You know the Met Office, the organisation that tells us not just what the weather is going to be like tomorrow but, through its off-shoot the Hadley Institute, what it'll be like in twenty or forty years' time when we've all finished poisoning the Earth with our 4x4s and light-bulbs and cow-farts?
They're feeling a bit embarrassed at the moment, we think. If not, they bloody well ought to be.
Back on 25th September 2008 they announced"The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year."
However, on 24th October their headline was "End of British Summer Time ushers in the cold" - in other words, "we were wrong but it's your own fault for messing about with the clocks". Three days later it was "As we head toward the end of the month arctic winds will bring much colder conditions across the country with the risk of overnight frosts and sleet and snow showers".
By 25th November they had evidently decided that they'd been a bit hasty so some damage limitation was in order: "although the coming winter will have temperatures near or above average, it is very likely that December will be colder than normal".
It was. On 3rd December "Cold weather to bring more snow: the wintry theme to the UK weather is expected to continue this week, with northern regions likely to see a spell of heavy snow and strong winds during Thursday morning. Drifting snow could lead to difficult driving conditions".
On 12th December they were forced to eat even more of their words: "Temperatures from the Met Office have revealed that the UK has had the coldest start to winter in over 30 years. The UK average temperature for the first third of December has been only 1.7 °C compared to the long-term average of 4.7 °C. The cold temperatures are in stark contrast to the recent run of very mild winters that have been dominant across the UK. The last time the UK average temperatures gave such a cold start to December was in 1976 when the average temperature was a chilly 0.8 °C."
Still, there was a silver lining: "The Met Office seasonal forecast predicted the cold start to the winter season" (did it? You could have fooled me. They reported it, but that's not the same as "predicting" - GOS) "with milder conditions expected during January and February".
But by 19th December they were back in jolly holly positive mode with the headline "Christmas is coming". Good job they told us, we hadn't noticed.
Three days later it was "Britain experiences its coldest start to December for more than 20 years", and they plainly thought they'd better hedge their bets a bit: "December's cold weather is forecast to continue through the New Year period".
Wonder of wonders, this prediction turned out to be accurate, so as they were on a winning streak they thought they'd better follow through: on 2nd January it was "the cold weather is expected to persist over the weekend and into next week with widespread frost and temperatures plummeting to -9 °C in some parts of the country".
As we all know because we have all perfected the art of looking out of the window, January has remained cold and didn't turn mild as they predicted. But never fear. They released another press statement saying "The British Isles has experienced" (shouldn't that have been "have experienced"? - GOS) "almost a fortnight of freezing conditions. Temperatures as low as -9 °C have been fairly common throughout southern areas of the UK, with temperatures struggling to rise above freezing in some places. The lengthy spell of cold weather has been caused by an area of high pressure which has stayed close to the UK over the past few weeks, bringing cold air across the UK from Europe …
… The continuous cold conditions caused lakes and rivers to freeze in areas such as the Lake District, Hertfordshire and Essex. Boats were frozen in their moorings on the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal in Pontypool. The sea froze along a part of the south coast at Poole, and Padstow Harbour was partially frozen. Even the fountain in Trafalgar Square was frozen.
Parts of southern England have experienced some of their lowest temperatures since 1991, with south-east and central England recording an average minimum temperature of -8.1 °C and south-west England and South Wales recording an average minimum temperature of -8.0 °C."
And they end by slapping themselves on the back: "The Met Office correctly forecast the spell of cold weather and kept the public informed via our various forecasts".
Well no, Mr.Met Office, you did nothing of the sort. Do you take us for total bloody idiots? Did you suppose that we would be so pre-occupied with the credit crunch and Baby P and Gazza and Gaza and Übersturmbahnführer Prince Harry that we wouldn't notice that not only can't you do your jobs, but you are lying through your teeth about it?
And let us reiterate, since you seem to have only the most rudimentary grasp of the English language: reporting that a thing has happened or is happening, is not the same as predicting it. To predict something, you have to see it coming before it arrives. I wonder how you get home at night? - "Sorry I'm late, dear, the train came but I wasn't ready for it …"
If you'd like to follow every duck and dive of the Met Office's attempts to justify their miserable existence, there's a complete set of press releases here - but don't whatever you do click the link to "Climate change news releases" - that way madness lies. Mind you, for the strong in mind and brave of heart there could well be some entertaining reading: recent press release headers have included "Human influence on climate change extends to every continent" (03/11/08), "global warming goes on" (23/09/08), "Climate scientists clear up discrepancy in global temperature record" (28/05/08) and "Is global warming all over?" (29/04/08).
Yeah, like they'd know.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2008 The GOS
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