It's just a bit of fun. Away from the bookies and the one-man weather desks, there are limits on what Scaife can predict, especially in summer. If three-quarters land above, then the chance of a hot summer, say, is 75 per cent. But that means there is a 25 per cent chance that it won't be. To pick on one of these forecasts is as daft as banging on Ladbrokes' door if the favourite didn't come in.
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And yet they bang. In February the Express went so far as to celebrate its winter predictions.
It is true that the Met Office's three-month outlook, published late last November, proposed a potentially dry winter, but close reading reveals how measured that prediction was. The Met Office is partly to blame for its own, damned-if-it-does position. Two words explain why: "barbecue summer". At the end of April , its chief meteorologist at the time took the unusual step of calling a press conference to deliver good news after two gloomy summers.
He explained that there was an 80 per cent chance of average or above-average temperatures, but the press went wild when he started talking about barbecues. July was then one of the wettest on record and people got angry. But the biggest stick used to beat the Met Office?
Climate change, sceptics of which tend to talk loudly and angrily. The physicist, who has run WeatherAction in south London since , calls climate change "delusional nonsense" and says his understanding of "the essential influences between the Sun and Earth, involving magnetic connections" make him more skilled than the Met Office. He sells his long-range forecasts to similarly sceptical clients "mainly farmers" and won't talk about his summer forecast, only offering: "It's going to be very good in the first half of June, then it's dramatically downhill.
Scientists who believe in anthropogenic climate change, Corbyn adds, are "science deniers" who are complicit, with the UK government, in a conspiracy to justify higher taxes and rising energy prices orchestrated by Qatar and "big oil". Scaife, who has thick skin and a thicker file of letters from sceptics few of them nice is mild-mannered but can't hide his frustration.
The vast majority of qualified and respected scientists in this field agree that man-made forces are driving a warming globe. Scaife has spent years using the IBM supercomputers in the basement here to achieve a huge breakthrough in long-term, winter forecasting see below — but why does summer remain so fraught? Quantum mechanics is easy compared to meteorology.
Paul Davies is now the chief meteorologist at the Met Office. He gives me a tour of the operations room, where desks cover shipping, aviation, space and, in a new development, social media.
Tweets that mention the Met Office flash up on large screens. The real action happens at the centre, where Eddie Carroll compiles the two-to-five-day forecasts we all consume. He's pretty relaxed about the thundery showers moving north, warning of some heavy downpours during the week.
On my way home, Rao tweets the Express's interpretation, quoting Powell. I can't say I wasn't warned.
Well to Hell hoax - Wikipedia
When you look at history you see that something is pushing winters into being mild, wet and stormy, or cold with lots of snow. There are things which influence the odds. We've had theories about what they are, and over the past 10 years we built a computer model to include them. Subtle changes in the Atlantic Ocean influence the jet stream, which influences our weather. We also know the Pacific Ocean has a role. We then add other factors to [achieve] a bit more predictability, including atmospheric circulation in the Tropics, and changes in sea ice and the sun.
Next, we add these drivers to what the weather is doing in November, at the start of winter, and set off 24 forecasts for the following three months. Then we average them. To find out if we're right, we go back in time by 20 years and ask, if we had had this new model at the start of winter , and all subsequent winters, would it have given us accurate forecasts?
We run the programme and there is this magical moment when the numbers stream up. When it spits out 62 per cent [probability that three-month forecast is correct], it's fantastic. For the first time, we can warn about extreme winters weeks ahead. It's something meteorologists have dreamt of for years. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?
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