Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Monday 7 January 2013

Express Misses The Cold Snap

[Update at end of post]

After the prediction of “Coldest Winter In 100 Years On Way”, one might have thought that the dwindling band of hacks at the Express would be on to a change in the weather – especially one that has the potential to bring freezing temperatures, if only to eastern England – like a shot. But, despite forecasters dropping the heaviest of hints, there is silence from the Desmond press.

Remember this?

Maybe their “weather guru” Nathan Rao is taking a well-earned break? Certainly, today’s front page splash, “Super Pill Is Key To Living Longer”, is just another off the conveyor belt of ridiculously hyped up stories based on clinical trials whose findings do not support the headline afforded them, with the most promising observation being “It is too early to come to any firm conclusions”.

Met Office text forecast issued today

Meanwhile, it seems the Express forecasters have been taking their collective eyes off the ball: as far back as last Thursday, the BBC main weather bulletins were giving early warnings of a change from the current mild conditions. The Met Office forecast for days 6 to 30 (relative to today) has underscored the probability of colder weather. The Atlantic jet stream forecast shows why this is.

Graphics from Metcheck.com

Today’s jet stream forecast shows the winds in the upper atmosphere circulating in a more or less clockwise pattern around the periphery of the UK, bringing south-westerly winds and the dull but mild conditions we have seen for some days now. But forward the forecast to Saturday next, and those upper winds can be seen moving south and starting to drag colder air across the country.

And by Monday next week, a northerly airflow, perhaps with some easterlies dragging in really cold conditions to some areas, looks likely to become established. The upside is that there is likely to be less dull weather and more sunshine, but the downside is that it will be colder, and there is likely to be snow, especially further north and on hills. So where is the Express weather frightener machine?

Strangely, it is silent today, despite the Met Office talking of showers “becoming increasingly wintry into next weekend, with snow possible over high ground ... Into next week, most likely to remain cold with further wintry showers ... Thereafter ... most likely to remain colder than average”. That would normally be enough to have Nathan Rao promoted to front page splash duty.

Or perhaps this is more to do with the Express predilection with following the fringe forecasters who are likely to bring the more apocalyptic forecasts? Either way, the paper that usually gets in first with the “weather shock horror” headlines, even weeks in advance, has missed this one, but there is no need to worry: you just need to look in on Zelo Street and follow the links provided.

And what’s more, it’s free. That’s a real Benchmark Of Excellence, Des.

[UPDATE 8 December 1320 hours: as a commenter has noted, Nathan Rao was away from his desk until yesterday, and it seems the staff cuts at the Express mean there is nobody there to stand in for him.

But he made up for it this morning with a true slice of apocalyptic foreboding, telling "Arctic freeze blasts back ... and it will last for weeks". Rao's main source is Jonathan Powell, now of Vantage Weather Solutions, who was exposed as a sham last year by the Guardian's George Monbiot, as a result of which his previous vehicle Positive Weather Solutions was closed down.

This, though, does not deter Rao, who quotes Powell at length, but no other forecaster is prepared to go along with his Shock Horror prediction. Meanwhile, one commenter on Rao's article has pointed out "This article was trailed by the excellent Zelo Street blog yesterday".

I can confirm that the commenter (a) is not me, and (b) that the comment was not solicited. But I can tell anyone looking in that, having looked again at the weather runes this morning, the cold snap may not be as sudden or as bad as predicted by the Express, and that I'll return to this subject later.

Meanwhile, it would be interesting to know why Nathan Rao puts such store by the forecasts coming from someone as thoroughly discredited as Jonathan Powell. But I doubt that we'll find out]


Anonymous said...

It's OK, Nathan was on holiday it seems, nobody else at The Express is qualified to fabricate weather reports based on the flimsiest of evidence.

He's back in today and is promising to have grannies the length and breadth of the country literally shitting themselves with his apocalyptic weather reports by first thing tomorrow.

Tim Fenton said...

I hope he remembers to give me a shout out, but am not counting on it.