Met Office covers itself in more bonuses

We rather hope that some media hack who is vaguely displaying signs of consciousness will seek out Met Office Chief Executive John Hirst and take the opportunity to ask this richly remunerated, teflon coated individual his definition of a performance related bonus.

For it seems that when it comes to the Met Office, performance related bonuses do not require performance to be good or even adequate.

It is utterly incredible, and defies both logic and reason, that after the manifest failures of the Met Office over its winter forecast those in senior positions will be awarded payments over and above their salaries.  The Met Office claimed it forecasted the bitterly cold early winter only didn’t tell the public, yet Freedom of Information requests by this blog and fellow blogger Katabasis drew out the forecast provided to the Government which proved to be statistically meaningless.

Thereafter this blog then exposed of the Met Office’s subsequent efforts to deceive the public and distort information sought by MPs in Parliament over that forecast.  We also discovered that the Met Office’s seasonal forecasts were only renamed and relocated rather than discontinued, as evidenced by its own Board Minutes.  Taken together these issues demonstrated it is an organisation beset by poor standards that is more concerned with pursuing agendas and absorbing public money than its core activity – forecasting the weather.

The Sunday Express, whose sister title the Daily Express was handed the Met Office story and supporting documentary evidence on a plate but failed to run with it, highlights that the plan to pay bonuses comes just days after the departments latest high profile forecasting failure.  This concerns the day of the Royal Wedding and in the story our friend Piers Corbyn gets a positive mention for his accuracy once again.

Right up to 29th April the Met Office was forecasting heavy showers that would dampen the day and affect thousands of street parties.  Many people who ventured to London took wet weather gear with them while many more planned indoor celebrations due to the forecast. Those who ignored the threat of rain were treated to a mild day with plenty of sunshine, as observed by a television audience of hundreds of millions around the world.

While the Met Office compounds its failure to cover itself in glory when it comes to weather forecasting it seems to have no problem covering itself in unjustifiable bonuses and telling porkies.  Just like last year

18 Responses to “Met Office covers itself in more bonuses”


  1. 1 Martin Brumby 08/05/2011 at 8:27 am

    I fear you are allowing your judgement to be clouded by logic!

    The fact that one might expect bonuses for the MET Office to be somehow related to doing their job of forecasting the weather is, I fear, an egregious error.

    Their bonuses, of course, related to their ability to further the agenda of the Chaiman of the MET Office Board, Robert Napier CBE. (Past Chief Executive of WWF-UK).

    No doubt this agenda of obfuscation and deceipt (and incompetence, naturally) is why the Government chose the man. And why he was awarded the CBE.

    Their “efforts to deceive the public and distort information” to which you rightly point are measures of their success, not failure!

    I think their bonuses are richly deserved! Just like the Executive Bankers’ bonuses!

    Doing an honest job for (not very) honest pay (if you’re lucky enough to have a job) is for the little people!

  2. 2 john in cheshire 08/05/2011 at 8:51 am

    I have a fundamental objection to bonuses per se. In public service jobs, especially, they should not exist at all; people should be paid a wage/salary and that’s it. If you do your job well, there’s maybe the prospect of promotion, with some raise in remuneration. If you do your job badly, there is the dole queue to look forward to. The habit of handing out bonuses to just about everyone these days needs to be stopped completely.

  3. 3 woodsy42 08/05/2011 at 9:00 am

    I agree with John. People have a contract and a salary and an obligation to carry out their job to the best of their abilities. A bonus is no more than a bribe to make you do your job! They should be illegal.

  4. 4 John Coles 08/05/2011 at 9:30 am

    You’re absolutely right, Woodsy42, but I’m afraid that the spineless Dave will do nothing about it: as with BBC expenditure and salaries, he is quite happy to listen to the complaints and fury and appear sympathetic but DO something? Never!

  5. 5 Jim 08/05/2011 at 10:31 am

    The Royal Wedding rain forecast scenario is repeated time after time on the Met Office site, throughout the summer. It constantly predicts rain 4-5 days out, then as those days get closer, usually reduces the amount of rain as its predictive powers increase. They can usually get it right 24 hours ahead (not perfect by any means but better than 50%). Beyond that they are just guessing, and I think they choose to err on the side of rain, because they would get less complaints by wrongly predicting rain, than wrongly predicting dry weather.

  6. 6 Martin Brumby 08/05/2011 at 10:43 am

    @Jim

    Yes, that sounds about right.

    I had the idea years ago, when pregnancy tests were first coming out, to start an operation inviting people to send in a sample, a S.A.E. and a tenner and offer a full refund if the test result was wrong.

    The sample would have gone straight in the bin, a pre-printed ‘certificate’ offering congratulations on being pregnant would have gone in the envelope and the tenner would have gone in my trouser pocket.

    Anyone going to the trouble to send a sample etc in would have been more likely to be pregnant than not and anyone who subsequently proved not to be pregnant could be consoled by a note expressing regret that they had ‘lost the baby’.

    I’m sure it would have worked. But I liked the idea of still being happy to look in the mirror in the morning even more.

    The Met office probably work on a not dissimilar assumption. Warning people it might rain when it doesn’t is always going to be a safer option than promising sunshine when it actually pisses it down.

  7. 7 Uncle Badger 08/05/2011 at 12:34 pm

    Better than 50% accuracy, Jim? Not where I live it isn’t!

    Particularly at this time of year, as a keen gardener, I have to watch like a hawk for frosts. The Met Office’s forecasts as pumped-out by their fellow incompetents at the BBC are almost entirely useless.

    A case in point. A week or so ago, a Chinese digital weather forecasting toy I have was predicting a ‘tempest’ for later that day. The local area forecast via the BBC was having none of it.

    All day, the ‘tempest’ warning was there – right until the thunderstorm and heavy rain began, just as predicted, late that evening.

    The BBC finally notified us about the storm – twenty minutes after it had started.

    If my £20 Chinese weather station can predict a storm, why can’t the Met Office’s £30 million IBM?

    Perhaps I should offer to hire it to them at, shall we say, a knock-down £50,000 a week?

  8. 8 Climate Change Con....... 08/05/2011 at 1:57 pm

    Richard Lindzen :
    American atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lindzen is known for his work in the dynamics of the middle atmosphere, atmospheric tides and ozone photochemistry. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and books.He was a lead author of Chapter 7, ‘Physical Climate Processes and Feedbacks,’ of the IPCC Third Assessment Report on climate change. He is a well known skeptic of global warming and critic of what he states are political pressures on climate scientists to conform to what he has called climate alarmism.

  9. 9 Climate Change Con....... 08/05/2011 at 1:59 pm

    John Christy : a distinguished professor of atmospheric science, and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He was appointed Alabama’s state climatologist in 2000. For his development of a global temperature data set from satellites he was awarded NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, and the American Meteorological Society’s “Special Award. In 2002, Christy was elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

  10. 10 Steve 09/05/2011 at 8:55 pm

    May be worth mentioning that the Met Office, alongside the Japanese weather forecast service are judged by ECMWF to be the two most accurate operational forecasters in the world. The climate research department is highly regarded, and its papers the most highly cited of any environmental research organisation in the world. The Met Office model has been exported to Australia, South Korea, Norway, India and the US Navy.

  11. 11 Autonomous Mind 09/05/2011 at 10:22 pm

    What does all that matter when they are still incapable of forecasting with the same level of accuracy as other forecasters? That is the issue.

  12. 12 Steve 10/05/2011 at 1:45 pm

    The long term analysis suggests they are better, not the same.

    If you are really concerned about one particular forecast for one particular wedding, find out what the weather was like on the day.

    I am by no means an expert in analysing these things, but the radar images show a number of showers dotted around London through the day, and lightning detectors (“sferics” in the parlance) showed a band of thunderstorms passing north of London in the afternoon.

    So if you’d wanted to choose a day ahead whether to take rain gear on the day, the best advice was to take it, not to leave it behind. If you wanted to choose on the day, the morning forecast was for 10% chance of showers in the morning and 30% later which looks not unreasonable to me.

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2011/royal-wedding-forecast

    Oh! And I see they’ve just sold their services to Singapore too.

    A British success story surely, and just at the time when the Europeans want to create a European climate centre and take our government money to build a computer for European climate modelling.

  13. 13 AJC 10/05/2011 at 5:36 pm

    “… and just at the time when the Europeans want to create a European climate centre and take our government money to build a computer for European climate modelling.”

    Neither our (UK) government nor the EU have any money unless they print it or raise it by way of tax from us – its our money they are intent on spending. Perhaps they intend to finance a new super-computer by selling carbon credits!

    Is this kite being flown for the The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading? btw the ECMWF is not purely EU financed.

    If weather forecasting were a multi-national business there would appear to be a very obvious synergy with the Met Office (super) computing center in Exeter.

  14. 14 Autonomous Mind 10/05/2011 at 8:20 pm

    I really do applaud your repeated attempts to shill for the Met Office and parrot their spin on here Steve, but you’re wasting your time. The facts speak for themselves, from the deceit over the winter forecast to the lie over seasonal forecasts.

    In any case, what long term analysis are you using? Roger Harrabin, friend of the Met Office, is setting up his Met Office friendly ‘weather test’ because there is no long term analysis.

    As you feel the need to stay tightly focused on the Royal Wedding day, consider this. The forecast issued that morning was a waste of time seeing that most people made their arrangements well in advance. That isn’t forecasting, it is nowcasting. What you are clearly saying is that this ‘British success story’ adds no more valuable to you than using your own eyes to look out of the window.

  15. 15 AJC 10/05/2011 at 11:09 pm

    Don’t forget when discussing the Met Office, climate change and supercomputers the clueless pronouncements of Julia Sligo (Chief Scientist) and of the numpty John Hirst (Chief Executive).

    Hirst was famously skewered by Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics (Jan 2010).

    I notice that they both appear to have adopted Abraham Lincoln’s dictum “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” in the last year or so.

  16. 16 Steve 11/05/2011 at 7:33 pm

    Nobody has asked me to parrot anything. I don’t think you should use the word “shill” as long as you are going to remain anonymous.

    Why don’t you put one of your FOIs in for the radar images of the day.

  17. 17 Autonomous Mind 12/05/2011 at 11:54 pm

    There is no point doing an FOI because the radar image of the day has no bearing on the forecasts in the days up to the event that said there would be rain.


  1. 1 Met Office’s pathetic self justification and lack of attention to detail « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 25/06/2011 at 12:54 pm
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