, and I’ll be considerably cheaper.

    And as I’ll just pay Piers Corbyn a few quid for his forecast and pass it on, it’ll probably be more accurate than the Met anyway.

  2. 2 Tufty 21/01/2011 at 9:12 pm

    “The forecast above is a classic ‘hedge your bets’ effort”

    I agree – stick with it AM. As outsiders it is difficult to know what the internal Met Office view really was for this winter, but so far there is no evidence they had any idea what was really coming.

  3. 3 Barry 21/01/2011 at 10:18 pm

    The Harrabin forecast:

    3 in 10 chance of no foot in mouth.

    3 in 10 chance of one foot in mouth.

    4 in 10 chance of both feet in mouth.

  4. 4 Will 21/01/2011 at 10:22 pm

    I just love this bit:

    “Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.”

    Yeah, really?!! It’s called spring! It happens a lot!

  5. 5 GP 22/01/2011 at 3:22 am

    I’m struggling with the concept of an “increased risk” of “a mild end to the winter season”.

    Assuming that is what happens what are the risks I need to prepare for?

    Or maybe I don’t have any risks but HMG do.

    Lower VAT take on fuel bills?

    The danger of people using the mild weather to take to the streets and protest about stuff?

    Heat exhaustion at ‘the wedding’ (I assume they would have forecast the wedding ….)

    Presumably the computer is not working so they have reverted to bristle cone pines.

  6. 6 Rereke Whakaaro 22/01/2011 at 10:51 am

    The process is quite simple and totally transparent.

    As I have said before, the Met Office has ten forecasters.

    They all get to vote on every question, and what you see from the example is the number of hands raised in response to the question, “Who thinks that …”.

  7. 7 Uncle Badger 22/01/2011 at 11:18 am

    Harrabin the Horrible may well come out of this badly but he seems to enjoy some form of immunity at the BBC. He waltzed out of the Jo Abbess scandal with ease and it’s hard to imagine what he might have to do before the warmist BBC management started asking questions about his objectivity.

  8. 8 Rut.N.Branch 22/01/2011 at 11:27 am

    Evidently the Met Office supercomputer is nothing more than a wonderful random number generator constrained to deliver even probabilities to the nearest whole number whereby, in each question that it is asked to adjudicate, the total number of chances is limited to exactly ten. I can well image the joy at beholding all the pops, squeaks and flashing coloured lights it generates during its long hours of expensive computations.

    I think I shall give some thought to the invention of a fair coin having ten faces. With reasonable a priori likelihood, it could save the Met Office some money, although it would of course be far less exciting watching it spin.

  9. 10 Mervyn Sullivan 23/01/2011 at 12:28 pm

    The UK Met Office should be ashamed of itself. What a contrast there is between the pathetic forecast of the UK Met Office and the highly informative and reasonably accurate forecast put out by Piers Corbyn. There’s no comparison. Piers makes the UK Met Office look like a qango of incompetents!

  1. 1 Eye on Britain (2) Trackback on 30/01/2011 at 1:14 pm
  2. 2 Why is the Met Office lying to us? « Peter Gelardi – Getting Warm Trackback on 31/01/2011 at 9:20 am
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