Met Office or bookie's office?
Mar 29, 2013
Bishop Hill in Climate: MetOffice, Climate: Ward

Roger Harrabin takes a wry look at the Met Office's three-month forecast for last spring. These longer-term forecasts are not published, so Harrabin got it under FOI. The results are most amusing:

The Met Office three-monthly outlook at the end of March stated: "The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for April-May-June, and slightly favours April being the driest of the three months."

A soul-searching Met Office analysis later confessed: "Given that April was the wettest since detailed records began in 1910 and the April-May-June quarter was also the wettest, this advice was not helpful."

The whole piece is worth a look, but I was struck by this bit:

The Met Office explained it this way: "The probabilistic forecast can be considered as somewhat like a form guide for a horse race.

"It provides an insight into which outcomes are most likely, although in some cases there is a broad spread of outcomes, analogous to a race in which there is no strong favourite. Just as any of the horses in the race could win the race, any of the outcomes could occur, but some are more likely than others."

The analogy between weather forecasting and backing horses is amusing, particularly in the light of a Twitter conversation between the FT's Jim Pickard and Bob Ward last week:


HOTTEST MARCH EVER AS MINI-HEATWAVE HITS UK: Is this the worst weather forecast since Michael Fish?

. Yes, that's what happens when journalists confuse Ladbrokes with the Met Office.

Perhaps it's different when the Met Office confuses the Met Office with Ladbrokes.

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