Utterly totally useless information from the Met Office - See which version of the weather forecast you would believe

Here is a copy of the screenshot from the BBC Weather website (information provided by the Met Office) giving the weather forecast for the next five days.

The first weather forecast is for Norwich (Norfolk) and features heavy snow on Friday and Saturday.

The second weather forecast is for Norwich International Airport which is actually just three miles from Norwich City centre and is actually within the boundaries of Norwich. According to them Norwich International is getting completely different weather from Norwich (which is the same place) on Friday and Saturday ?

Is it me or is this just totally confusing and further emphasises that the Met Office provide an unbelievably poor service ?

It is difficult enough making decisions about travelling without the Met Office providing two totally contradictory weather forecasts for the same place.


Antony said...

Nich - you blog what I think. I noticed this days ago, the BBC have been totally wrong about this weather from beginning to end!

dobson said...

This is not a new problem, you can see much the same thing happening in London where you might see tremendous variation between Heathrow, Gatwick and Barnett (three Met-office data collection poitns which surround London) despite them all being within 50 miles of each other.

I'm pretty sure the fault is to do with crappy interpolation done by the BBC, since you do not see the same errors or zany discontinuities if you consult the data provided by the met-office at their own web-site.

The source of the problem seems to be to do with the fact that BBC want to provide a consistent look to their weather (e.g. hourly forecasts for the next 24 hrs) and coverage for every postcode. Met office do not provide data to anywhere near this resolution (yet), so the BBC have tried to be clever by joining the metaphorical dots in the Met-Office's graphs.

The consequences are as you observe quite bizarre.

Moral of the story: Do not ever use the BBC weather pages, they are utter rubbish.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Their on air forecasts are as bad though. Two weeks ago they said on the Saturday "Its been a clear dry day for the South and East of England with no snow or rain to report.". It had at this point been snowing for two and a half hours !

Oliver Harrison said...

The problem here Nich is nothing to do with the forecasts that the Met Office actually produces. The forecast software is (and can only ever be) on the resolution of about 20 km at best - whereas as you know, the weather (particularly precipitation) is much more locally variable than that. This is extenuated by topography such as coastlines and hills. Small areas can have totally different weather to the rest of the region, and this info is difficult enough to collect from the present, let alone predict for the future.

This is mainly due to chaos theory - no simulation, no matter how powerful, can ever possibly hope to be close enough to the current situation to reduce the large effect that this uncertainty has on predictions days into the future.

This means that the best predictions a model could give can only be to about the level of the old weather maps (pre-BBC revolution a few years ago) - where the childlike sun and cloud symbols covered areas about the size of counties.

The BBC and other websites give predictions for individual stations, which can be very close to each other as you point out - but this is providing far too much accuracy than one actually has - like measuring your height in micrometres. It is not surprising that errors like that one above crop up when this happens.

TBH - the best guide to the local weather is to look at synoptic pressure charts, noting microclimatic trends in your area (for example, whether you're in the lee of hills or on the sunnier coasts), and taking the regional (not station) forecasts. Tweak them, and take that with a pinch of salt. That's the best we (and any meteorological organisation) can do.

Happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nich

hope you're enjoying a snow day today, just like my school!

Met Office hopeless. I've resorted to looking out of the window, and phoning friends further away for a long range forecast