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Thursday 6 March 2014

Winter – Fact Versus Express Fiction

Now that we are a few days into March, and therefore beyond the end of Winter, perhaps now is a good time to compare the shock horror forecasts made in certain parts of the press with the reality. And when it comes to shock horror weather, nobody does it quite like Nathan Rao over at the Daily Express. So let’s start by seeing what he predicted.
Strike one - you're wrong ...

On November 13, readers were toldHEAVY SNOW WARNING: Shock long range UK weather forecast for winter 2013 ... BRITAIN faces months of freezing winds and heavy snow as long-range forecasters predict a ‘horror winter’ ahead ... Snow forecasts for winter 2013 suggest much of the country will be hit by heavy wintry downpours with no let up well into next year”.
... Strike two, you're wrong again ...

And, in case you missed that, four days later this had escalated to100 DAYS OF HEAVY SNOW: Britain now facing worst winter in SIXTY YEARS warn forecasters ... LONG-RANGE weather forecasters have warned that Britain should prepare for heavy and persistent snow for up to THREE MONTHS with winter 2013 set to be the worst in more than 60 years”. The worst since 1946-7, it was claimed.
... Strike three, YOU'RE OUT!

Then, as Christmas approached, came the news anyone needing to hit the road over the festive season dreaded: “HERE COMES THE SNOW: It really IS going to be a WHITE CHRISTMAS claim forecasters ... BRITAIN is on course for its first proper White Christmas in DECADES with forecasters now predicting widespread snow across the country on Christmas morning”.

As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. So what was the source for these dubious predictions? The Met Office? NASA? The NOAA? You jest. Most of the shock horror copy was generated from two sources: Exacta Weather, and Positive Weather Solutions. These are not mainstream sources. But they are prepared to tell Rao what he needs to put in the paper to frighten readers.

So now let us compare those predictions to what actually happened, and for this we can consult the Met Office, who have helpfully put together some figures. “The UK average mean temperature for the winter so far is 5.2 °C making it the 5th warmest winter since the national series records began in 1910. It is the warmest since 2007 which was 5.6 °C and the record was set in 1989, which averaged 5.8 °C”.

It gets worse for Rao: “the UK has had its wettest winter since the national series records began in 1910 ... It has also been the wettest winter in the long running England and Wales Precipitation(EWP) series going back to 1766, with 435 mm of rain being recorded up to 24th February. This beats the previous record of 423 mm set in 1915”. The Express expert didn’t forecast that.
But this rubbish sells papers, so that makes it another Benchmark Of Excellence!

1 comment:

Neil Barber said...

The vast majority of Express readers are 35+ according to the Express' own readership figures. I reckon that most of this group are 65+, a cohort whose conversations in the Post Office queue on pension day is the weather, health problems, immigrants and voting Ukip. Oh, and the weather.