Thursday, January 14, 2010

Garbage for brains

"The Met Office has admitted that it failed to warn the public of the heavy snow that brought swaths of Britain to a standstill on Wednesday," writes Matthew Moore and Nick Collins for The Daily Telegraph.

Forecasters conceded that they did not spot the widespread snow storms that caused transport disruption and a surge of weather-related accidents until it was too late. They were "taken by surprise" by how much of the country was affected on Tuesday night.

Even when the full extent of the threat was realised, flaws in the Met Office's bad weather warning system meant that the public were not adequately informed. Severe weather warnings were not issued for London & South East, the West Midlands and the North West until the early hours of Wednesday morning, leaving train operators with little time to ensure lines were cleared.

Barry Grommet, a Met Office forecaster, said: "We put our hands up and concede that we did not expect the snow to spread so far east, and with the intensity that it did."

The office had issued snow advisories – which are one step down from warnings – for Surrey and Berkshire around 11am on Tuesday but did not release a higher alert because the amount of snow forecast fell just below the required threshold.

"We are in a situation where some of the advisories did not get picked up and were not presented strongly enough," Mr Grommet said. "In these circumstances we need to sit around a table and look at the thresholds to see if they should be made more flexible." Thus, the system will now be "reviewed," we are told.

So, the short-term forecasts – when it really matters – are garbage, and the warning system is inadequate. Then, as we already know to our cost, the seasonal forecasts, with their "barbecue summers" and "mild winters" are fantasy.

But don't worry, boys and girls. Their long-range forecasts, for 2030 and beyond are spot on. These geniuses know exactly what the weather is going to be like in 2050, 2060, etc. Their computer models have told them so.

When thinking of suggestions as to what they can do with their computers and computer models, unspeakable things come to mind.