Met Office Defends Its Seasonal Forecast: It’s ‘A Bit Like Factoring The Odds On A Horse Race’
Its predictions of a “barbecue summer” heralded one of the most miserable holiday seasons ever. Now the Exeter-based Met Office is scrambling to reclaim its reputation after it was revealed that the agency predicted a “drier than usual” winter – ahead of one of the wettest, stormiest periods in living memory.
As Prime Minister David Cameron was urged to lead a revolution in flood planning by a panel of experts, the weather forecasters were explaining how they got it so very wrong.
The three-month forecast, issued to help councils and other organisations, spells out what could be expected on the weather front from December.
The forecasters – using “cutting-edge science” – assured councils there would be a “significant reduction in precipitation compared to average” for most of the country, adding that there was only a 15 per cent chance the winter would fall into the “wettest category”.
The prediction was revealed shortly after the Met Office confirmed that the past 90 days have seen the heaviest rainfall in more than a century.
There has been 19.2in of rain since December, making it the wettest winter since records began in 1910.
A Met Office spokeswoman said the long-range forecast was not regionalised in any way and was “experimental.”
“They can be a guide for a whole three-month period, but they are not used to make day-to-day critical decisions during times of severe weather.” she said.
“The outlook assesses the level of risk connected to five different scenarios for both temperature and rain/snowfall for the UK as a whole; they do not mention specific areas such as the Somerset Levels. “It’s a bit like the science-equivalent of factoring the odds on a horse race.”