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I have never -- well, hardly ever -- knocked the Met Office for their day-to-day forecasts, just as I now refuse to knock Meteo France for theirs. Most of las night we had high winds and rain and it is still raining now though the forecast was for it to clear by mid-morning. (Having had another look at the website I realise they have now changed that to sunshine and showers for the rest of the day.)
Presumably this is all done in the light of the fact that forecasting is not an exact science and the forecasters really do do their damnedest to get it right. Certain weather patterns are reasonably predictable but surely no-one in his right mind expects temperate zone weather to obey the clock to the extent that it does in parts of the tropics (or so I am led to believe). What I would like is for forecasters to treat me like an adult and give me a proper scientific assessment of what is going to happen in the next 24 hours. "Spits and spots of rain", "lumps of cloud" and "chilly old nights" I can do without. I realise that is not Richard Betts' fault but it does little for the credibility of the forecasts, and by extension for the Met Office itself (IMHO) when the BBC treats the weather forecast as just another piece of light entertainment.
Perhaps more relevant is the question of whether we should thinking of treating the Met Office as has been suggested for the High Street banks and split the "retail" arm (ie day to day or week to week forecast) from the "investment" part, which is to say the bit that engages in highly speculative guesses about the future.
Given what we already do know about the behaviour of climate in the past I can't help thinking that using computers to tell us what is going to happen in 50 years is just a slightly more sophisticated version of examining the entrails of chickens.

Jul 17, 2011 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

When it comes to the particularities of weather, especially as applied to Village Fetes, you do have to cut the forecasters some slack. Our local weather can be very different within no more than a couple of miles due to the terrain, all affected by wind direction, the amount of sun that's allowed through by varying cloud etc. etc. The rush to the beer tent as the beautiful summer's day turns into a replay of Noah's flood is practically a definitive experience of being British!

Jul 17, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Hi James

I think the forecasters have had a challenging time this week, the situation does seem to have been changing a lot. I realise it probably seems a bit lame, but sometimes conditions are relatively easy to forecast and sometime not - and in the latter case the forecasts can change every few hours!

So not exactly "dithering", just changing the advice in the light of the latest evidence.

If it's any consolation, I was working on the bar at our village fete today, and had to make an emergency dash to the supermarket to buy more beer & cider as we'd under-ordered from the brewery on the expectation of a low turnout due to iffy weather. However, after a damp start it was a lovely sunny afternoon and people came in droves! (And then it rained again in the evening - but luckily we thought as much and got the marquees down while they were dry!)

However on other occasions I've been able to save village events from disaster by getting outdoor things moved indoors in sufficient time.

Some you win, some you lose... :-)

Jul 16, 2011 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

The Met Office’s 5-day ‘forecast’ for my neck of the woods (Isle of Wight) has excelled itself this weekend. Last night, it claimed that tomorrow, Sunday, would be wet all day, which seemed in line with the general pattern and satellite data.

This morning, however, it had revised its opinion and it was to be merely cloudy, which is good news for local tourist event organisers. I’m not one, this time, but it is something that we are often mindful of, as it can make or break an outdoor show. Another look just now, out of curiousity, revealed that the rain is back in 12 hours time!

Is this dithering on the MO’s part, of did they accidentally post the wrong chart? I wish I’d taken screen shots now...

Jul 16, 2011 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I put “Climate Change for Children” into the Amazon. co uk search box for books - here is a cheerful selection of what I found in the 219 books they offered me. Some of them may be reasonable books, and some may be directed at older children, but I can't think this endless diet of depressing and alarmist titles does much for the mental health of the young.

Changing Climate (Planet SOS)
Changing Climate (Precious Earth)
Climate (Our Fragile Planet)
Climate Change Catastrophe (Can the Earth Survive?)
Climate Change (Earth in Danger)
Climate Change (Earth SOS)
Climate Change (Saving Our World)
Climate Change Apocalypse
Climate Change( Planet Under Pressure)
Climate Change: (Eco Alert)
Climate Change: Extreme Threats
Climate Change: Is the World In Danger?
Climate Change: World At Risk
Climate Crisis (Saving Our World)
Climate Crisis: The Science of Global Warming
Climate Crisis: (Planet in Crisis)
Doing Battle with Climate Change [Suzuki]
Droughts of the Future
Earth’s Changing Climate (Environment at Risk)
Earth’s Fever
Fever at the Poles
Fever in the Ocean
Fever on the Land
Floods of the Future
For Climate’s Sake: Who’s in Charge of the Future?
Global Warming: The Threat of Earth’s Changing Climate
Global Warming: A Threat to Our Future
Green Files: Climate in Crisis
On Thin Ice: Climate Change
Predicting Climate Change
Under the Weather: Stories about Climate Change
Weird Weather: Everything You Didn't Want to Know about Climate Change, But Probably Should Find Out [Monbiot et al]
Will Farts Destroy the Planet?: and other extremely important questions (and answers) about climate change from the Science Museum
Will Jellyfish Rule the World? A Book About Climate Change [Leo Hickman]

Jul 16, 2011 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

not new news but a snippet from the London Metro re the Neil Wallis.

Jul 16, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Harbottle & Lewis took possession of hundreds of internal emails from the News of the World in 2007 after being hired by News International.

The firm indicated in a short letter to News International that the emails did not show wider evidence of criminality. This document was relied upon by the publisher during parliamentary inquiries in 2009.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the emails did show evidence of potentially criminal behaviour and have now been passed to the police.

Now I wonder where UEA got the idea of an independent repository for embarrassing emails from?

Jul 16, 2011 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Forests absorb one-third of global fossil fuel emissions

Jul 15, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJC

Heh, heh, true science in action:

Evolution is telling me that 8 pints and a lamb kebab on a Friday night means that I will survive the extreme cold this winter!!!!

Nuff said, bring it on.

Jul 15, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

[ Poland's ] heavy dependence on coal for electricity production is highlighted by a plan to build 13 new coal-fired power plants, for which the country obtained free “carbon permits” from the European Commission the day before it assumed the Presidency. ClientEarth, an environmental NGO, is reportedly attempting to bring the matter to court, arguing that such free allocations under the EU-ETS are not legal.”

Jul 14, 2011 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

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