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The Met Office - not fit for purpose?

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The Met Office - not fit for purpose?

Old 24th Aug 2009, 13:03
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Gpn1

I have the pleasure, if you like, of being able to see the Met Office from my office desk. Its a largish modern building with a somewhat sloping flat roof. On several occassion you can see at least two men on the roof picking up and holding what may be sea weed...........

On the other hand, dont they say that 'a weather foreacast is just a horoscope with numbers and inaccurate numbers at that!'
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 13:06
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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In days of old, the forecaster for Luton was based at Stansted and knew the local weather variations, especially the problem of fog as a result of building an airport on top of a hill!

I have lost track of the number of times recently when we go out in fog and it isn't forecast.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 13:27
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Off-topic

Off-topic but the reference to phoning the duty forecaster reminded me of a colleague who called the Leuchars met section for 'actuals' at about 4 o'clock most days and got a detailed report.
This went on until the officer (who was obviously impressed by his dedication to flying) asked what type of aircraft he had.
When colleague (golf fanatic) admitted he only wanted to knew whether it was worth going up to St Andrews for a round we could hear the officer across the room!
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 13:32
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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Sorry...

I thought this was Rumours and News thread.

Unfortunately this is neither - it's fact and old hat.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 15:37
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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the reference to phoning the duty forecaster reminded me of a colleague who called the Leuchars met section
Of course that forecaster is still there, as they are at all operational RAF stations, and the result is that TAFs for those stations are far more reliable, in my experience, than those for civil airports.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 15:41
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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100% accurate forecast for anywhere in the UK at any time, any season:

"partly cloudy with a chance of rain."

sums it up I think!

All spelling mistakes are iPhone induced.

TTR
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 15:46
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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I read somewhere that if the forecasters predict that the weather tomorrow will be the same as today they have already achieved 70% accuracy.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 15:48
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Ah yes the days when we had forecasters and received a briefing when we went into met!

At Manchester circa 1981 going Ibiza at night. Forecaster briefed us on the weather. I asked him why Palma was forecasting fog but Ibiza was not. Without any hesitation he said "Katabatic drainage off the high ground on the north side of Palma!" - those guys knew their stuff!
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 16:22
  #29 (permalink)  
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"Katabatic drainage off the high ground on the north side of Palma!"
Brilliant - how do you program the Cray for that ?
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 16:32
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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The Met Office boss is a ppl, so he may well read this.
Keep the feedback coming.

The weather forecast for this Summer was the usual Iraqi one - partly Sunni, but mainly Shi'ite
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 16:50
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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At work I have limited access to the fine mesh model output of the UK MET office. For a few years it's been my favourite model in the +36 h time range with regard to position of frontal or convective cloud bands out of a variety of other models from the French, American and German services. I'm also impressed by its handling of small scale surface winds and near-surface moisture in a complex terrain here in Germany. So I felt like saying something nice about the UK MET office, and its big computer.

I would have appreciated some clarification where exactly the criticism of the maker of this thread is aiming at.
I deducted from both TAFs the basic notion, that there would be a longer rainy period ahead, sometimes with moderately reduced visibility and some low clouds, which would end about midnight utc.
From the first TAF I got the idea that some convective enhancement of the rain was expected starting at 20 utc the 23rd. There were some syntax errors included in the first TAF, provided it was quoted correctly.

I checked radar pictures on meteox.com and the relevant EGPF METARs. Shortly before the first TAF was compiled, CB clusters with strong showers were present upstream over Ireland and reached Scotland in weakened form over the day with mostly light rain and the ceiling not below 1000 ft agl, at least not for long.

A convective looking rain band reached Glasgow by 20 utc the 23rd, precisely as the first TAF had predicted 15 hours ahead. This brought the strongest rain of the day and the first TAF had timed that one very nicely.

The strong winds however didn't show up in the regular METARs. I would say that moderate rain, wind and low ceiling were somehow overpredicted by the first TAF, but that goes for most TAFs I've seen in my life.
However one would have to see the special reports of Glasgow or some real time data to judge wether some significant weather went by unrecorded in between the regular reports, e.g. if there wasn't a brief gustfront passing the airfield by about 20 utc.

So I totally fail to see yet why just this particular TAF would provoke such criticism and a new thread on PPRuNe.

--

As a sidenote, a brief period of morning fog around 5 utc the 24th seemed to have affected only parts of the aerodrome and wasn't anticipated by both TAFs.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 16:54
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My first job on leaving school, aged just sixteen, was as a met assistant at London Airport. Very interesting and a great start to an aviation career. Job entailed reporting actual wx, plotting charts, tephigrams, etc. Was taught a great deal of met by the Panam flight despatcher who studied the charts and created the forecast for their transAtlantic departures (by special arrangement with Mr Oddie, the senior Met Officer.) I have always wondered if it was legal to use under eighteens for the night shift but too late now to sue the Met Office. Occasionally sat in the runway caravan in foggy conditions counting the number of runway lights I could see. Never understood why the runway controller couldn't do it, but even in 1947 "it ain't my job".

In 1988 or so having driven in thick fog from near Bicester to Luton to operate to BRU and back I phoned the duty forecaster at Bracknell to enquire on the likelyhood of diverting on my return four hours later. He admitted he had no knowledge of the fog I had passsed through.

In 1991 operating from BRU to OPO at night, knowing that the Portugese signals set up were on strike I phoned the "expert" to ask for a landing forecast. He told me that there was no information available. I said "you are a forecaster - look at the chart and tell me what you believe weather will be like. His reply was "did you go there last night? If so, probably the same". I had and it was but he was paid to tell me.

It has all gone down hill since I left the Met Office in Nov 1949 to join the RAF. ( I should point out that when I joined at LAP half the Met staff were serving RAF guys and girls.)

Nothing much seems to have improved since the time of ocean weather ships. Forecasters have no practical experience.

p.s. John Elias, are you still out there?
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 17:14
  #33 (permalink)  
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The forecast for Hampshire this am was 'white cloud'. I'm looking forward to seeing: pink, red, purple and yellow
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 17:26
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@ JW: A katabatic wind is a gravity driven mountain wind. I daresay every serious fine mesh weather model will take that into account, being run on a Cray or a home PC.

I'd be seriously curious, though, how a fall wind will cause formation of fog.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 17:41
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Interesting to hear several pilots bemoaning the removal of Met Office observers and forecasters from airfields and the loss of face-to-face briefing. The trend began with Liverpool and Blackpool in the 1980s and although many aircrew complained vociferously to other Met staff that it was a move in the wrong direction, very very few of them took the trouble to write their views to the CAA - so the trend continued........... We now have a team of aviation forecasters in Exeter who know their met and have much better model guidance but haven't spent years working in an airfield environment talking over operational issues face-to-face with the guys flying the routes and gaining an understanding of their real requirements.

Last edited by Triskel; 24th Aug 2009 at 17:53.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 17:43
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Who was the wise old meteorologist who summed it up like this?

"Meteorology is not an exact science - and may be considerably affected by the weather".

Last edited by Scimitar; 24th Aug 2009 at 17:44. Reason: Spelling
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 18:06
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When planning how to occupy the new offices in the then to-be-built brand new Passenger Terminal in LUX a couple years ago, the best was this:
The Met office was planned smack in the middle; no way to look or go outside easily. Some time passed until the people who were supposed to work in said office got air (or was it gas ) of it. They only had one question:
"How can we make observations from an office isolated from the outside?"
As you guessed; some re-planning has been done!
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 18:53
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I am not a fan of the 30 hour taf.Nothing civil stays airborne that long so why do we need a forecast of this duration which is frequently amended during its period of validity?
My principal flying is from Crawley to the eastern Med and the Red Sea coast of Egypt.The taf can have changed a number of times by the time I am starting on the return sector and be markedly different from the Met Office's first guess of the day.In these days of trying to save our company's money the forecast can have a marked difference on the fuel uplifted down route and the penalty of flying these reserves back to the UK for 6 hours.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 19:39
  #39 (permalink)  
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Sigmet Nil - make no mistake this is day and daily in every respect - I just chose this occasion to voice my frustration - don't pick holes in my one example to shoot down the arguement. Did you deduct anything about the differences in the forecast about the wind........?

The health and safety approach to weather forecasting has now gone beyond a joke and is now causing real safety issues to those who use forecasts - the sailing fraternity in Scotland has given up on anything originating from the Met Office - once again, make no mistake they are utterly useless. The growth of commercial pay for weather sites proves the point .......... and please don't give us the local conditions excuse.

"Actfasts" - the way of the future....... it's why the BBC TV met people spend 85% of the forecast telling you what we have already had today.

I ask the question - if we didn't have the Met Office would it be such a lose ?

Last edited by Just wondering; 24th Aug 2009 at 19:55.
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Old 24th Aug 2009, 20:56
  #40 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by gpn01
Problem is that the Met Office is trying to forecast a future event which, in the UK, isn't completely forecastable. We're a small island, off the coast of a large land mass, with a huge ocean with warm most air to the West and a source of very cold dry air to the North. Add to this the variability of the jetsream moving around and it all becomes very complex very quickly. If you want an accurate forecats, move to Nevada.
Or use MetCheck Yes, I know you can't use it professionally. Those of us needing accurate local forecasts for recreational purposes though, including planning flying with aircraft whose usable range of weather is very small, highly wind-direction dependent and needing little or no precipitation, generally find it remarkably accurate, up to several days in advance (once one factors in one's own understanding of the general synopsis and wider weather environment).

Long and short - The Met Office should be capable of being better than their current performance.
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