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Which long range forecast do you trust?

Paul Hudson | 07:01 UK time, Saturday, 25 September 2010

When I first began my career in weather forecasting nearly 20 years ago, you had to search long and hard to find forecasts that weren't produced by the Met Office. These days though, it seems every man and his dog are at it.

Whether you find your weather forecast in the newspaper, online, on TV or on radio, it can be confusing to find that these products are often produced by different weather forecasting outfits - sometimes telling a different story.

It can often leave the general public bewildered. Which one will be right? And then of course the very same people who compile the forecast often verify it themselves, with the obvious potential problems that can lead to!

So it's great news that my colleague Roger Harrabin has set up a steering group to find out who we can rely on in long range forecasting, with an independent verification scheme using some of the most trusted names in weather, in association with Leeds University.

It will be interesting to see how many weather companies take up this challenge, when there is clearly a danger of loss of face should certain forecasters prove less reliable than others. But I've been told that those companies who decide to decline the offer to participate will be published - leaving the public to draw their own conclusions should that occur.

The Met Office is often heavily scrutinised by the media, after all it's a household name in weather prediction. It was rightly criticised for the barbeque summer forecast of 2009; and the mild winter forecast of 2009/2010.

But how will other forecast companies perform in the face of similar scrutiny? The results should be fascinating.

Here's Roger Harrabin's article that you can see by clicking here from BBC Radio 4's 'Today' website.


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