Met Office come out slugging!

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Articles suggesting that the Met Office were a bit slow of the mark in forecasting the recent cold spell have provoked a robust response from them today (fig 1). Their news release lists a timetable of what they did and when they did it in the lead up to the commencement of the severe weather.

The Met Office are currently ‘managerless’, using football parlance after Rob Varley, the Chief Executive was asked to stand down by the Government. Nick Jobling the Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer, has drawn the short straw to head the organisation as the stand-in-manager (fig 2).

Figure 2 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Here’s the full story courtesy of today’s Daily Telegraph (fig 3), perhaps this has something to do with the tender that the Met Office submitted for the BBC contract and which they lost to MeteoGroup. This maybe another reason why the Met Office have been provoked into issuing today’s riposte to MeteoGroup’s claims that they forecast the severe weather event six weeks in advance.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of Daily Telegraph

Author: xmetman

An ex-metman passionate about all things to do with weather, climate and clouds

3 thoughts on “Met Office come out slugging!”

  1. Here’s a copy of my reply to the Met Office news team’s blog about the recent cold snap. I will be interested to see if they publish it, in the past they’ve left it pending “awaiting moderation” for weeks on end.

    “The Met Office must be deluding themselves if they think the phrase “below-average temperatures are more likely than above-average temperatures” and “The likelihood of impacts from cold weather during February is greater than normal” are what constitute an early warning of severe weather.

    In my opinion the three month outlook shouldn’t be made public, it’s imprecise even for contingency planner’s, who are apparently it’s intended audience. You may have forgotten but the three month outlook for the meteorological winter that you issued on the 24 November was anticipating a cold December, followed by a mild January and February, possibly because of an early rather than a later occurrence of an SSW event. What this underlines to me is just how poor seasonal forecasting is at the moment.

    Perhaps instead of using that for evidence you should have used the extended outlook issued on your website on the 13 February, and which I referred to in this blog ( That forecast at least did give some detail, and although short on specifics at that range, ended up not far off the mark.

    I don’t think the Met Office fully realise just how the Internet and social media has changed meteorology in the last few years. Apart from output from many national weather services across the world, there are also many armchair weather forecasters out there now, with masses of climatological, observational and forecast data at their fingertips. Some of them might not have the knowledge to make use of that data, but some do, and were watching out for this SSW event, just as intently as Adam Scaife and his team were, and just as the folks at MeteoGroup were too. The Met Office have never been under as much public scrutiny as they are now, they are not top dog any more, and this article underlines the fact that you don’t seem to like it.”

  2. I think the previous comment sums up everything that’s wrong with the Met Office. Operational NWP began in 1965 and the first forecast was bang on. The forecasting staff have never gotten over that! Nowadays there’s no place for a human in forecasting, and all of the Met Office’s competitors have moved past that to ‘decision support’. You’ll never hear that phrase in the Met Office (though to be fair it’s different with the forecasters working with the RAF, who do an excellent job of enabling safe and effective operations).

    With luck a good external CEO will be brought in to reverse the four years of malaise under Varley, and we might begin to see the vast gap between weather science and forecast output begin to close.

  3. I was saddened yesterday to hear of the departure of Rob Varley from the post of Chief Executive of the Met Office. When he was appointed 3 years or so ago it brought a broad smile to my face. The only previous encumbant to do so was an Admiral named Fitzroy.

    I don’t think it is our place to assign reasons for Rob’s departure, or even speculate. He was an excellent Met Man. He was a student on one my Advanced Forecasting Courses 30 years ago and I worked with him for a short while in the late 90’s interviewing applicants for forecasting posts in the Office. When he took over as the Chief Instructor (a quaint military style title) in charge of Forecasting Courses in the Met Office he had a hard act to follow ( the late Peter Wickham), and he did so with distinction. I wish him well and the very best of futures.

    Well Bruce – what our old employer did and did not say has been adequately covered elsewhere and you have dipped your toe in those freezing waters yourself a few topics back.

    My only comment is to say that I always found modellers (and we are talking models here) to be over impressed with what they produced. Mind you some forecasters were prone to offering up several vague shapes of what was to come during a 12 hour shift and then claiming they were right – ” see I told you it would be like this!!! ” I personally claim the 5th Amendment on the subject. It was harder to maintain this behaviour if your customer was a military pilot or an oil platform operator. BS was usually spotted from a large distance.

    Keep up the good work.

    Dave Richardson

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