Thursday, 3 June 2010

The problem with weather forecasters

I see that the Head of Cornwall's tourism arm, Malcolm Bell, is complaining that bookings are down because the Met Office predicted less than perfect weather for our area over the half term week.

I can sympathise with the basic point that Malcolm makes - that forecasts affect bookings and longer range forecasts can be very inaccurate. Malcolm concludes by suggesting that the Met Office not make longer range forecasts for this very reason.

But I do not believe that the Met Office is biased one way or the other and I genuinely believe that they do their best. They have recognised that seasonal forecasts can be very wrong and have pledged no repeat of the 'barbeque summer' fiasco.

But looking at the forecast for half term week, just how inaccurate was it?

The Met Office said that this week would be 'unsettled'. From where I sit, that's exactly what it has been. Saturday saw huge amounts of rain and Monday was pretty grim, especially early on. Sunday was a bit mixed and it has become bright and sunny (although not exactly overpoweringly hot) as the week has gone on. Surely that pattern counts as unsettled!

Some tourist chiefs (although not Malcolm Bell) seem to be asking for the Met Office to err on the side of predicting good weather.

Let's lay off the Met Office and instead concentrate on making sure that Cornwall has a wider range of attractions so that when the day is not so great there is still lots for our visitors to do across Cornwall.

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