Long range forecasts: The day of judgement nears.
In the last two days the press have been full of stories about how we are in for a scorching August.
Of course, we have been here before. The Met Office may for ever be associated with the phrase 'barbecue summer' following its disastrous forecast for Summer 2009, which amongst other things led them to stop publishing long range or 'seasonal' forecasts.
But the Met Office is often between a rock and a hard place. Greeted with shrugs when they get it right, and outright derision when they don't, they are under far more scrutiny than any other forecasting organisation.
Take for example Positive Weather Solutions (PWS). Last summer we were told that average temperatures would be hotter than those during the summer of 1976. And although summer started well, in the end, in large part because of a poor August, summer was statistically nothing more than average.
And then yesterday, PWS is widely reported in the tabloids saying that although this summer will be mixed, August will be a 'scorcher'.
Curiously, in all the newspapers I have read, it says that 'PWS forecasts have proved to be more accurate than the Met Office' without for some reason pointing out that last year PWS got it completely wrong.
But back to the line that PWS are 'more accurate' than the Met Office. Have we got independent statistics to back this claim up? Sadly not.
It is a curious part of the 'weather industry' that all forecasting organisations that I know of, including my former employer, The Met Office, verify their own forecasts and work out how accurate they are.
Far from me to say that this could be open to abuse - but it's clearly unsatisfactory that we have no independent way of verifying the claims of all these forecasting organisations.
And so perhaps a more accurate way would have been to say that 'in Positive Weather Solutions opinion, their forecasts have proved more accurate than the Met Office.'
But help is at hand to rectify the situation. After over a year in the planning, my colleague Roger Harrabin is about to begin the 'weather test' which you can read more about by clicking here
The process aims to independently evaluate the level of accuracy of all medium range forecasters (who chose to take part that is), and will be in association with, amongst others, our very own Leeds University.
It will be fascinating to see the outcome.
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