Harrabin achieves aim despite BBC Weather Test unravelling

EU Referendum has a tidy summary of events this morning, building on today’s Mail on Sunday story about the Roger Harrabin inspired BBC Weather Test project falling apart.  If Weather Test does finally collapse it will not be any surprise to regular readers here.

For in addition to the issues highlighted on EU Referendum, we can point to our coverage of the evident lack of impartiality among the individuals and institutions Harrabin had lined up to assess the weather and the forecasts for the project, which would fundamentally undermine it:

  • The Met Office would be acting as competitor and judge, using its own weather stations
  • The statistics would be dealt with by Leeds University – one of three academic institutions with whom the Met Office formed what is described as ‘a world class academic partnership to tackle the problems of climate change ‘
  • The ‘independent’ meteorologist for the project, Philip Eden, is another BBC man and has since that blog post been accused of making disparaging remarks questioning the accuracy of independent weathermen’s forecasts

After we had aired these factors we went on to speak to several meteorologists and established a major flaw at the very heart of the project, concerning the weighting of the day to day results and major weather events.  If a competing forecaster was able to produce a forecast accuracy rate for, say, 75% of the days in the test period when there are no major weather events, but completely miss major events, how would that be weighted to demonstrate that when it comes to forecasts that really matter their accuracy was found wanting?

There was nothing in any of Harrabin’s written or verbal pieces about the Weather Test that suggested any thought had been devoted to this.  It defies belief that Harrabin would have had dealings with meterological specialists about this project and not known this problem or communicated how it would be addressed.

When everythying is looked at in the round it is hard to argue that the BBC Weather Test was set up to do anything other than fail.  Perhaps the reason for this is that is provided a convenient distraction from the highly public failings of the Met Office over its lamentable 2009 summer and 2010-11 winter forecasts.  Maybe that was all that was needed.  The Met Office would be afforded some breathing space from its warm-biased forecasts if it was committed to having its predictions measured against other forecasters whose records appeared to be more accurate.  People would wait for qualitative evidence that proved what they had long suspected.

Harrabin has done his bit for the organisation he has repeatedy provided cover for.  Greater love hath no journalist than he lay down his credibility and career for the cause. Having been completely compromised by his warmist affiliations and biased analyses, and now safely tucked out of sight in the United States, Harrabin can’t be held to account for the wreckage he has left behind.  But he has bought time for the Met Office and deflected attention from its failures for a time, and for that he will have earned the eternal gratitude of the Met Office and the AGW alarmist community for his services to the cause.  It is mission accomplished – and the money from speaking at or chairing warmist events will continue to flow into his bank account as a lavish reward.

5 Responses to “Harrabin achieves aim despite BBC Weather Test unravelling”

  1. 1 Brian H 13/02/2012 at 2:43 am

    “Deck stacked, mission accomplished.”

    Edit note: “been accused of made disparaging remarks” — of having made disparaging remarks
    or — of making disparaging remarks


  2. 2 Brian H 13/02/2012 at 2:45 am

    About the extreme events, I’d suggest “weighting” each forecast by its deviation from average for the date, or SLT.

  3. 3 The Apiarist 13/02/2012 at 11:01 am

    Harrabin’s greenie credentials were obvious long before he became the Beeb’s environment ‘analyst’. Go back 10 years or thereabouts to when he was merely their transport correspondent and the theme was always “Two wheels good, four wheels bad”.

  4. 4 oodoov 13/02/2012 at 6:17 pm

    Anyone interested in an “open-source” spec for a weather test?

    I’d suggest weighting the importance of predictions by a function of the difference between day_n from day_(n-1). So being out by 1/2 a degree on a day close to the same as the day previously would be less weighted than being 1/2 a degree out on a day with a 10 degree swing.

    Anyway, perhaps we should consider putting together a proper test spec, seeking approval from the GWPF, and challenging the Met Office formally?

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