Met Office Forecasts: A Reality Check

  • Date: 10/02/14
  • The Global Warming Policy Foundation

The Met Office’s ‘pitiful’ forecasts were under fire last night after it was revealed it told councils in November to expect ‘drier than usual’ conditions this winter. Last night, it was confirmed the UK had instead suffered the wettest winter since records began. Daily Mail, 21 February 2014

2014: Met Office global forecasts too warm in 13 of last 14 yearsBBC Weather, 27 January 2014: So far this century, of 14 yearly headline predictions made by the Met Office Hadley Centre, 13 have been too warm. 

2013: Met Office winter forecast: For the December-January-February period as a whole there is a slight signal for below-average precipitation.

Reality Check: Met Office confirms England is suffering wettest period for 250 years

2013: Met Office Spring Forecast: Feb-March Above-Average UK Temps More Likely – Met Office, 20 December 2012: For February and March the range of possible outcomes is also very broad, although above-average UK-mean temperatures become more likely.

Reality Check: Met Office confirms coldest March in more than 50 years – Press Association, 29 March 2013: This March is the coldest in the UK since 1962, forecasters have confirmed. After weeks of speculation about whether this miserable March would top the list, the Met Office has announced it is the coldest in 51 years according to provisional statistic.

2012: Met Office Spring Forecast:  “The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier-than-average conditions for April-May-June as a whole, and also slightly favours April being the driest of the 3 months. With this forecast, the water resources situation in southern, eastern and central England is likely to deteriorate further during the April-May-June period… This forecast is based on information from observations, several numerical models and expert judgement.”

Reality Check: Wettest April for 100 years – April: 2012 had wettest April for 100 years, Met Office says “It has been the wettest April in the UK for over 100 years, with some areas seeing three times their usual average, figures from the Met Office show. Some 121.8mm of rain has fallen, beating the previous record of 120.3mm which was set in 2000.”

June: June on course to be wettest in a century: Flooding, storms and persistent showers have blighted the country in recent weeks putting this June in line to become one of the soggiest in 100 years.

25 June: Spring is wettest in Britain for 250 years - England and Wales are on course for the wettest late spring and early summer for 250 years, experts said yesterday. June has just seen its fourth washout weekend and yet more downpours are forecast. Now it is feared combined rainfall for April, May and June will break the record of 13.2in (336mm) set in 1782 and be the highest since records began in 1766.

2010: Met Office Winter Forecast: Winter To Be Mild Predicts Met Office – Daily Express, 28 October 2010: IT’S a prediction that means this may be time to dig out the snow chains and thermal underwear. The Met Office, using data generated by a £33million supercomputer, claims Britain can stop worrying about a big freeze this year because we could be in for a milder winter than in past years… The new figures, which show a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, were ridiculed last night by independent forecasters. The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.

Reality Check: December 2010 “Almost Certain” To Be Coldest Since Records Began – The Independent, 18 December 2010: December 2010 is “almost certain” to be the coldest since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office.

2009: Met Office Winter Forecast: Trend To Milder Winters To Continue, Snow And Frost Becoming Less Of A Feature – Met Office, 25 February 2009: Peter Stott, Climate Scientist at the Met Office, said: “Despite the cold winter this year, the trend to milder and wetter winters is expected to continue, with snow and frost becoming less of a feature in the future. “The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”

Reality Check: Winter Of 2009/10 Coldest Winter For Over 30 Years – Met Office, 1 March 2010: Provisional figures from the Met Office show that the UK winter has been the coldest since 1978/79. The mean UK temperature was 1.5 °C, the lowest since 1978/79 when it was 1.2 °C.

2008: Met Office Winter Forecast: Trend of Mild Winters Continues – Met Office, 25 September 2008: The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year.

Reality Check: Winter of 2008/09 Coldest Winter For A Decade – Met Office, March 2009: Mean temperatures over the UK were 1.1 °C below the 1971-2000 average during December, 0.5 °C below average during January and 0.2 °C above average during February. The UK mean temperature for the winter was 3.2 °C, which is 0.5 °C below average, making it the coldest winter since 1996/97 (also 3.2 °C).

 

Martin Rosenbaum: The Met Office and its seasonal problems

BBC Open Secrets, 23 December 2010

As Britain remains cold and snowy, an interesting little dispute has boiled up between the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and the Met Office over the quality of longer-range weather forecasting.

And this is illuminated by documents obtained by the BBC under freedom of information from the Met Office. These shed new light on the problems faced by the Met Office in its public communications and the strategies it has adopted for tackling them.

The Met Office is under attack from the GWPF, for its “poor advice” on the likelihood of a harsh and cold winter.

The GWPF is drawing attention to a map published on the Met Office website in October which indicated that the UK was likely to experience above-normal temperatures in the ensuing three-month period.

For the GPWF, which is sceptical of the Met Office and other mainstream analysis of global warming, this is evidence of a Met Office tendency to under-predict cold weather and over-predict mild winters…..