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The Met Office - not fit for purpose?

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The Met Office - not fit for purpose?

Old 28th Aug 2009, 06:20
  #81 (permalink)  
 
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My point being, with whatever meteorological sources you have, it's much better to evaluate and - if you like - discuss the risks and chances from a healthy mix of raw data and interpreted forecasts and then establish a strategy to cover those risks, rather than insisting on a precise and perfect weather forecast , which for obvious reasons is impossible.
Probably the most sensible statement on this thread so far.

Thanks for your info SIGMET. You are swimming against the tide on this thread; your informed posts are helpful to us all I'm sure.

Any other Metmen, especially aviation Metmen, out there care to offer your thoughts?

Smithy

Last edited by Captain Smithy; 28th Aug 2009 at 06:20. Reason: Spelling error corrected
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Old 28th Aug 2009, 08:48
  #82 (permalink)  
 
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The "Barbeque Summer" statement was, as usual, twisted by the British Media, who took it to mean that all Summer was going to be roasting hot and blazing sunshine for months on end. In reality the actual comment used by the Met was something along the lines of "65% odds on for a barbeque Summer"
The strap line on the relevant Met Office press release actually said:

'The coming summer is 'odds on for a barbecue summer'
The trumpeting of a barbecue summer was not a product of the British media but rather that of the Met Office's press office and, daresay, some of the over-inflated egos that populate this particular organisation.

If they had been less keen to grab the headlines themselves and instead behaved in a manner more appropriate to a scientific organisation, perhaps the media backlash would have been less severe.
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Old 28th Aug 2009, 09:15
  #83 (permalink)  
 
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And that's all it was, a strap line.

All the lazy media did was latch onto the eye-catching title. Not reporting on the whole forecast, but just the line. Yes, the Met press office could be accused of sexing it up, there again that is their job after all. Its how it gets into the public domain in today's world. But all the barbie Summer was was an eye-catching title to draw people to the forecast, which most probably ignored anyway...

...How many of those moaning so much about the "Barbeque Summer" being "wrong" actually read the Summer forecast and understood the limitations behind it?

The press release is hardly the fault of the forecasters, nor is it their fault when people don't read the forecast properly then moan about it being "wrong"... must be a British thing, moan about the weather then blame it on the forecaster because the Wx is cack... obviously too many bloody Daily Mail readers

Smithy
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Old 28th Aug 2009, 09:25
  #84 (permalink)  
 
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How many of those moaning so much about the "Barbeque Summer" being "wrong" actually read the Summer forecast and understood the limitations behind it?
I don't recall the Met Office representatives being over-eager to discuss the limitations of the forecast when they were lapping up the media attention at the time of the press release.

Not sure how many Daily Mail readers there are in the Met Office itself but I'm sure they've a few folk who'd jump at the opportunity to appear on I'm A Celebrity.
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Old 28th Aug 2009, 17:20
  #85 (permalink)  
 
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heartwarming

Whilst it is cheering to see professionals closing ranks against the layman, my earlier comments on my perception that the weather forecasts available to the public contain less factual information than previously (preventing an independent assessment of what might happen if the forecast assumptions are amiss), and are also less accurate (over a three day period) stand. I believe the 'old' method used to rely on senior metereologists poring over charts trying to match with historical data and the using judgement. Based on my own experience with very sophisticated physics codes and the intricacies of meshing and interpretation (followed invariably by re-runs), if reliance is now placed on cfd codes no further explanation of the reduced utility is necessary.
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Old 28th Aug 2009, 22:53
  #86 (permalink)  
 
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Strange nobody's posted any actual data. It seems completely pointless to argue on the basis of so-and-so's mum getting drenched - was it last year? - when the nice man said a 60 per cent chance of showers, which isn't *that* much. Bloody BBC, must be the politicians.
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 09:01
  #87 (permalink)  
 
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Here's a bit of data for my area (approximately Reading, Berks) for today, 29th August. I am particularly interested in the wind as I have a large radio tower in my garden.

Met Office forecast for Basingstoke (closest location) says wind 15mph gusting 28mph at 4pm
Met Check ditto says 7mph gusting (!) to 8mph for 4pm (No mention of 28mph)
BBC Weather site ditto says 14mph for 4pm (no mention of gusts)
Heathrow TAF suggests 10kts for next 24 hours

Just what does one believe?
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 09:15
  #88 (permalink)  
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I find it interesting that we have been studying Met for hundreds of years and still struggle to get it right for more than a few days ahead (BTW I think that the Met Office does a great job).

Yet the environmentalists have been studying global warming, sorry I mean climate change, for what, 20 or 30 years but in details only for about 10 and reckon that we should believe their long term forecasts.

If we can't get the Met right for more than 5 days hence, how the hell can we put any faith in the long term forecasts for climate change?
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 10:17
  #89 (permalink)  
 
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If we can't get the Met right for more than 5 days hence, how the hell can we put any faith in the long term forecasts for climate change?
Because climate is 'easy' compared to weather.

In the same way as if I drop a leaf, Anyone can tell you it will fall to the ground.

With a bit more work you can predict how long on average it will take to hit the ground, and how fast.

But it's still virtually impossible to say exactly how that particular leaf will twist and turn as it floats to the ground.
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 13:22
  #90 (permalink)  
 
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See my previous post...

2.20pm Met Office now going for gusts of 30mph. Other sites unchanged. Heathrow TAF still going in for 10kts.

A waste of space I feel...
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 13:54
  #91 (permalink)  
 
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How long will it be, before every post on this thread comes accompanied by one of those stupid and pointless BBC weather warnings that they seem to start every weather forecast with?
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 13:57
  #92 (permalink)  
 
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I refer the honourable Gentlemen to my earlier post ......
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 15:14
  #93 (permalink)  
 
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How long will it be, before every post on this thread comes accompanied by one of those stupid and pointless BBC weather warnings that they seem to start every weather forecast with?
What, like "Severe warning issued; high chance of heavy showers of total bullshit"

Discussion done I think, I'm outta here.

Smithy out.
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 14:39
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As a cynic I wouldn't be surprised if the barbecue summer forecast back in April was spin doctored by the New Labour government to encourage the credit-crunch affected Brits to holiday at home!

Prince of Darkness involved?
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Old 31st Aug 2009, 01:03
  #95 (permalink)  

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Wow, even I'm not that cynical!
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Old 31st Aug 2009, 10:23
  #96 (permalink)  
 
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Yup, the Prince of Darkness and Evil/Cardinal of spin could well have suggested that. Just the sort of thing Mandy does.
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Old 31st Aug 2009, 10:33
  #97 (permalink)  
 
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Heathrow Director - well, what was it? We're all waiting...
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Old 2nd Sep 2009, 11:08
  #98 (permalink)  
 
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When I were a lad they could'nt even get yesterday's forecast right!
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 11:10
  #99 (permalink)  
 
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if you listen to the Met Office, they can't do that now, either.

Remember, the forecast is always right, it was just the weather that was wrong.
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Old 4th Sep 2009, 09:20
  #100 (permalink)  
 
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A lot of good points, but also a lot of rubbish posted in here from people just looking to get a boot in somewhere. Well join the queue...

Forecasting is an inexact science.

I'm with Callsign Metman in the belief that the loss of local forecasting and observing sites has led to a massive change in quality and / or perception of quality. You no longer have access to local knowledge or a local interpretation of the weather. I also personally believe that the loss of countrywide full real manual 24 hour observations / ascents has led to the input to the model being of reduced quality - and that may lead to rubbish in rubbish out. However thats a personal belief.

Are forecasts better than they used to be? Personally, I feel that they've got worse of late and that I could do a better job. However what forecast am I talking about?

Am I talking about a local weather briefing from a forecaster?
Am I looking at the Met Office generated actual and forecast pressure charts?
Am I talking about an aviation forecast?
Am I talking about a TAF?
Am I talking about the BBC TV forecast?
Am I talking about the BBC TV Countryfile forecast?
Am I talking about the BBC Web Site forecast?
Am I talking about the ITV forecast?
Am I talking about the newspaper forecast?
or the forecast off the Met Office website?
or their new "Invent" site?
or is it a forecast from some other organisation that you're attributing to the Met Office?
or a soundbite forecast tacked on to the end of the news?
or in the Telegraph?
or the Sun?
etc
etc
etc

Each one is different, of different quality, has had more (or less) time assigned to its production / presentation, contains different data, for different audiences, and I guarantee in many cases they're being mixed and matched in peoples minds - I know because it happens to me! I get my weather from the BBC Weather website - its generally rubbish, and the text rarely matches the pictures, and the pictures rarely match the animations! I moan about it! Yet I keep using it because its easily accessible. If I were to look at the Met Office pressure charts however, I can decide for myself how to interpret them, and generally I come out with a fairly good idea of what the weather will do - and generally its accurate! Yet both come from the same Met Office source data?

Don't forget, the vast majority of UK forecasts - whether Met Office or from other commercial organisations - are produced from Met Office data! So if you say one forecast is good and another bad, then at the end of the day, they're probably coming from the same source! Its all down to purpose, presentation and interpretation! If you think the websites are rubbish, then learn how to read and interpret the charts directly! Its not difficult, they're freely available and they're far more accurate! Once upon a time, the pressure charts were all that was displayed, and the public understood them (and understood how the weather worked). Now the country has dumbed down, they can't think for themselves and need someone stunningly cute but dim to read from a script and distract them while they look at pretty animated symbols that take up half the map yet somehow represent what the weather will be in their tiny little world!

If a forecaster says its going to be showery, and a specific location doesn't get a shower, but 5 miles down the road they had massive downpours, thunder and gusty winds on and off for 5 hours, was the forecast right? The person in the location that had no precipitation says it was dry so it was wrong, the person in the location who had the showers say that it rained all day and blew a gale, and there was even thunder, so they think it was wrong. Yet the forecast was absolutely spot on!

A fair proportion of the complaints talked about here are down to ignorance of how the weather works on the part of the end user, and an over-simplication of the forecast product being used / presented on the part of the forecasting organisation.

but you all know this, and you're professionals.... Put it in an aviation context. TAF says its going to be showery and gusty, possible CB, possible TS. You prepare for the weather, but it doesn't come to pass - it shoots off 10 miles in the other direction. Was the forecast wrong? Imagine you hadn't prepared, you didn't have diversion fuel, etc etc. and the storm hit? Thats the nature of the beast...

One thing I do wish they'd do is admit when they're wrong, and not try to gloss over it. Media forecasts these days are so full of waffle and fluff, its as if they are produced by Neu Arbeit spin doctors.

As for the Barbecue summer forecast, well that was an absolute own goal. From what I understand, a significant number of people within the Met Office thought the tag line was a mistake and the forecast didn't justify it, but they were over-ruled to get as much press coverage as possible. The actual contents of the forecast in hindsight weren't too bad apparently - its just everything was overshadowed by the strapline. I think / hope lessons will be learned! I also understand that the "seasonal" model is being significantly upgraded soon, but seasonal forecasting is still in its infancy, and simply shouldn't be used for anything of any importance - which is exactly how the Met Office "sell" it!

Oh, and they don't have a 60 foot waterfall, casino style foyer or sun terrace... They didn't get big bonuses, they don't get paid a fortune (they're well below the normal civil service equivalent pay scales thanks to their trading fund status), and on the whole they're some of the most dedicated people I know.

People really will believe everything they're told in the media...
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