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Posts Archive

August, 2017

Not the briar patch, Brer Trump!

March, 2017

A Serious Case of the DTs

January, 2017

The American Yeltsin
Sunlight Through Troubled Times
Beyond Zealots and Cold-War Warriors

December, 2016

A Vandal at the Gates of Rome

October, 2016

Are you conscious?

September, 2016

Brave New World?

August, 2016

Stop, for a moment.

July, 2016

Rupert's Coup

March, 2016

Between a Shill and a Hard Case

July, 2015

Swimming in a sea of sugar

June, 2015

Information Rich, Attention Poor
Nerds need to get out more ...

March, 2015

There is a homunculus at the end of the garden path

October, 2014

Determination, not dreams
Welcome Home
Addicted to GDP
Irony?Karma? - take your pick

August, 2014

History? Whose story?
Marketing Ebola

July, 2014

As above, so below

December, 2013

A time for tolerance

November, 2013

Thinking out of the xBox
The old ones are the best ones ...
Welcome to the Gulag

October, 2013

A timely response to spying

September, 2013

Obedience and the Machine
Ban the bible?
Fracticide - don't do it.

July, 2013

Serfing, USUK

June, 2013

Deafened by gossip

May, 2013

Who needs words...?

April, 2013

Why would they stop?
It must be true

March, 2013

Beyond belief

February, 2013

RBS: doing Fine, not Time
Pillars tumbling down
Trouble with models
A matter of perspective

January, 2013

Royal Promo
Boiling the Lance
Boson Brains Rule

November, 2012

Burning symbols

October, 2012

Charles and Jimmy's little secret
Beach bums and Magi
A Reality Check
Happy Birthday

August, 2012

A journey through riotous times

July, 2012

Caring for life
Not everyone for Tennis?
A banker lie? Unthinkable!

June, 2012

A cynical ploy
Collateral damage for The United States of Europe
Will you walk into my parlour?
Beams and motes
From one Jubilee to another

May, 2012

Perturbations
A crazy idea
The course of time
Sorry, Harry

April, 2012

Cracks in the Rear-View Mirror
A keeper of sheeple
Principled Policing
Say goodbye to Betty
Lessons learned
Causality and good news
Manufactured irrelevance
Corporate responsibility

March, 2012

Poppycock - without question
Who's pushing your buttons?
Investigate the Blair-Murdoch Conspiracy

February, 2012

In Praise of The Seven Liberal Arts
The real story
When giving is taking
Giving it all away

November, 2011

Poking a hornets nest
Wealth of Nations poured away
Squeaky and the Paedophile Prince
Boiling frogs
Death of an industry
Change blindness
What a world ...

October, 2011

Gifts
Pictures and words
Screeching to a halt.
Taxing noise

September, 2011

Hand over your money
Breeding psychopaths
Mr Fox, is the hen house safe?
A ludicrous Conspiracy Theory
Can you believe your eyes?
Getting eye contact
Partners in Crime

July, 2011

It was the Wettins 'wot won it'

May, 2011

Kevin
Heir apparently

April, 2011

Putting Emergencies in Context
Underground networks travelling First Class

March, 2011

Be careful what you ask for
Water - a tale of two countries
Newspeak
Here we go again ...
Wake up!!!

February, 2011

Priorities
The right stuff
Revolution! ... and yet, and yet.
Follow the money
Shh - don't tell the children
Does the MoD have a Cunning Plan?

January, 2011

Met Office caught in winter weather whitewash
Read between the lines
The new parable of Noah
Banking on People

November, 2010

Wettins don't say sorry
It's just not fair ...
Remember, remember ...

October, 2010

Kindness sees no crime
Pundits in the frame
Killer drones target the middle class
A tale of two Charlies

September, 2010

A failure to discriminate ...
Good Grief
A rent-boy's rent-boy

August, 2010

Size psycho-fancy
Baiting a Wikid Trap?

July, 2010

... at the gates of Rome
Monday musings

June, 2010

Guilty - but not charged
Psychopaths at the door

May, 2010

ConDemned to the Shock Doctor
Driven by metaphor
Guns and Banksters
Death of Old Conker

April, 2010

Bankster at bay ...
Nuke Iceland?
Smokescreen

March, 2010

It's how you say it ...
Bullying Manner
Quelle surprise!
Iceland - showing the way.

February, 2010

Small steps to a far place
Seeds of silence

January, 2010

Liar
So who needs people?
Late and censored
Freedom for life

December, 2009

Patterns
Testament
Boy-friendly!

October, 2009

Fools served by Zombies
Webs
BBC dogs that didn't bark ...

September, 2009

Taken Hostage

August, 2009

Have a good weekend ...
High Frequency Trading ...
Money money money
Fit for a politician

July, 2009

Inside clouds

June, 2009

Fond thoughts of Tony Blair ...
A good day ...
Midnight musing

May, 2009

aaah diddums
Zal may ...

April, 2009

Echos of a dark past
Sharks in the Shadows
Worlds Apart

January, 2009

Money Matters
Killing History
Magic

December, 2008

Home improvements
Get the Picture?

November, 2008

Barak - the movie

October, 2008

Won't get fooled again
Bankers, all of them!

September, 2008

And The Winner is ...
Light relief
A Financial 9/11
That's Lucky!
On this day

August, 2008

Mark My Words

July, 2008

The Management Myth
Sense Making Questions

June, 2008

Beware this Griffin
42 Day Folly
A Tortured Silence

May, 2008

A new Dawn needed
Is Justin Webb A Neo-Con?
The Puppy, the Mountain and the Fascists

April, 2008

Attention Pays

March, 2008

Fat Cats and Pork Pies
Fed up Darling?
Swearing - it's just not British!

October, 2007

TsarkoMania

Met Office caught in winter weather whitewash   January 30, 2011

The UK Met Office has recently been much maligned for the poor quality of its long range weather forecasts in comparison to private forecasters who have a higher success rate. So much so that the bookies have banned Piers Corbyn at WeatherAction from betting on his own forecasts -v- the Met Office ones.

Now the Met Office has claimed that in October it did forecast this winter would be much colder than usual, but only in private to the UK government. At the same time, it was issuing this forecast of a warmer winter to the UK public:

October 2010 forecast

The BBC's Roger Harrabin claims that

"The truth is it [The Met Office] did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October. But we weren’t let in on the secret. “The reason? The Met Office no longer publishes its seasonal forecasts because of the ridicule it suffered for predicting a barbecue summer in 2009 – the summer that campers floated around in their tents."
Are we supposed to feel sorry for the Met Office for being scared to publish what it really believes while keeping the general public in the dark? Let alone misleading the local authorities that still believe its forecasts when preparing winter contingency plans. The Government's Winter Contingency Planners accepted what the Met Office told them, and acted accordingly i.e. didn't plan for a extra-bad winter. It still makes useful reading. 
We have discussed these issues in some depth with the Met Office and their climate research team at the Met Office Hadley Centre…we are advised to assume that the chance of a severe winter in 2010-11 is no greater (or less) than the current general probability of 1 in 20…The probability of the next winter being severe is virtually unrelated to the fact of just having experienced two severe winters, and is still about 1 in 20. The effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK…we need to understand and accept that the chance of a severe winter is still relatively small…the probability of next winter being severe continues to be relatively small.

So - if the odds each year are 1:20, and the probability of one severe winter is "virtually unrelated" to another severe winter, that makes the cumulative odds 1:400 for two years, and 1:8000 (or 0.0125%) for three years in a row.

We are always being reminded that weather is not climate. Fine. But when once-in-8000 year ‘weather’ events turn up you really do have to start asking questions. When the Met Office in their UKCP08 report were projecting much warmer summer and winter temperatures in UK to 70% and 90% confidence, that same year they would have put 99.9875% confidence on there not being three extreme winters on the trot.

On its own blog it now says 

"We provided a long-range forecast to the Cabinet Office at the end of October highlighting the risk of a cold start to the winter. This forecast is used by government officials across the UK to support long-term planning."
and
"We do not issue long-range forecasts to the public, as following research they have told us that they are of little use to them and they would prefer forecasts for shorter timescales. Therefore we offer forecasts for 6 to 15 days and 16 to 30 days ahead on our website."

We are now meant to believe the prediction of a warmer winter published in October was not a forecast we should have believed, because, err, it was a prediction, not a forecast. You might, like me, be wondering what the difference is between “forecast” and “prediction”. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2007) gives the following definitions.

forecast noun.
A conjectural estimate, based on present indications, of something in the future, esp. of coming weather; a prediction.
prediction noun.
The action of predicting future events; an instance of this, a forecast, a prophecy.
Hmmmm.

According to the BBC’s Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin
“I phoned the Met Office about this statement and the Met Office press office told me they’d given information to the Cabinet Office that we were facing an early cold winter. The Beeb now has an FoI request to Cabinet Office requesting verbatim info from the Met Office.”

Several others made FOI requests as well, and some have a response:  
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.
Temperature
3 in 10 chance of a mild start
3 in 10 chance of an average start
4 in 10 chance of a cold start
Precipitation
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. 

How does the "4 in 10 chance of a cold start" square with the claim we heard earlier from the BBC's own Roger Harrabin?

The truth is it [The Met Office] did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October.

Well, of course it doesn't, because "4 in 10 chance of a cold start" is the same as a "6 in 10 chance of a mild or average start" i.e. what the Mystic Met Office told the Cabinet Office is not the same as what Roger Harrabin claimed. If Harrabin had seen the evidence then he has deliberately lied to the public. Or if he had not seen the evidence, then he's incompetent and not believable. Either way, he's an embarrassment to the credibility of the BBC.


Posted by Keith MacDonald    7:23:16 PM
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