Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Met Office Now a National Joke.

Long ago I stopped using the weather forecasts issued by the Met Office. Up until a few years ago I had a powerboat and had to drag it from Oxford to the Solent: obviously a major exercise, so I planned trips to the coast around the Met Office's long-term forecasts. The majority were well far of the mark, more often than not entailing us sitting at the quayside looking out to sea watching the pitching and heaving of yachts out at sea.
Long-term forecasts seemed inaccurate and short-term forecasts seemed to be based on a mate phoning them up and telling them what the weather was actually doing. Several times I noticed forecasts changing during the day to fit what was actually happening in real-time.

To me weather forecasts have become very much like watching on of those psychic shows on TV, where a presenter purports to contact a deceased family member: lots of vague ideas that can mean anything and bent to eventually fit someone's real-life experiences.

I started to look at weather maps myself and made my own forecasts and eventually got better than the Met Office over 48-72 hour periods. It amazed me a rank amateur like me could predict the weather with better accuracy than the Met, especially in the 48-72 hour period, although I didn't have any interest in predicting further out. It seemed to me that the Met's weather models were flawed or flew in the face of what was established metological wisdom when I was a kid learning in school back in the 60s and 70s. Between then and now it seems to me there has been a radical change in Met Office forecasting.

Now it seems, the Met Office have become a laughing stock across the country for the (in)accuracy of their medium/long-term forecasts. In fact tales abound on the internet about how the Met Have changed their tune, changed their forecasts on their website and then denied that they ever got it wrong.

It seems to me that the computer models used at the Met are broken. If a computer model is so flawed that it fails so spectacularly to predict the weather, you think it'd be dumped or modified. But what seems to be happening is a denial of inaccuracy, a denial of reality.

To me this isn't about the global warming debate: I don't know if the Met is infatuated with MMGW and has incorporated it into their climate model.

All I know is they seem to be consistently inaccurate, to such a degree that were I to venture to sea again, or climb a mountain, I wouldn't bet my life on them.

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